Review: Skerryvore @ Lichfield Guildhall

With more than 10 years together as a live band and four albums into their career, it was no surprise that the award winning and critically acclaimed Scottish band Skerryvore kept the near capacity audience’s attention when they played at Lichfield Guildhall.

With their roots and origins as a Ceilidh band, the seven piece ensemble knew how to get toes tapping, and their traditional instruments of fiddles, whistles, bagpipes and accordion had sterling support from a full rhythm section of keyboards, guitar, bass and drums.

Skerryvore at the Lichfield Guildhall. Pic: David Jones

Skerryvore at the Lichfield Guildhall. Pic: David Jones

Their nearest touchstones as a band included the likes of Moving Hearts, Runrig, and Wolfstone, and they blended flawless musical technique with an accessibility to the groove and an infectious sense of enthusiasm.

The group – vocalist, mandolinist and guitarist Alec Dalglish, Daniel Gillespie on accordion, his brother Martin on bagpipes and whistles, Craig Espie on fiddle, Fraser West on drums and percussion, bassist Jodie Bremaneson, and Alan Scobie on keyboards and percussion – played a set that ranged from acoustic ballads to cajun and folk, through to full on sonic assaults of jigs and reels. They even found time for a couple of unexpected cover versions.

Walk With You married a cajun beat to some fine accordion, while Can You Hear Us? was a folk rock song.

The Last Time was an angry protest song, about both politicians and their first manager, before Moonraker showcased a catchy instrumental. They brought the pace down with the acoustic ballad Blown Away – a showcase for the powerfully gruff vocals of Alec Dalglish.

The first cover version of the night was Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is, which included a fine piano solo from Alan Scobie and helped to push the lyrical quality of the song to the front.

The second half included displays of funk and disco, while the fiddle playing prowess of Craig Espie was shown to particularly good effect during the closing The Angry Fiddler.

On The Road was a fine rock song, with something of Bruce Springsteen’s sound to it, before the instrumental The Showman showed the band’s ability to move through the dynamic range.

The Lucky Ones was a number full of optimism, as was Happy to be Home. Can’t Find The Cure was a showcase for the funk guitar and bass sounds, while a joyful cover of Runrig’s Rocket to the Moon was very well received by the audience.

The obligatory encore of Path to Home was a fine way for this concert to end and shows that musicianship, a crowd pleasing sound and stage craft will always be well received.