Monday, 16 November 2009

Julie Fowlis

I went to see the sublime Julie Fowlis in concert at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith a few weeks ago and I have to say I was absolutely blown away. This was by far the best gig I have ever been to - better even than Rachel's at the Union Chapel. Fowlis, who sings exclusively in Scottish Gaelic, is renowned for her beautifully sweet, clear vocals and her virtuoso whistle playing, and she absolutely did not disappoint. Showcasing material off her new album "Uam" ("From Me"), together with her band she tore through a set of raucous jigs and reels - despite clearly being heavily pregnant - as well as presenting some of the saddest songs in the world. It was her only London date of the year and the venue, one of the smallest on the tour, was wonderfully intimate. Fowlis literally has the voice of an angel; the entire audience, most of whom could not understand a word she sang, were enraptured from beginning to end. The sheer quality of the musicianship on show was undeniable - the whole band had that effortless brilliance that comes from having played since they were old enough to stand, and what shone through was their sense of humour, the fact that they didn't take the music too seriously and weren't stuffy or precious about it at all. Sadly my copy of the album had not yet arrived so I wasn't able to take it along for her to sign, but I did get to meet her after the gig and try out my Gaelic on her. She was ever so nice, and my classmates were green with envy! Fowlis deserves every single bit of the praise and adulation that has been heaped upon her, not least for single-handedly raising the profile of Gaelic worldwide. Watch this short film about her new album...

...and then buy it immediately - you'll be doing yourself an enormous favour.

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