Live Review
Edinburgh Folk Club 2000

"Edinburgh Evening News", 27th Jan 2000

"Light from the man in black"

Scotland's own Man in Black, loquacious as ever, turns any performance into cultural enlightenment for the audience. Secure within his own beliefs, salient, heartfelt and reactionary points are made before the singing of the songs.

The songs, in his hands, are instructive and insightful. Deft fingers drill at the guitar strings while his voice burrs, gravels or lilts over the melody: Gaughan's voice can be hard as iron or sweet as honey, it all depends on the particular song.

Being the day after Burns' night, it was perhaps fitting that Now Westlin Winds was on the programme: it is a perennial favourite of Gaughan's and fitted well into an otherwise more contemporary repertoire, although the big ballads also made an appearance with the lust-and-betrayal tale of the Fair Flower of Northumberland.

However, the focus was on more thought-provoking matters. His own works, such as Why Old Men Cry or his reworking of Both Sides the Tweed, run deep and knocked the audience for six.

Gaughan does not languish in the past and he certainly does not view the future through a bland, rosy haze. In these days of diluted celto-folk, voices like Gaughan's rise high. An hour or two with him is an education in itself.


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