Lau

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Lau live on The Review Show

Lau perform live on The Review Show on BBC Two ahead of their gig at Celtic Connections. We asked Jon Oliver from the Daily Show to give us his view on how satirists and comedians have adapted to Obama's Presidency. Antonia Fraser's memoir of life with the late Harold Pinter is full of recollections of how the playwright thought and wrote about life and death. Kirsty Wark went to meet her.


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Lau and Crooked Still

The ABC, Glasgow - Saturday 22nd January

Richard Bull reports

Richard Bull

I walk into the ABC to the incredible sight of six pipers piping, five drummers drumming, four dancers dancing... It turns out to be Move, a spectacular project by Wild Biscuit, a.k.a. John Saich, along with multi-instrument-blower Fraser Fifield, Travis drummer Neil Primrose, Mid-Argyll Pipe Band, and the breakdancing crew Random Aspekts. It’s a blast – and if Scotland’s Got Talent ever makes it onto TV, they’re a shoo-in.

Excitement among the capacity crowd is running high in advance of the night’s two headliners – a pair of bands united by extreme virtuosity, an adventurous approach to folk music, and the ability to thrill.

Lau are as exciting as three men sitting down could possibly be. Tunes fly at you, then change direction and explode into pieces, before rising from the wreckage, bigger and stronger. To call Martin Green the Hendrix of the accordion doesn’t do justice to his wizardry, while Aidan O’Rourke fiddles with a rare ferocity, and Kris Drever strums with a right hand unrivalled for feel and rhythm, as well as delivering sublimely understated vocals.

Each a virtuoso in his own right, together they push each other to ever greater heights. It’s amazing to see a huge audience entranced during some really quite experimental passages. Perhaps because we know that at any moment the tune is going to hit us like a thunderbolt.

The handover between bands is brilliantly done. Crooked Still walk on, Lau walk off, and the concert continues seamlessly, momentum undissipated.

I think so highly of Boston’s Crooked Still that I’d place them in a continuum with Alison Krauss and Union Station, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: artists who’ve recreated bluegrass or old-time music as something fresh and different. In Crooked Still’s case it’s in part down to the influence of the Conservatory, in particular in the beautiful playing of cellist Tristan Clarridge. At times they seem at once a bluegrass group and a string quartet. Out in front, Aoife O’Donovan’s voice is a balm, and Greg Lizst on banjo is a force of nature.

When the two bands take the stage for three collaborative pieces, the excitement in the room is quadrupled. The mutual love of making music rings out. The night ends with the wordless vocals of The Burrian delivered with such force that Europe’s largest mirror ball spontaneously combusts. “This has been pretty much the best night ever,” Aoife exclaims, and she isn’t wrong.

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