Queens Hall, Edinburgh
by Sue Wilson, Hi-Arts
Formed way back in 1994, Skye's Peatbog Faeries now rank amoung the veterans of contemporary Celtic fusion, but far from slackening off or falling behind their younger contenders, they're sounding mightier than ever. With their signature sound of fiddle, pipes and whistles allied to electric guitar, bass keyboards and drums, the Peatbogs have always had a large and varied musical palette to draw from, mixing reels and jigs with the colours and rhythms of rock, world and dance music, to headily powerful effect.
Since they added a three piece brass section a couple of years ago, though - here comprising Rick Taylor on trombone, with saxophonists Nigel Hitckcock and Konrad Wiszniewski - their sound has taken on several new dimensions, in terms of both its scale and its multi-layered complexity. And with the nine-piece line-up now fully bedded in, this wealth of fresh possibilities has not only been thoroughly explored, but honed into resplendently slick, taut, intricate arrangements, and one of the best live shows on the current Celtic scene.
The diverse sounds and moods of the brass - from fanfare-like granduer to sassy banter, scorching intensity to slinky chutzpah - were a richly expansive element in themselves, meanwhile being artfully interwoven and interjected amoung the rest of the bands already kaleidoscopic soundscapes. The incorporation of new instruments and personalities additionally seems to have had a creatively invigorating effect all round, evident in such recent developments as the greater prominence of Tom Salter's superb electic guitar work, embellishing his trademark African-style picking and redblooded rock'n'roll attack.
Another winning introduction to their blend of vitage and contemporary dance grooves is that of 70's-style disco-funk, which might seem an unlikely bedfellow for traditional(ish) Scottish tunes, but in factcosied up brilliantly, while a couple of slower tunes made room for scorching solos from Wiesnewski. By the time we reached the closing number, an epically reworked version of the old favourite 'Folk Police' with its stormy edge of menace and majestic mounting drama, audience hands en masse were in the air - after an earlier conga line around the hall - and the mood matched that of any euphoric summer rave.
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