Concert Review – Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham

Concert Review: Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham – Wade Street Church – Saturday, March 14th

Word by Ben Macnair with Photography by David Jones

A near-capacity Wade Street Church and the celebrated duo of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham were the key ingredients when the much-admired Scottish musicians appeared in Lichfield on Saturday 14th March.

They played music from their newest release No Rush, which showcased a more mature, slower pace to their music-making. With a couple of fiddles and an accordion, they showcased the sound that has seen them sell-out concerts, and appear on albums with everyone from Mark Knopfler, to Scottish musicians and ensembles, as well as being core members of the Transatlantic Sessions band.

As important to the concert as the music was their on-stage repartee and tales of life on the road, and in Scotland, and the travails of ageing and life.

As well as the jigs, reels, hornpipes and strathspeys of traditional Scottish and Folk music, they also played a series of their compositions, which ranged from the slow majestic air of Lightly Swims the Swan, and Loch Katrine’s Lady. The slow, but uplifting Dr Robbie Shepherd MBE allowed for some fine playing from the pair, whilst a selection of more rousing jigs and reels helped to raise the roof.

The traditional Hector the Hero and the Swedish The Peukan showed how widely Celtic styles and sound travels and influences music, and the medley of Lyckovalsen (Happy Waltz) and Phil Cunningham’s own piece Skipping with Riean showed how well pieces from different countries and times can dovetail into one another.

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