Blazin' Fiddles with Karen Matheson at The Queen’s Hall for two nights was probably many people’s idea of a perfect line up of Traditional Scottish Music talent, and I caught up with the show on its second night as they played to a well-attended venue and appreciative audience.
Blazin’ Fiddles are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and I have to admit that somehow, as schedules have always clashed, this is my first time with the band in live performance, so the big question for me was “is this band as good as everyone has been telling me over the years”? Well, on paper with a line up of hugely talented musicians that include Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Rua Macmillan. Kristan Harvey, Anna Massie and Angus Lyon, the answer would look to be a simple yes. There is such an enormous depth of musical talent playing out there at the moment though that you have to have that something extra to survive, so what has kept Blazin’ Fiddles so popular for 20 years? Well, apart from the obvious musical talent, their songs, their music, but maybe more than that, their ability to connect with people and make them feel as if they are amongst old friends listening to their music and stories in a warm and friendly room on maybe a dark winter’s night with a few drinks being shared in good company. The space at The Queen’s Hall seemed to shrink to around their performance area, and that is a rare gift for any band to have.
Celebrating their 20th birthday, we of course took a trip through their musical catalogue with songs like “Annie's Waltz” and “The Black Pig” getting appreciative applause as the band effortlessly moved from slow ballads to waltzes to foot stomping barn rousers without dropping a beat. Blazin’ Fiddles are very good and instinctively seem to know just the right moment to change musical styles and rhythms with their audience.
Also celebrating their 20th birthday with them on stage tonight for some songs, Karen Matheson, and despite opening apologies for a “little frog” in her throat, songs including waulking songs, and Robert Burns classic “Ae Fond Kiss” sounded just fine from where I was sitting. Always nice too to hear Karen Matheson singing the always emotionally powerful words of “The Aragon Mill”, a song that with its story of the closure of a traditional industry and the impact that has on the workforce for whom that is not only their skill, but their livelihood seems to have as so much to say about modern times too as the relentless closure of traditional jobs continues across the country.
A great show to add to the long list of them that the band have obviously played over the years. Happy 20th birthday Blazin' Fiddles.
Review by Tom King
Blazin' Fiddles with Karen Matheson
The Queen's Hall - Queen's Hall
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Blazin' Fiddles, Karen Matheson