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Welcome to Celtic Connections 2015

​Well, here we are again – can’t believe it’s been another year, etc, etc, but there are now NO MORE SLEEPS until Celtic Connections 2015!! (And, for many of us, not nearly enough sleep until February...)

Going by their name, festival favourites Le Vent du Nord were the ideal choice to brave this morning’s bracing blasts and entertain passers-by on the Concert Hall steps, greeting Day 1 in style, while excitement has been mounting for months over tonight’s sellout Opening Concert. Many a thought has been spared and good vibe channelled for the 90-odd musicians who’ve been collectively getting to grips with Martyn Bennett’s GRIT, in Greg Lawson’s brand new orchestral version, during the last couple of days’ final rehearsals. For those who missed out on even the last few choir-stall tickets, the BBC are filming the concert for broadcast on January 22nd, after which it’ll be available on iPlayer.

Among the many firsts encompassed by the show, one of the festival production team was tasked the other day with a somewhat unusual backline request – namely the loan of an actual yellow plastic GRIT bin from the council - as pictured on the original album sleeve – to feature in one of the four percussionists’ kit. Over and above the capacity crowd (and that’s including the choir stalls), one suspects it’ll be all too easy to imagine the wee man himself smiling down on proceedings.

Mind you, it’s just as well that festival staff aren’t an overly superstitious bunch, or there might have been some foreboding over the fact that the spanking new, 10-metre Celtic Connections banner, proudly hoisted and hung over the south door earlier this week, blew away during its first night up. “I came up Buchanan Street in the morning to get a proper look - and it was gone!” reported our less-than-impressed source. It had, however, been safely retrieved, and rather than fretting over omens, she went away muttering about enlisting some Boy Scouts to reattach it – “ie someone who can tie knots properly.”
Even at this early stage, reports are also filtering through about wannabe diva-ish behaviour on certain artists’ part. One major performer is insisting that their car to the hotel pick them up airside upon arrival, resulting in the kind of negotiations with Glasgow Airport security that the Celtic team just love to undertake at this stage of the game. At least by comparison, the one who’s asked to be booked in at their hotel under a false name (they’re really not that famous) doesn’t involve much hassle.

On a much more positive note, though, we’re really looking forward to having the Concert Hall building back as the primary festival hub, complete with the Strathclyde Suite, Exhibition Hall – once more housing the Late Night Sessions - and lots of musical stalls along the main foyer together with the CD emporium: we’ve sorely missed that buzz about the place, over the last couple of years’ refurbishments, and can’t wait to taste it again.

And lastly, just another reminder that holders of Glasgow Subway Smartcards can get £4 off Celtic Connections tickets THIS WEEKEND ONLY – ie Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th: full details on SPT's website ».