Celtic Connections 2023: John McCusker and friends; Beth Malcolm

Our Sunday’s CC menu consisted of two concerts decidedly less loud but just as enjoyable as the gigs on two previous days.

Celtic Connections’ New Voices series has always showcased brilliant upcoming artists and Beth Malcolm’s song cycle on theme of growing up and finding yourself was no exception. She is an immensely talented songwriter: she is no one’s clone and she brings clever humour to her stories too. The songs have nice variety and colour; in this song cycle there was sense of repetition at any point.

She was backed by a super band, too, and guitarist Dorian Cloudsley’s arrangements were simply super – him and Beth seem to be quite a creative force. All in all, an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable performance from an artist still in the early stages of a very promising career.

Beth & band, photo by me

The evening we spent enjoying the company of Mr John McCusker and his many iconic friends. Celebrating 30 years of successful career in folk and trad music would have most people standing proudly in the limelight all night but McCusker, whose career is defined by many collaborations, bands and projects, gave us an evening that celebrated exactly that.

In well over two hours we heard trad tunes, modern folk songs and even a pop classic from Eddi Reader… With her and Julie and Karine and Mike and Simon on stage, you really couldn’t lose. Very warm, very entertaining and, of course, brilliant playing throughout. “Well that truly was worth it”, as my wife noted as we exited City Halls. Amen to that.

Quite the frontline! Photo by me

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