Live Review
Celtic Connections 2007
City Hall, Glasgow

"The Herald" Jan 2007

"Classic Album : Handful of Earth"

Yer man claims that one of the reasons he's never attempted to play Handful of Earth in concert before is because just about every song demands a precise retuning of his guitar. But it's no penance - for us at least - because it allows Gaughan to speak of songs he recorded in 1981 and has rarely revisited since. He caringly outlines their provenance, while seasoning it with instances of personal and family history because - now as then - Handful of Earth resonates with his own political sensibilities, his abhorrence of bigotry, injustice and inequality.

There are no glib ditties or half-hearted performances here. He delivers Erin Go Bragh in a voice hewn from the depths of swaggering defiance, gives true edge to the angry reproach in Workers' Song, yet when it comes to the tenderness of Now Westlin Winds - which he declares his all-time favourite song - that big, dark bruiser of a battling voice has a gentle sincerity that is truly affecting. Only fiddle-player Brian McNeill, from the original recording, makes the line-up that backs some of the songs. Opening act, The Poozies, lend their support but somehow their input softens and subtracts from Gaughan's idiosyncratic, intense style. Even so, a night to cherish - it might be another 25 years before he does it again.


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