Alasdair Roberts & Friends - Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 3 May 2013 (4 stars)

Less a conventional folk gig than a subversive ceilidh organised by some cracked millenarian cult

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Alasdair Roberts & Friends - Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 3 May 2013

Photo: Annelie Rosenkrantz

Alasdair Roberts is hopping around the stage, picking out a jaunty Scottish dance tune on guitar. Huddled around him are fiddler Rafe Fitzpatrick and electric guitarist Ben Reynolds, while double-bassist Stevie Jones flanks them all, rocking and swaying as he locks in with Shane Connolly's ritualistic drum patterns. The mood grows ever more rambunctious as singer Olivia Chaney, viola da gamba player Alison McGillivray and a horn section join the proceedings before Fitzpatrick steps up to the microphone for his party piece, a Welsh language rap.

This is less a conventional folk gig than a subversive ceilidh organised by some cracked millenarian cult. Drawn almost entirely from Roberts' most recent album, the excellent A Wonder Working Stone, this set brings the old weird Caledonia of his imagination to vivid life. There are hearty choruses that laugh in the face of the apocalypse, and invitations to a merry wake, all set to inspired arrangements that combine serious folk scholarship with witty flourishes of country and western, colliery bands and Mingus jazz. The encore dips into the back catalogue with a stirring full-band version of 'Farewell Sorrow', before Roberts and Chaney duet on the darkly beautiful Child Ballad, 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland'.

Alasdair Roberts & Friends - Brother Seed

Alasdair Roberts and Friends – Wonder Working

Lyrical journeys of love, death, sex, faith and history – turning the wheels of the world. No-one is pushing the boundaries further. With Ben Reynolds, Shane Connolly, Rafe Fitzpatrick, Stevi Jones and Olive Chaney. ‘The sound of new myths and new music being hewn from folk’s stone.’ – The Wire

Alasdair Roberts

Spectral singer-songwriter with ancient folk leanings.

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