THE HERALD

Lúnasa/Lau, Old Fruitmarket STUART MORRISON Star rating: **** There has been some inspired programming at this year’s Celtic Connections and the pairing of two of the finest Celtic bands on the planet was a mouth-watering prospect. They did not disappoint. Lau are fiddler Aiden O’Rourke, singer/guitarist Kris Drever and accordionist Martin Green. All three are formidable players in their own right but, together, they push the boundaries of what can be achieved with these instruments. Green, in particular, squeezes sounds from the accordion that beggar belief. They previewed material from their third album, available in March. Kris Drever was in fine voice, but the highlight, to these ears at least, was Stewarts, an instrumental tune written by Green for his wife’s grandfather. “A mediocre tune for a great man,” he called it. It just served to highlight what a fantastic band this is. Lúnasa were once described as “the new gods of Irish music”. An apt description for a band named after the festival of Lugh, the ancient Celtic god of the arts. Here to promote last year’s best of collection, The Story So Far, they romped through a set of jigs and reels which had the Fruitmarket going from the off. Kevin Crawford’s flute playing was as superb as his stories were entertaining. Cillian Valley’s uillean pipes were beautiful, despite him having broken three ribs skateboarding. But the revelation was ex-Waterboy Trevor Hutchinson on electric double-bass. His partnership with guitarist Paul Meehan underpinned everything, allowing the soloists, fiddler Sean Smyth in particular, free reign. Morning Nightcap, Last Pint and Punch were highlights of a terrific set.