Non, je ne regrette rien

​Celtic Connections’ first foray into the realm of full-length stage musicals, with Piaf! The Show at the Theatre Royal, has proved a resounding success, with all-but full houses and standing ovations each night, further enhancing this year’s Showcase Scotland partnership with France. The production also delivered an unexpected treat for the majority female members of core Celtic team, after its starring actress Anne Carrere requested a hairdresser to help her prepare for opening night. Having styled Mlle Carrere’s vintage coiffure, our coiffeuse then swung by the festival production office, where a spot of well-earned pampering did much to revive and refresh our tireless staffers as they girded themselves for the weekend’s final onslaught – even if, for any other office visitors during this time, the sight of all this titivation (nails were also being painted) may have given a somewhat misleading impression of their workload.

There was also a slight mix-up with the Piaf! crew regarding props, which Celtic Connections thought they were bringing, and they thought the festival was providing – hence the fact that a veteran staff member’s to-do list on Thursday including getting hold of a park bench, a lamppost, a bicycle and an empty wine bottle. (The last item, it must be said, didn’t pose many difficulties.)

Business was gratifyingly brisk at this today’s Showcase Scotland Trade Fair, with musicians and UK industry organisations promoting their wares and meeting delegates from more than 20 countries. Yesterday’s presentation by last year’s international partners, New Zealand, highlighted the overall event’s continued effectiveness in achieving its aims, as our Kiwi friends reported numerous worldwide bookings for their six featured acts, arising directly from their visit to Glasgow: it would seem the long trip was definitely worth it. For our home-grown talent, meanwhile, it’s been calculated that Showcase Scotland generates a cool £2.2 million in total fee income each year: without it, our music would be the poorer in more ways than one.
The Showcase team also pride themselves on looking after delegates to the utmost, especially those unfamiliar with local conditions, as in the following tweet from yesterday: “Folks, if you're heading to Glasgow without a brolly today you may want to consider one. Or an ark.”

There were a good many Showcase delegates among the sellout crowd being blown away by Lau’s spectacular performance at the Concert Hall last night – almost as spectacular visually as it was musically, thanks to stunning work by their lighting engineer. For those who couldn’t be there, we thought it worth sharing a snippet of their characteristically droll stage banter, which led on from accordionist Martin Green’s explanation that the next number, from their 2012 album Race the Loser, had been written for its producer, Tucker Martine, who Green described as “a sonic wizard”.

“I call him that partly because he’s got a huge beard, which for me is quite key for a wizard,” Green continued. “If I ever met a wizard, and he didn’t have a big beard, I have to say I’d be disappointed.”

“What about Paul Daniels?” enquired bandmate Aidan O’Rourke.

 “I actually did meet Paul Daniels once,” Green replied. “He didn’t exceed my expectations.”
Among the ecstatic plaudits for Lau that came thick and fast on Twitter, we found the following somewhat cryptic missive regarding another Scottish musician: “Ross Ainslie and his wisthle... #enoughsaid”. Now we’re assuming that ‘wisthle’ is an inadvertent misspelling, but if anyone knows different – or, indeed, what lies behind the message as a whole – do please let us know.