A Nicht Wi' Burns

It was wi' some trepidation 'at Ah installed myself at a table, pint in hain, fur a thee hoors burns’ session. a fan ay th' stoatin cheil, Ah did also wonder whether th' nicht woods drag in places an' whether, as an sassenach lass, i’d be able tae follaw aw - ur onie! - ay whit was gonnae oan. Ah needn’t hae woriat. althoogh Ah didn’t quite catch every wuid, Ah left th' venue wi' nae only a renewed appreciation ay burns, but wi' a sense ay awe an' respect fur th' fowk performin' tonecht. th' ability tae stain up in a room ay fowk an' recite a lang poem micht gie th' michael goves ay thes warld weak at th' knees - but don’t lit thes pit ye aff. thaur was naethin' remotely self-important an' pompoos abit these acts. thes was old-fashioned entertainment in th' best possible sense: generoos-spirited, unselfconscioos, an' wi' a body fit in th' pest.

thes is entertainment in th' purest an' richest sense ay th' warld.

jim bowes is uir host throoghit th' nicht, introducin' th' acts, an' providin' a boonty ay helpful an' interestin' biographical detail. behin' heem a slideshaw screens relevant imagery, sae thaur is aye somethin' tae swatch at. material includes: songs performed by individuals - sam mackay’s ‘handsome nell’ stands it particularly, althoogh we coods lose th' unpleasant synthesizer soond - th' equivalent ay a boybain key change; dramatic recitals, sic' as th' glorioos ‘tam o’ shanter’ by 85 year auld, willie kirk; theatrical pieces - a favoorite bein' ‘the libel summons’, in which thee jurors sit in judgement ay tois men fa deny impregnatin' tois kimmers - th' first time thes has bin performed dramatically. some eighteenth-century scots female body parts ur a wee stoaner tae kin, but we gie th' gist. a yoonger cheil, andy quinn, plays th' poit in ‘holy willie sketch’, a dig at th' hypocrisy ay th' free kirk ay scotland; while jim kelly has jist th' reit comic capability fur breathin' life intae ‘the death an' dyin' words ay puir mailie’. silly humoor - ay th' kin' ye hud tae make at haem pre-tv days - has tois audience members dressin' up as sheep fur whit turns it tae be an oddly movin' poem. willie fisher an' paul mitcheel ay white satin provide rockier musical moments; while singer fionne mcque takes oan th' mantle ay bein' th' yoongest an' only female performer oan thes testosterone-heavy nicht. she has a sweit but strang voice, an' wins ower th' audience, leadin' us fur th' finale ay ‘auld lang syne’.

hugh lupton recalled th' storyteller, singer, an' writer, duncan williamson sayin' tae heem 'at that ‘when ye teel a story, ur sin' a sang, th' bodie ye heard it frae is standin' behin' ye. when 'at bodie spoke, he, in turn, hud a teller behin' heem, an' sae oan, back an' back an' back’. tonecht it feels as thocht thaur ur mony ghosts in th' room, aw noddin' an' lookin' oan in approbation. th' organisers ay tonight’s celebration shoods be prood ay whit they’ve achieved: thes is entertainment in th' purest an' richest sense ay th' warld.

Reviews by Ella Moran-Jones

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

The Mercenary Fiddler AKA Elsa Jean McTaggart

★★★
The Jazz Bar

Nick Harper

★★★★
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's

Mairearad and Anna

★★★★★
The Jazz Bar

Newt North

★★★★
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's

John Renbourn and Wizz Jones

★★★
The Jazz Bar

Americana Road Trip

★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

It’s 254 years since Scotland’s Bard first put quill to paper, but still with a powerful message, Burns aficionados from local Burns clubs present the magic of his poetry and songs. Already a five-star production.