Pick how you want to celebrate Burns Night: eating haggis or listening to a trio of Gaelic singers from the Islands. The full house at the Rennie MacIntosh-designed Glasgow Art Club didn’t seem to be missing their traditional Burns Suppers, when the first performer of the night, Lewis-born Norrie MacIver, stepped onto the stage. Two songs into the set, he had the audience singing along to “Faili Faili” and nodding to the rhythm. Next up was “An Eala Bhan,” a song he performs with Manran, but in this intimate setting, with only his guitar for accompaniment, the love song sounded sweeter than ever. MacIver charmed us with his music and the tale of how he disappointed his granny. He certainly didn’t disappoint the audience, many of whom joined their voices with his on the last song of the set, “A Ribhinn Og.”
Next up was Alasdair Whyte from Mull, one of the youngest Mod Gold recipients. With a guitar and piano to back (and occasionally overwhelm) him, it took two songs before Whyte relaxed into his set and the full beauty of his voice could be appreciated on ”Mo Chaileag Shuaineartach.” The last two songs in his set continued to show off his depth and range of his voice and a hint of his personal charm.
Gillebride MacIllemhaoil from South Uist was the last performer on stage, bringing with him a pianist, a guitarist and fiddler. The grand piano may have been one instrument too many in the small confines of the Art Club, and while the fiddle was a sweet addition, it sometimes tended to cover rather than support the vocals. Nevertheless, MacIllemhaoil’s beautiful voice and phrasing came through. “An Teid Thu,” a very sad love song written during the Clearances, was especially fine, and there followed excellent renditions of “Air Forladh” and a Gaidhlig version of the trad favorite “Norland Wind” (aka “The Wild Geese”). And while I enjoyed his set at the Art Club, it was by a fortunate accident at the House of Song where I had the great pleasure of hearing him sing unaccompanied and heard the real depth and emotion of his voice. A very great talent, he needs no instruments save his voice and his presence to hold you rapt.
— Catherine Keegan