Capercaillie : 1999 tour

Dusk to Dawn

Cambridge Corn Exchange
Tuesday 18 May 1999

My second Capercaillie concert, which I enjoyed as much as my first . (But I still thought the balance between vocals and instrumental was slightly wrong -- the vocals again got drowned out on a couple of occasions, especially during some of the great "mouth music" numbers.) There was one massive improvement over the previous concert, though: the warm-up act. This time around it was Brendan Power (mouth organ) and Andy White (guitar/vocals), playing folky numbers. The act wasn't out of this world (except maybe Lament for the 21st Century , a mouth organ solo with tons of reverb, which was something special), but it was certainly pleasant enough to listen to.

[Dusk to Dawn]

This is the tour to accompany Capercaillie's new "Best of" album, Dusk to Dawn , which I must admit I haven't got, since I think I already have all the tracks, from the original albums. The line-up was Karen Matheson (vocals), Donal Shaw (accordian/keyboards), Marc Duff (recorder/whistles/bhodran), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Manus Lunny (bouzouki), Michael McGoldrick (flute/pipes), Ewen Vernal (bass guiter), Wilf Taylor (drums), and Chimp (percussion).

Again, most of the performance comprised the toe-tapping instrumental jigs and reels, with superb performances from the flute and fiddle, and the highly complex and fast Gaelic "puirt a beul" or "mouth music". There were also a few of their slower songs (slow in absolute terms, that is; everything is slower that puirt a beul !).

[To the Moon]

And again there were two encores, although some of the audience didn't seem to understand the game, and left during the applause. [Hint, folks: if the house lights haven't come up, there's almost certainly an encore waiting in the wings.] For the first, it was a song from their album To the Moon : "God's Alibi" (with the opening lines "Spring in Macedonia/The last clean pocket on a blood soaked coat", written several years ago, but now given special significance by the current Kosovo situation), followed by a mood change with several lively reels. For the second, they performed one of my favourites, the Delirium album song "Coisich, a Rùin" (which I felt wasn't as sharp a performance as the last time I heard it, but still greatly enjoyable).

Another excellent evening's music.

reviewed 22 May 1999