Lau, celebrating the last gig of their 10-year anniversary tour, made it to Mareel on Saturday despite snow, ice and the last gusts of Storm Caroline.
The band comprises Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle, Kris Drever on guitar and vocals and Martin Green on accordion.
I should also give mention to “Morag” – the moniker given to the sound system, whose presence was central to the concert’s second half. More about her later!
Green thanked the audience for managing to make it into the concert in the wintry weather, joking (or perhaps not) that “you might not get home again”.
He continued to provide a lot of entertainment with his gentle and witty sense of humour throughout the rest of the concert.
The first half was an intimate experience with the threesome sharing a single microphone. There were beautiful melodies, slipping seamlessly from one player to the next.
One of the most appealing aspects of the band is how the tempo and dynamics changed without so much as a word or a nod. There seemed to be an invisible layer of communication weaving its way between the three performers.
It was mesmerising to watch, and one soon found oneself transported along on the Lau journey through space and time.
Lau continued to provide contrast as we entered the second half of the concert, which was an electrified set played on the full stage. It was at this point that we were introduced to “Morag”, complete with rainbow flag, whom Green deftly handled throughout the second half.
There was also a banner above the stage reading “We love the NHS”. While the band did not mention its presence, it did not go unnoticed by the audience. “Morag” provided bass, rhythm and an altogether other-worldly presence.
Each member of the audience was taken on their own adventure in her presence.
The electrified set contained a number of compositions written by each of the band members. O’Rourke’s Sea Set – written in An Tobar, Tobermory, featured the fluidity of his bowing style, along with beautiful melody and harmonies.
The melody moved between Drever and Green also, and there was a real sense of the ebb and flow of the tide. The piece gradually faded into the ether: for the last couple of minutes we all seemed to be floating in the big blue with an ethereal light enveloping us.
Green’s Horizontigo was written as a homage to East Anglia where he hails from. It was dedicated to a gentleman who helped him reach the concert. The music reflected the horizontal landscape of his native land.
By contrast, Drever’s Buy the Bee-keeper a Pint was a punchy number, written as an ode to the dedicated work of the beekeeper.
Drever, BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year, provided songs and lyrics of almost prophetic nature throughout the entire show. With Morag’s assistance during the second half, his voice echoed through time.
Perhaps most memorable was the song in which he described being a young sailor returning home to find that his parents were no longer alive: “My parents were ghosts – where will I go?”
The evening came to a conclusion with Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come Aa Ye. Led by Drever, and with audience participation. Green aptly summarised that the world would be a better place if we all treated each other with “a modicum of decency”.
There were thanks, as ever, to Tim Matthews for providing superb sound quality, and Gary Smith on the lighting which really heightened the sensory feast which was enjoyed by all.
Another great evening of music organised by Neil Riddell of Ragged Wood. Here’s to the next.