Phamie Gow and Phriends at The Queen's Hall, a special one night only performance featuring Phamie on piano, harp and vocals, was an event that interested me on many levels. With this show was the chance to catch up with the music of one of Scotland's most creative composers/performers blending classical music with traditional Celtic music, instruments and sounds, whilst also blending music in with an African/Jazz twist at times. The result was a unique creation of music that belonged to not one country or culture but, as music should do, belonged to everywhere without any boundaries. This cross-pollination of musical sources may not be to the liking of purists of any one genre but, for myself, I always like musicians who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what people expect from them, and Phamie Gow clearly has an, at times, inspired vision to her work.
The format of this show is of course in its title, “Phamie Gow and Phriends” and those “Phriends” on stage with her tonight included Fraser Fifield, Kev Mackenzie, Su-a Lee, Mattie Foulds, Benilde Foko, Mario Caribe, Makou Seck Gawlo, James Graham and Robert Young plus a few surprise ones too. The international influences on Phamie’s music are obvious here as “phriends” hail from Scotland, Senegal, Cameroon, France and Korea.
Equally at home and equally as creative on harp and piano, special arrangements of her music tonight ranged from the first album “Winged Spirit” to new musical projects like “The Traveller”. It is obvious that the one constant inspiration throughout all of this music is Phamie’s connection with the wonders of sight, sounds, and scents around us in this world which all too many of us just let pass by us without ever stopping to be “inspired and bewitched” by them.
Opening this show on harp with “The Angel’s Share” and a melody of songs on piano, the musical style for the evening was quickly established and we were joined on stage by the first of our “Phriends”.
Living in different countries and cultures across the world is always a rich source of inspiration for any creative person, and perhaps the most special of all those creative moments for Phamie comes from a time spent living in France and a stay at a friend’s run down chateau – the wonderful piano composition “The Milky Way”. Other influences from Phamie’s travels are reflected in “Carousel” and a specially commissioned work by author Ricardo Pinto for his “The Stone Dance of the Chameleon” trilogy. Traditional Celtic music sources are never far from Phamie Gow and music from the “Dancing Hands” album interestingly contrasted and complemented other styles here.
This show was very much in the style of friends coming and going on stage with unexpected guests turning up, and one of those was local author Alexander McColl Smith with a reading of two of his poetical works. Also joining us as a special guest tonight was award winning Gaelic singer James Graham .
Getting this sort of “open stage” show format is always difficult to balance as you can run the risk of losing that cohesive nature of a single project and its sounds, but the balance worked well here to give everyone a diverse selection of inspirational, enjoyable and relaxed music.
Phamie Gow and Phriends
The Queen's Hall
2 hours 30 minutes
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Phamie Gow
Review by Tom King