Nicola Benedetti, The Pop Group and Amadou & Mariam among highlight of Celtic Connections 2014

Nicola Benedetti, The Pop Group and Amadou & Mariam among highlight of Celtic Connections 2014

Amadou & Mariam

Malian afropop, Bristolian post-punk and Icelandic and Gaelic songwriters converge for Glasgow festival

It’s January, so it must be Celtic Connections – the best reason to put off the post-Christmas detox until February. The opening week brings the familiar mix of folk, roots, jazz and world music, kicking off with a preview of violinist Nicola Benedetti’s forthcoming ‘Scottish-themed’ album, featuring a parade of well-known faces from the world of traditional music, including Julie Fowlis, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.

The first few days cram in a number of enticing prospects. In a Creeping Bent special, Bristolian post-punk legends The Pop Group share the bill at the O2 ABC with Davy Henderson’s The Sexual Objects. And at the Tron, the National Jazz Trio of Scotland take the lead on a collaboration that unites the talents of Icelandic singer/songwriter Benedikt Hermannsson’s brass rock ensemble Benni Hemm Hemm, Alasdair Roberts and triple-pipe revivalist Barnaby Brown, with each playing their own set as well as collaborations.

Grammy-winning Malian husband-and-wife duo Amadou and Mariam (pictured) bring their stunning multi-sensory show Eclipse to Scotland for the first time. Both blind since childhood, in Eclipse they tell the story of their lives through performance. Staged in complete darkness, the show blends afropop and soul music with storytelling, scents and sounds from their native land.

As always, it’s the satellite events that make Celtic Connections and Glasgow such a throng of activity at the gloomy end of the year. As well as music and language workshops and open-stage events, the popular late-night sessions at the National Piping Centre distil the festival atmosphere into a nightly knees-up, with all kinds of famous names popping by after their big shows for impromptu sets.

Various venues, Glasgow, 16 Jan–2 Feb 2014

Celtic Connections Opening Concert

This year's festival opens with the live world premiere of Martyn Bennet's final masterpiece Grit. Reconstructed by violinist and composer Greg Lawson for an orchestra of folk, jazz and classical players the performance features approximately 80 musicians and singers.

The Pop Group

Mixing free jazz, dub and funk with the urgency and ferocity of punk the influential Bristol post-punk quartet reunite.

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