Celtic Connections 2023: Talisk & Project Smok

Back in Glasgow after three years! Celtic Connections 2020 happened just before covid shook the world – little did we know then that we would not return here until 2023…

Me and my wife launched our CC23 with quite a bang. This was our third Talisk show and by far the most epic. Musically I don’t think there was anything particularly new – at some points they did sound a bit more layered and even orchestral thsn usual – but the playing was as tight, Moshen as frantic and the crowd as wild as ever. Anyone who has seen Talisk live knows what I’m saying…

Benedict Morris on the fiddle has been a powerful addition to the band and he seems to enjoy it to the full, it’s a joy watching him play. Graeme Armstrong’s playing should be appreciated more, I think, as he not only lays down the guitar chords but functions also as a one man rhythm section keeping it all together. As a drummer myself, I greatly appreciate what he’s doing – not at all easy!

The big thing on this gig was the use of the entire lights arsenal the SWG3 has. It was a veritable storm of varilites, strobes and lasers so wild, the trio sometimes seemed to vanish behind the light storm. A bit of an overkill perhaps to mine ageing eyes at times, but it did fit amazingly well with the Talisk attack, creating a sense of a thrash metal band playing folk instruments 😄

Both Talisk photos by me

As the opening act, Project Smok was simply excellent and musically quite amazing. Great tunes, with Ali Levack an already award-winning, acknowledged virtuoso of flutes, whistles and pipes and Pablo Lafuente on guitar a recognized top muso as well.

But I must give special mention to Ewan Baird’s bodhran playing because he is really, really excellent, with perfect technique and such great musicality and level of detail and ornamentation, it’s awe-inspiring. Bodhran is an instrument whose challenges few people can appreciate; I have tried to learn it and it’s not what you might expect at all…

Project Smok photo by me

So we really enjoyed the Smok gig and hope and trust to see these guys headlining a gig at CC before long – CC24, we hope. They are just so good. Really.

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