As Janey herself said at the end, ‘Ah’m knackert.’
This was as crammed a 90 minutes as one could wish for in celebration of Scotland’s famous poet. His global appeal was reflected in the comments box overflowing with a never-ending stream of greetings and toasts, viewers logging in from every conceivable time-zone. In this Covid-enforced YouTube version of the extravaganza – that usually takes place each year in the town of Dumfries – performances came in from far and wide. KT Tunstall beamed in a performance of ‘Everything Has Its Shape’ from Los Angeles, Donovan a rogue-ish version of ‘Sunshine Superman’ from Cork, Camille O’Sullivan’s rendition of Nick Cave’s ‘The Ship Song’ reached us from a beach near Dublin and Dervish performed ‘The Ploughman’ from a beautifully candle-lit room in Sligo.
Taking a few hours off from the day-job as Nicola Sturgeon’s interpreter, our host punctuated the acts to comic effect; her refrain of Sheena Easton’s ‘Morning Train’ will stick long in the memory. As will her brief chats with KT Tunstall and Colonel Mustard from the wifi-saturated haven of her toilet. Good of Tunstall to remind everyone about that photo on that Golf course in Ayrshire the other year.
All Burns Night traditions were observed, the Selkirk Grace was said and Craig Irving piped in the Haggis, borne upon the head of Tatty Von Haggis, who used her own slot later to pour scorn on all those refusing to believe she was the mother of Robbie B’s lovechild. There was Burns blended with folk, pop, trad and rock from Skerryvore, Tide Lines and Mànran, the latter singing in Gaelic. Dougie Maclean performed solo from Perth, visuals provided by a pair of Trapeze artists and Vicky Butterfly while Grant Dinwoodie put a riff-laden rocket up ‘A Man’s A Man’, cavorting in The Garden of Cosmic Speculation.
Burns was nothing if not romantic and we were reminded by Amy Conachan’s ‘Red Red Rose’ and Brina’s ‘Ae Fond Kiss’. 4-piece vocal group Loka weighed in with ‘The Ploughman’.
More baffling (but a lot of fun) were Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5’s ‘Ted Dancin’’ and The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain playing the The Kinks’s Ray Davies-penned ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’. Maybe the ukulele players received the invite and thought it might be their last chance to perform in a Scotland still part of Great Britain?
One way or another it had it all; charm, irreverence, romance, bawdiness and passion. Most moving was Robert Softley Gale’s ‘Tam O’Shanter’ and most funny was Ray Bradshaw’s joke about growing up with deaf parents; ‘It’s ok,’ he said, ‘until the moment you run oot o’ bog paper…’
Reviewer: Roger Jacobs
Reviewed: 25th January 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★