Where You’re Meant to Be at The Barrowlands, 17/5/15

It becomes apparent when entering the Barrowlands tonight that this gig will be unlike any other; tickets to the Aidan Moffat headlined Where You’re Meant to Be tour were snapped up instantly, there is however no greedy scrum for the front.

The crowd is made up of people of all ages, many of whom are strewn lazily on the sticky dance floor as if it was a hot day on the green.

It could have been the free dram of whisky or the laid-back ceilidh band greeting revelers, but the atmosphere of the prestigious music venue seems to have transformed into the boozy music tent at a country fare.

First up is an instrumental set of world music with a Celtic accent and Spanish guitar, which blends seamlessly with clarinet, Afro drums, and beautifully rich Scottish fiddle.

The theme of the night is Scottish traditional and contemporary culture; the vision of a Scotland portrayed by this ensemble is one I would like to live in.

The next three acts are unaccompanied traditional singers and it is remarkable how captivating they are; Fiona Shepard sings haunting folk songs in an all but forgotten dialect, her delicate and dynamic voice make her set both bewitching, familiar and alien.

It forces you to wonder what popular music would be like without instruments, hearing this young woman take on the packed ballroom with just her voice make hiding behind a guitar appear cowardly.

Geordie Murison and Joe Aitken for a moment break the spell and the two old balladeers initially hustle for sympathy before taking the venue by storm with their mix of humour and raunchy folk songs racier than anything played on Radio Scotland.

The emotional reaction received after a more sombre number leads to my favourite quote of the evening: ‘’Scotland has more love songs than it will ever need’.’

Again unaccompanied folk treasure Shelagh Stewart takes on the ballroom sitting down, singing songs written long ago, Stewart seems to epitomise sentiment many a granny has proclaimed ‘’your generation think you invented sex’’.

Her riotous performance of traditional songs about ladies of easy leisure and sing alongs made famous by The Pogues evoke the return of vaudeville or the Moulin Rouge.

When Aidan Moffat and his band start their performance the evening is well underway, in keeping with night Moffat sings new songs inspired by traditional music.

Changing the setting from bonny glens to bus shelters, and drawing from themes such as gay marriage, pub-crawls and the referendum it’s an upbeat celebration of Scotland.

After an encore it’s clear that the night’s been a success, it may be a cry for independence but it’s not aggressively polarising or jingoistic, it’s genuinely one of friendliest atmospheres and most enjoyable nights I have had at any gig, not bad for a free concert.

Words: Peter Johnstone


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