Live Review: Wildings + Twelfth Day & Friends

St. Andrews in the Square, 22nd January

“As you are aware,” Fiona MacAskill, Wildings’ wonderful fiddle player, tells us at the start of their gig, “when you are a musician, you have to go travelling together often.” Tonight, while we stay in the gorgeous venue in St. Andrews in the Square, the music of Wildings and Twelfth Day takes us to Ireland, Orkney, Syria, Texas, Skye and the Borders. With my eyes closed, I’m transported to green, rolling hills, or spotting seagulls floating above a salty seaside town.

Wildings end with a 15-minute piece, made up of 6 different tunes that weave everything in their music – the joy, harmony, darkness, energy and peacefulness – together. The three instruments, flute, fiddle and keyboard, merge into one and, joining hands together, dance on top our heads and into the wide space of the church. Swirling past the fairy lights around the pillars like those at ancient Greek temples, bouncing off the white ceiling with beautiful golden decoration.

While Wilding’s fiddler Sarah Hayes only sings one song, the absolutely beautiful ‘The Beggar man’, most of Twelth Day’s tunes are accompanied by singing. The voices of Catriona Price, playing the fiddle, and Esther Swift, on the harp, have something ghostly in them. I definitely prefer the more sweetly sounding voice of Swift, but I suppose that the two voices in unison do create a unique sound. Yet I find the elongating of words a bit too much, and enjoy the instrumental tunes better.

The connection between Price and Swift is brilliant – the sound of the two instruments commenting to and complementing each other. The girls are all smiles and bobbing heads, just as many members of the audience. An energy – to my mind, inexperienced in folk-gigs or music – would expect at a pop concert rather than a folk gig.

While Twelth Day is just Price and Swift, for tonight they have brought many friends to join them on stage, making it the first time they play with a band. The most memorable guest is Maya Youssef, on the qanun. While most of the night sees music rooted in Irish, Highland or American country traditions, with Youssef the girls play the sound of Syria. A melancholic and heavy song that doesn’t want to be caged.

Sunday night at St. Andrews in the Square was a fest of folk music, with the two ladies of Twelfth Day and their obvious joy of performing and collaborating always as the centrepiece.  

[Aike Jansen]


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