LIVE REVIEW | Breabach | The Greystones Sheffield | 26/10/17

A strong intro wrought in by very loud bagpipes and a surprisingly loud double bass accompaniment welcomed one of Scotland’s most beloved folk tune bands back to Sheffield, with the rest of the instruments providing a quieter accompaniment in both the melody and rhythm sections. Breabach [7] really got the show going from the off, and they powered through their first few pieces without pause; handling instrument and time signature changes well as the guitarist took to the cajon, and the piper switched between bagpipes and flute – enabling the other instruments to be heard in the melody part when playing the latter. Three sets in, a drinking song from their “Astar” album began a nice change in the mood with some really beautiful singing, before yet another tune set brought it to a close.

By the middle of the first half, Breabach’s live show was already reminiscent of Capercaillie or Spiro in the delivery of slower female-fronted Celtic ballads interspersed with livelier tune sets dominated by flutes, whistles, and bagpipes. It got a lot more interesting when one of the whistle players brought out a bouzouki for a few pieces. It also took quite a while for Breabach to begin introducing their music instead of just launching into it, but once they did start the stories they told were both interesting and humorous.

Breabach were slightly late in returning to the stage after the interval, but the audience was warmly greeted by a smooth anti-globalisation story about “our local shop, you might have heard of it – Morrisons”; as well as some more local references to Thornbridge ales. The rapport with the audience continued to grow, appreciative as ever; especially as the bagpipes suddenly jumped back into the foreground to bring a slower set of jigs and reels to a faster climax. The second half did progress mostly similar to the first half though; that is, until the double bassist began drumming on his instrument, to murmurs of appreciation from the crowd. There were also segments of traditional dancing from the band, which were entertaining to watch.

Musically, the show was top notch, with beautiful singing through the ballads (especially from Megan Henderson) and fantastic musicianship through the instrumental pieces. It could have used a bit more variation though. The audience clapped along until the end though, as Breabach sped up to a particularly fun finish. The bagpipes still drowned out the other instruments whenever they made an appearance though, especially when there were two pipers playing simultaneously. Overall, Breabach did a good job, and they put on an entertaining show with a great atmosphere.


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