Glasgow-based Wildings have their roots in Orkney, Skye and Northumberland, and have been playing together for over six years. At Celtic Connections on Sunday night the trio opened the proceedings ahead of Twelfth Day (reviewed here) at St Andrew’s in the Square. Their musical style is fresh, charismatic and, as you’d expect from a trio of this calibre, impressively skilful.
It’s hardly surprising then that Wildings slipped into their opening set of jigs with such consummate ease. An instantly sparkling set that charmed the audience from the outset, and was a testament to the creative relationship enjoyed by this trio.
Ghost/Scottische enjoyed a quiet hint of Scandanavia, the warmth of Jennifer Austin‘s piano, however, soon offset the northern chill. As well as providing keyboards for Wildings, Jenn, from Skye, can also be found touring with singer/songwriter Rachel Sermanni, and as a member of up and coming quartet, Fara (see review of Cross the Line). A build in tempo saw flautist/vocalist Sarah Hayes take to her alto flute, an instrument who’s size makes it seem unwieldy initially, but once in Sarah’s capable hands is as graceful as its rich sound. In addition to her outstanding 2015 solo project, Woven (reviewed here), Sarah is also a founder member of acclaimed Glasgow band Admiral Fallow and of classical chamber ensemble, Glasgow New Music Expedition.
Fiddler Fiona MacAskill, in addition to playing in a duet with Gillian Frame, also joined Sarah Hayes on Woven. Fiona displayed an undoubted fondness for Irish fiddle music, though, as she relayed the story of a tune learned from Irish fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes through an open window (it’s a long story). Paired expertly with a Nollaig Casey melody; the transition between the two tunes a hand-over from fiddle to the flute that could only be described as poetic.
Wildings would be letting us down if they didn’t make the most of Sarah’s light vocal, and for The Beggar Man we were treated to just that. Not only Sarah’s delicately lilting voice but contrasting drama from Fiona’s fiddle.
To close, Wildings played a suite of six, short pieces commissioned by the National Gallery of Scotland. The Bellany Suite, is a fifteen-minute instrumental work inspired by six of John Bellany’s paintings and their links to the sea. Enjoying a wide range of moods and atmospheres the piece succeeds in building an absorbing bridge between the worlds of traditional and classical music.
St Andrews in the Square is an appealing venue with a genuinely warm welcome. Perfectly suited, then for a delightful set that earned a justifiably enthusiastic reception. Catch Wildings live when you can, you’ll be glad you did.
Their self-titled debut album is available via Bandcamp: wildings.bandcamp.com
Although we have no footage to share from the night, below are some great videos captured by Mike Guest who also took the main image of the band.