Tales from a suitably wild opening weekend continue to filter in

​Tales from a suitably wild opening weekend continue to filter in: with a total of 46 main-programme gigs taking place over the past three days and nights, it’s not easy to keep tabs on all the city-wide shenanigans. One priceless highlight we’d missed from Shooglenifty’s Night For Angus on Saturday was a massed version of a party-piece for which Angus himself was seemingly renowned, comprising Queen songs sung in the style of Gaelic psalms, further enhanced by a few customised lyrics. And thus towards the end of the gig, a stage packed with musicians and singers led their entire, euphoric 2100-strong ‘congregation’ in an extended medley including ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, ‘Bicycle Race’ and of course ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – in which the question posed was whether Callanish, rather than Scaramouche, could do the fandango (entertaining mental image there. . .) We’re really hoping someone got some good video.
It also grew clear during yesterday that an awful lot of folk who stayed out after their gigs on Saturday went on to party not wisely but too well: Sunday’s after-hours proceedings at both the Festival Club and the Holiday Inn were decidedly on the quiet side. A certain member of bagpipe ten-piece Tryst had only fragmentary but perturbing recollections of his Saturday night’s final stages: the main thing he’d retained was losing his vertical hold and falling into a bush, while mid-conversation outside with a bunch of people - but he’d no idea who, so any fresh conversation in the club last night began with him checking if this was someone he owed an apology. (As to how he’d found a bush in central Glasgow to fall into, it was one of the Holiday Inn’s plastic ones.) By the time we left, though, he’d yet to find anyone else who remembered anything either.
Sunday’s line-up of shows looks to have produced another swathe of happily satisfied customers, to judge by online feedback, with representative posts and tweets including “A rich, quirky musical pot-pourri. . . perfect”, for Hazy Recollections; “Amazing” (Seth Lakeman); );“Uplifting” (Phil Cunningham’s Highlands and Islands Suite); “Incredible” (Twelfth Day), and “Astonishing. . . dazzling. . . songwriting to make your jawbone tingle” (Sarah Jarosz). And while it wasn’t entirely clear which gig one Spanish-speaking Facebook poster had attended, the fact that she signed off with “Gracias, spectacular” would suggest she enjoyed it.
As already noted, most audience members beat a shrewdly strategic retreat after their gigs wrapped up, what with the pesky matter of jobs to go to and all. Festival manager Jade Hewat was seen determinedly heading homeward around 10.30, positively gleeful at the prospect of time to do some laundry before she was due back in.
Those hardy souls – and dancers – who did continue to the Art School were rewarded with another excellent Festival Club line-up, including the very wonderful Blue Rose Code; former Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Robyn Stapleton, showcasing her new Burns material ahead of Wednesday’s gig for Rabbie’s birthday, and fine young instrumental five-piece Aizle.
This last act’s members include Inverness-born fiddler Graham Mackenzie – youngest ever winner of a Danny Kyle Open Stage Award, back in 2003 – who must still get an extra kick from playing the club at Celtic, given how Liz Clark used to sneak him into the Central Hotel, when he was just 10 or 11, by lying to the security that his parents were already backstage: a true child of the festival.
Back at the Holiday Inn, while the couple of dozen diehards still in the bar were a far cry from the uproarious masses of 24 hours previously, a beautifully choice farewell session of Stateside songs and tunes from Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys – who left this morning for a few more Scottish dates, having reaped a whole heap of new fans from their weekend in Glasgow – offered ample payback ffor their stamina.
Lastly, a couple of updates on events still to come: following last night’s live ceilidh version, the original 2016 film of Where You’re Meant To Be, chronicling Aidan Moffat’s revelatory encounter with the late great Sheila Stewart on his 2014 Scottish tour, will be screened at Drygate on Saturday 28th January, showtime 5pm. And more tickets were released today for the mouthwatering double bill of Four Men and a Dog with Ímar on Friday – but you’ll need to get in there quick.