Duncan MacKinnon and Willie Campbell and the Open day Rotation – Ironworks, Inverness 15th October 2014. A review.

Duncan Mackinnon-2
Duncan took the stage unaccompanied and treated the audience to excellent renditions of a wide range of Gaelic classics.

Whilst walking through town to the Ironworks the ears were treated to a kaleidoscope of ceilidh sounds coming from the various pubs and venues being used for Mod 2014. At the Ironworks the Celtic theme continued as old met new in the shapes of Duncan MacKinnon and Willie Campbell and the Open Day Rotation.

Duncan MacKinnon hails from Skye and now resides on Lewis and was male Mod Gold Medallist in the 2011 Mod. Duncan took the stage unaccompanied and treated the audience to excellent renditions of a wide range of Gaelic classics. For each work he gave us informative introductions in both Gaelic and English.

The night was very much a family one with members of Duncan’s family in the crowd. This family element was heightened when he sang a song composed by his great uncle. Illustrating one of the great arts of Celtic musicianship Duncan showed the singer as composer when he gave us his own version of Oran na Caiora.

As a lone soloist in the vastness of the Ironworks Duncan could have been overwhelmed, however by his manner he very skilfully drew the audience to him and, helped by the lighting effects, made the large area into a small village hall.

After a short interval and maintaining the Celtic connection Willie Campbell and the Open Day Rotation took to the stage. Willie and his group hail from Lewis and tonight they numbered between five and seven.

Amongst the groups coming to mind as they played were shades of Talking Heads, Simply Minds and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Amongst the groups coming to mind as they played were shades of Talking Heads, Simply Minds and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

A wide range of instruments were present – keyboards, three guitars, bass, drums and saxophone. All were utilised through the course of the concert. The group played a bilingual set in English and Gaelic. They played a variety of material originating from their three releases. Half of the set came from their new CD Dalma.

Willie has had a wide ranging career and is not afraid to try new things – Dalma reflects this with the bulk of the work being in Gaelic. A number of different styles were covered in the performance including blues, country and rock.

Amongst the groups coming to mind as they played were shades of Talking Heads, Simply Minds and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Duncan returned on stage a couple of times to join in with songs. This was one of the attractions of the evening – the way old and new were melded together to make something totally new and unique.

The family theme of the evening continued with Willie singing songs dedicated to his mother and about his early life. Willie having been around a bit also has a balanced view of rural life – his songs reflect things may be good away but rurality has its strengths as well. The rest of the band also contributed greatly to the evening.

Willie  stated him and the group had an absolute blast.
Willie stated him and the group had an absolute blast.

There was some skilful guitar playing from the guitarists and some really effective vocal work between Willie and Fiona (keyboards). The bassist, saxophonist (Ashley) and drummer contributing to a well-rounded sound. At the end of the concert Willie returned for an encore of solo songs and closed the evening with a fine rendition of Your cheatin’ heart by Hank Williams.

An excellent evening provided by Ironworks and going back to the family connection it was really nice to see youngsters in the audience. It was also very pleasing to see the performers chatting to the audience both before and after the performance.

The only downside of the evening was the poor level of audience turnout possibly to be expected with so much activity going on in the town – Willie however stated him and the group had an absolute blast.

Thanks to Ironworks for hosting and also to the sound and lights team whose work enhanced already outstanding performances.

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Rob Polson can’t play a note but loves listening to music, especially played live. Likes any sort of music but particularly interested in ambient, early and world music. Being involved with InvernessGigs gives me the opportunity to get out and about and listen to music, try some new beer and also to develop my writing skills.