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Is it over? Did we make it?

​In reply to Lori Watson’s earlier Facebook enquiry – “Is it over? Did we make it? Is everyone OK?”, the answers are as follows: a) Yes (apart from one last sneaky Bert Inspired show tonight – last choir stalls tickets now released) b) We think so…but maybe ask us tomorrow? and c) Probably as well as can be expected…
 
The festival once again continued to place Glasgow firmly on the map, welcoming over 100,000 attendances to enjoy a spectacular array of artists and musicians invited to perform from all over the world. In total around 2,500 artists from countries including Argentina, Uruguay, Pakistan, India, Mali, Mongolia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, England, Senegal and Ireland and across Scotland gathered in Glasgow to perform around 300 events across 26 stages.

Approximately 108 events sold out, including Bixiga 70, Lucinda Williams, John Grant, Skipinnish & Friends, Jason Isbell, Skerryvore, Bwani Junction, Rhiannon Giddens, BEMIS celebrates Burns, Gathering Stream, The Alt, Daimh, Islay Night, Dreamers Circus and Fara.

Late Night Sessions and Hazy Recollections host Findlay Napier, for one, is clearly somewhat disconcerted at feeling better than expected: as he explained in a post this morning, for the first time in 19 years he didn’t make it to the final night of the Festival Club, and is thus experiencing the unfamiliar sensation, on this particular Monday, of “not having a hangover coupled with fear and loathing”. There will plenty of others making up for any shortcomings in that department, albeit hopefully without too much of the fear and loathing bit, even if Elephant Sessions member Alasdair Taylor has also been expressing mixed feelings: “I hate how much I love Celtic Connections.”
 
It was the final night in more ways than one for a longtime member of the core Celtic team, who’s moving on to a new job after this week. Artistic Director Donald Shaw laid on a rather special farewell flourish last night, arriving backstage as she enjoyed an after-hours drink, followed by Transatlantic Sessions stars Rhiannon Giddens, John Doyle and Mike McGoldrick, who sang ‘The Parting Glass’ for her: not a dry eye left in the room.
 
Also having a night to remember – probably forever – was concertina player Mohsen Amini, of Talisk and Ímar fame, now the newly-crowned Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, after a characteristically dazzling performance in yesterday’s closely-fought final at the City Halls. After playing a late-night set in the Festival Club with Ímar, he was last seen beaming from ear to ear onstage, among the 20-odd survivors who joined host Kevin Macleod for his now-traditional closing medley of classic covers. ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, ‘Shout’, ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and many more got the closing Celtic treatment, complete with flute, brass, bagpipes, accordion and a chorus of staff singers. (“It’s like a cross between Jethro Tull and Mike McGoldrick,” observed one slightly bemused listener - though probably not as bemused as any remaining Showcase Scotland delegates, who would have searched their programme in vain for any clues about booking this particular line-up.) There was Paddy Callaghan in a bright orange suit; Calum MacCrimmon decked out like some kind of beatnik prophet, and Adam Brown seemingly sporting a bright red frock and matching sequinned boa – and he didn’t even have the pretext of an instrument in his hands, just a can of Tennents.
 
Apparently there was crowd-surfing, too – and then after the happy rabble had eventually taken their final bow, the night held one last surprise in store, particularly for one lucky lady named Lucy, whose boyfriend Hugh jumped up onstage, took the microphone and proposed: her answer, thankfully, came in the affirmative, marking yet another festival first.