Halfway through their electrifying set at the Assembly Rooms, VAMM paused to tell us that their name is an old Shetlandic word meaning ‘to bewitch or entrance’. Sure enough, even by this point we had all been completely beguiled by this charming trio and their innovative brand of folk with a flourish.

VAMM is Patsy Reid (fiddle, viola), Catriona McDonald (fiddle) and Marit Fält (låtmandola), all established musicians and veterans of other groups who have come together to unite their diverse influences and styles, creating an intriguing and powerful sound. The trio play a mix of traditional and contemporary songs, including works by composers such as Jim Sutherland, from a range of different cultures, but have only one strict rule – it must be a good tune. Indeed there were plenty of these on show this evening.

VAMM, all three appropriately glam for the ballroom setting, began with ‘The Duchess’, a delicate yet intricate number that only hinted at the outstanding musicianship each would display over the course of the set. Next up was ‘Castle Grant’, introduced by a story about their recent trip to said castle, which they had found to be utterly dour but nevertheless inspired a decent tune. The often humorous storytelling was a welcome feature of the evening as each proved to be a gregarious presence, comfortably engaging with the audience in between songs. This was especially apparent before ‘The Ostrich’ when they enlightened us of the correct sound the bird makes before launching into a striking rendition of Sutherland’s reel.

The group’s Scandinavian inflections came to the fore on ‘Felgubben’ and ‘Lurkas’, allowing Fält to demonstrate the full range of her curious instrument, a type of mandola “with an added bass string and some extras” that provides the group’s grounding power. Both tunes were intriguing and deeply textured, though the latter waltz was somewhat ponderous, particulary after the wonderful, anthemic ‘Prospect Road’ that had preceded it.

The show had a fittingly barnstorming conclusion with three rousing jigs, the last of which, ‘The Winning Ticket’, was an apt description of the night as a whole. This trio blends their diverse influences seamlessly with a great deal of panache and impressive instrumental skills to create an enthralling and forceful sound.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Patsy Reid former fiddle player with Breabach, Catriona Macdonald ex-Blazin’ Fiddles, and Nordic mandola master Marit Fält. They play contemporary and traditional tunes that push their musicianship to the limit, moving from intricate, near-classical arrangements to bass thumping rhythms.

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