The first of my, many, Celtic Connections 2011 gigs this year. We turn up after a quick visit to Blackfriars to find that although the ticket says ‘Doors 18:30’ this is not true. My designated driver and I are finally allowed access to the hall about 19:15. ‘No seats tonight’ sees us speed to the balcony where we can lean on the rail and hold small infants over at arms length trying to emulate Michael Jackson. Every time I visit this venue it’s configured differently and tonight doesn’t buck the convention (otherwise I wouldn’t have typed that); I’ve seen bench seats, round tables, normal pews, they certainly keep the staff busy and on their toes. We have a quick drink at the bar, before the band comes on, and then ten minutes of people spotting. Again there’s something different, the bar closes during the performance, not a bad thing and keeps the noise of bottles & tills in another room.
My grasp of accents isn’t the greatest and, for once, not having done my homework, I have this sextet down as East European. Turns out they’re actually Portuguese, with a penchant for Billy Idol, but not too sharp on the geography front either. The singer, a fetching busty lady who does a fine impression of someone who has already had too many whiskies, applauds the audience for voting to stay out of Europe (???) Anyway I’m fair taken with this crew. It’s Fado but not your normal stuff, more like Punk-Fado. Oddly I say sextet but they only use the trumpeter (wearing a military sort of hat) on the opening and closing numbers. I’ve checked them out on YouTube and while there’s clearly more than one trumpeter (is he their driver/roadie?) that hat’s always in residence.