Broadway Baby

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After striding into the Assembly Ballroom to tumultuous applause, guitarist Ewan Robertson’s wry remark was, ‘Hope you enjoyed the dramatic entrance there.’ The chuckles of the audience mixed with the four other band members who make up celebrated highland folk band Breabach perfectly encapsulated the warm and winsome evening to follow.

Back at the Fringe after two years and two albums away, they played through sets comprised of several different tunes, sampling eras of history and locations around Scotland. Each was explained by a single band member charmingly taking turns to speak and chat: piper and flutist Calum Macrimmon dedicated the roaring ‘Gig Face’ to his girlfriend sat in the audience, whilst fellow multi-instrumentalist James Duncan Mackenzie was left blushing after his unfortunate corduroy shirt and trousers combination was pointed out by Robertson.

The sets were markedly varied, encompassing flutes, bagpipes, guitars, double bass and violin, as well as choral elements and lusty shouts that punctuated any changes. Opener ‘New Paradigm’ had an almost oriental lilt that perfectly contrasted with fiercer and faster efforts like ‘Captain Campbell’s Quickstep’. The audience were sometimes called upon to sing along with melodies, including during a Gaelic track that faded to a delicate acapella section.

There was no percussion and none required: James Lindsay’s throbbing double bass combined with stomping feet kept the collective in time and prevented any tune from lapsing even in tempo changes. Megan Henderson even set down her fiddle and clambered to the front of the stage to supplement the tunes with step-dance on several occasions, adding a rattling rhythm to proceedings.

Their cavernous sound fitted well under the glitzy ceiling and vast chandeliers. What especially impressed was that they made such vast and multi-layered music that it seemed to demand more musicians than the five onstage. The roars upon their exit meant they swiftly returned for an encore so impromptu that the house lights had begun to rise and it can only be hoped that Breabach’s return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will not be another few years in the making.


Venue Number 20. The Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street,Edinburgh, EH2 2LR . 5-6 August 21:00 (1 hour). Suitability: 14+. under 16's must be accompanied by an adult

The Blurb

Nominated simultaneously in the BBC Radio 2 and Scottish Traditional Music awards as Best Group, Breabach’s originality on double bagpipes, fiddle, vocals and bass have earned them an international reputation as one of Scotland’s foremost acts.

Call Sheet

Production Company
Breabach
The Assembly Rooms


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