Celtic Connections: Roaming Roots Revue presents Born to Run, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sun 26 Jan (4 stars)

Celtic Connections: Roaming Roots Revue presents Born to Run: 70th Birthday Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sun 26 Jan

Roddy Hart & the Lonesome Fire and The Rails / credit: Gaelle Beri

Roddy Hart leads an international cast of artists to pay tribute to The Boss including Craig Finn, Ryan Bingham, Phil Campbell, Lisa Hannigan, Karine Polwart, The Rails and Jonathan Wilson

Following up last year's anniversary celebration of The Beatles' Abbey Road, Celtic Connections' eighth annual Roaming Roots Revue honours Bruce Springsteen in light of his 70th birthday. Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire provide musical direction and also act as the house backing band for the night, hosting an international cast of Springsteen-loving musicians: The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, American singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, Irish folk-pop songstress Lisa Hannigan, London folk-rock duo The Rails, American musician/producer Jonathan Wilson and Scotland's own Phil Campbell and Karine Polwart.

Roddy Hart opens the show with a cover of 'Growin' Up' and from then on the first half is dedicated to introducing the participating artists and giving them an opportunity to showcase some of their own material. Ryan Bingham performs his song 'Southside of Heaven', a solo acoustic number with harmonica that immediately brings Nebraska-era Springsteen to mind. Phil Campbell, decked out in a purple velvet blazer, covers Springsteen's 'Western Stars' with piano accompaniment, while Lisa Hannigan's own song 'Fall' is spell-binding.

'When I heard this song when I was young, I realised that my dream of yelling poetry at someone was possible', Craig Finn says before launching into a rousing cover of Springsteen's nearly ten-minute epic 'Jungleland'. Finn is charmingly animated throughout and Gordon McNeil does a superb job stepping into Clarence Clemons' shoes for the song's iconic saxophone solo.

After the intermission, Roddy Hart and his band tackle 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out', to which the crowd responds with the customary cries of 'Bruuuuuce'. Jonathan Wilson's picks are 'Brilliant Disguise' and 'Highway Patrolman', while The Rails opt for 'Because the Night' (complete with the signature guitar solo) and 'Racing in the Street'. Karine Polwart performs a haunting rendition of 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' and gets the somewhat reserved crowd going with 'The Rising'. Many artists have covered 'I'm on Fire' over the years, but perhaps none more beautifully than Lisa Hannigan does tonight.

Ryan Bingham shares that he met The Boss himself backstage after one of his Springsteen on Broadway shows and Springsteen commented that the pair had something in common: they both wrote a song for a film that went on to win an Oscar for 'Best Original Song'. This story was of course a segue into Bingham covering 'Streets of Philadelphia'.

They certainly saved the big numbers for last: 'Born to Run' is led by Finn and Campbell, followed by 'Badlands' and 'Dancing in the Dark' with the entire group, but it's Roddy Hart who has the last word with a moving rendition of 'Thunder Road'. What a fine example of Springsteen's extensive catalogue and the influence that he has had on so many future generations of musicians from around the world.

Reviewed at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium on Sun 26 Jan.

Roaming Roots Revue presents Born To Run: 70th Birthday Tribute to Bruce Springsteen

If ever a birthday called for extended celebrations, it’s surely Bruce Springsteen’s 70th, in September 2019. During his nearly 50-year recording career, The Boss has scored 11 US No.1 albums, winning 20 Grammy awards, two Golden Globes, an Oscar, a Tony and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Roaming Roots Revue 2020 sees…

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