Review and photos by Keith Belcher
Sunday 14th January , The Live Room, Caroline Social Club, Saltaire. The Outside Track. The first gig of the year for both venue and band. The Outside Track are rightly regarded as one of the very best pan-Celtic bands . This was their first visit to The Live Room and their first get together as a band for 103 days. The band, comprised of the two Scottish founder members Scottish highlander Fiona Black on accordion and , Edinburgh born Ailie Robertson on harp. Also Breton Islander Mairi Rankin on fiddle, Co.Cork’s Teresa Horgan on flute, whistles and lead vocals and Finland dwelling , Perthshire born, Michael Ferrie on guitar.
A serious logistical nightmare for meeting up, practicing and recording but they really make it work well. From the very opening you would not have known they hadn’t played together for such a length of time. A brilliantly paced set, mingling Irish, Scottish, Canadian, French and English influences and much ,much more. It was always energetic and driving, no one, despite invitations, other than Mairi danced but there was some serious foot tapping and chair shuffling. They mixed energetic but at the same time sensitive instrumentals with songs.
Lead vocals on songs were mainly from the very versatile voice of Teresa Horgan which adjusted to the humorous and also sometimes poignant songs. In the instrumentals all instruments shared leads but intertwined beautifully with some high degrees of delicate interchange. A large part of the show comprised material from their last CD Light Up The Dark (LUTD).
The first 3 songs and tunes were from that CD opening with Set You Free. The aptly named Body Parts Set from Flash Company followed, so named as the translation from the French is Reel of the Cramped Arse Cheek and the Neckbelly Set. As they said the french title seemed more romantic! The remainder of the first set shot by including Brandy Wines from Ailie’s solo album and a new , as yet unrecorded set of tunes entitled The Queen of Rangoon Set, hopefully for their 5th album release this summer if logistics allow. If the rest of the new album is of that standard it will be a superb album. A humorous introduction to a sing along Mountain Road from Flash Company compared the song to speed dating in Ireland as there is a baby by the third verse. Great singing from both band and audience ended set 1.
Set 2 opened with more from LUTD. A lively set of tunes entitled The Drilling Set moved to a Lenny Gallant song Pete’s Dream about the decline of the East Canadian fishing industry. Changing the mood totally Teresa’s intro to The Wrong House Set comically told of attempting to find the correct house they were lodging in when all looked the same. A delicate harp and guitar intro leading to a full foot stomping crescendo. Mood change again with Nanci Griffith’s Trouble in the Fields, a beautiful and moving song , the definitive version of the song (in my opinion) must be Maura O’Connell’s version but Teresa did a wonderful cover. Upping the pace again more instrumentals including Panic! from Curious Things Given Wings and another step dance exhibition by Mairi before finishing the show with the Kathryn Roberts inspired Whitby Maid .
They weren’t going to get away without an encore and Le Voyage from Curious Wings finished the show brilliantly. Hopefully they will be back soon with a new album.