Celtic Connections 2023: Malin Lewis

Sunday 29th of Celtic Connections saw something extraordinary happen. The piper-composer-innovator Malin Lewis (see also Malin Makes Music on the internet and social media) was included in this year’s New Voices series and it’s no overstatement to say that they blew the roof off the Strathclyde Suite.

Malin’s work for this event was a dizzying and marvelously performed offering of what we might cautiously call progressive trad or folk: tightly rooted in tradition while pushing and challenging its boundaries with deep understanding and intent. Visionary, confident, infricate but – most importantly – never self-conscious or artsy but open and inviting. It’s something many artists attempt but only a blessed few succeed.

The quality of both the compositions and the performance were pretty breathtaking and the sold out hall was taken with the music and Malin’s winning, proudly non-binary personality from the word go. Malin’s project band was brilliant and included, to our delight, Finland’s own kantele genius, Maija Kauhanen.

At the end of the show Malin stunned us even more by telling that they had originally composed an entire set of funk/techno inspired music and then decided to shelve it and compose a totally new work! As the final piece in the set, one of the initial work’s funk tunes was performed, and when Malin told people it’s okay to dance… the people obeyed!

I have never seen the Strathclyde Suite dancing like this, especially in a New Voices performance, but here they went a-partying, young and old, and I only regret I didn’t take a pic of Malin’s triumphant raised fist gesture at the end of the tune, with people cheering wildly in standing ovation.

I have read a music critic calling Malin Lewis the future of traditional music. And we testify to that. No further comments necessary, except that an album of this material is already in the works – people get ready!

Malin Lewis and band, raising people to their feet at the shows funky finale. Pic my me

3 thoughts on “Celtic Connections 2023: Malin Lewis

  1. Got to agree with both these comments – one of my favourite gigs of CC23. And we’re lucky enough to be seeing Malin play in Arisaig on 23 Feb, and later in the year in Glenuig.
    Funny enough, Ross Couper’s New Voices last year was also one of our favourite events. Both just joyous!

    Liked by 1 person

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