The Old Fruitmarket, 02/02
I’m here on the last weekend of the recurring winter dream that is Celtic Connections, the traditional music festival that’s lit up Glasgow’s many music venues over the past two weeks. Elephant Sessions take to stage in the atmospheric setting of The Old Fruitmarket, which has never more looked more beautiful than it does tonight. United by mutual love of traditional music as well as similar ideas about how it can be experimented with as a genre, Elephant Sessions’ star has been on the rise for a while now – their debut album All We Have Is Now won Album of the Year at the BBC Scottish Trad awards 2017, and they’ve a string of wildly successful shows around Britain and the European festival scene to boot.
With the vivid backlighting morphing into a strobe, the track everyone gets grooving to ‘I Used to Be a Nice Boy’. It’s an unquestionably catchy tune, and the crescendo culminates into the entire band furiously strumming away, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Next, the blissfully simple sound of the fiddle swells to fill the cavernous space. It’s ‘Fran’s’, an evocative song that’s simultaneously melancholic and joyful. A personal favourite was ‘Lament for Lost Dignity’, a beautiful tune that perfectly encapsulates the band’s admirable musical dexterity. Unabashed by a telling-off from a security guard, the crowd enthusiastically ceilidh dance as Elephant Sessions continue to perform their distinctive brand of neo trad awesomeness.
Elephant Sessions’ sound is shapeshifting; traditional music blended expertly with influences from a diverse range of genres, channelled effortlessly with their brilliant musical skill. Impressively, they self-write their own melodies and have achieved the oft elusive task of defying genre without losing their original essence.