Live Review
Celtic Connections 2008
Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"The Scotsman" Jan 2008

Gaughan laughs in the face of 60
Dick Gaughan's 60th Birthday ****

Dick Gaughan's bus pass may be hovering into sight (though not until May, he's at pains to point out) but, as his premature 60th birthday bash at Celtic Connections amply demonstrated, there is no diminishing of the singer's ability to grab complacency by the scruff of the neck and shake it vigorously.

The heat of Gaughan's compassionate outrage at the state of things smoulders as fiercely as ever, as in the indignant growl of Whatever Happened, from his current album, to seasoned and sadly still relevant protest anthems he's been singing for years, such as Pete Seeger's Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, while Shipwreck, about a marooned millionaire, was slyly dedicated to Donald Trump. The gentler muse was in evidence, too, with perennial favourites Song for Ireland and Burns's Westlin Winds, as well as his own, reflective Outlaws and Dreamers.

Birthday guests included a surprise and spirited rendition of Come Aa Ye Fisher Lassies, appropriately enough, from a five-strong women's detachment of the Fisher family, while the trio of fiddler John McCusker, flautist Michael McGoldrick and singer-guitarist John Doyle seemed as surprised as anyone to find themselves opening the evening which they did with panache.

More predictable appearances were from long-standing collaborators, fiddler-songwriter Brian McNeill and harp duo Patsy Seddon and Mary MacMaster. From McNeill there was his lowering Bonnie Yew Tree, while he and Gaughan duetted on his Muir and the Master Builder, while Seddon acknowledged Gaughan's part-Gaelic lineage with a haunting Gaelic song. The ensemble united in a remarkably coherent rendition of Gaughan's plea for independence with amity on Both Sides the Tweed, before dispatching the birthday boy with a rousing chorus of Geronimo's Cadillac.

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