Capercaillie at Chichester Festival Theatre, 13.02.11

It was something of a relief to go to Chichester yesterday, as I was in serious need of a break from work. Ariana came down from Cambridge to Brighton and the three of us went to Chichester in the evening to meet my parents at the Festival Theatre. This had been planned for some months and it had been about three years since I had last seen Capercaillie, also at the Festival Theatre.

Ariana was excited that the guys opening for the band were from Canada, fiddler Richard Wood and guitarist Gordon Belsher, and the showmanship was spectacular. Richard came down to the stage from the top of the seating area and it was, Ariana assured me, just like a ‘kitchen party’ where everyone descends on someone’s house with an instrument and they party all night. The pyrotechnics at the end were quite something, too!

They led the way for one of my all-time favourite bands, Capercaillie, from the west coast of Scotland. I have attached the set list I asked for afterwards (Mike said, ‘Here, this is Charlie’s,’ to which I replied, ‘And I’m supposed to be able to read it?’ The photo I’ve attached will illustrate the reason for my reply…!). Unable (not allowed) to bop down at the front, I must have been rattling the whole row of seats, because it’s quite impossible for me to sit still during these things. I sat, as usual, enthralled by the beauty of the music these guys make, and was chuffed to hear a new song played. I asked Mike afterwards what it was and he said even he didn’t know the title of it yet, which goes some way to explaining just how new it is.

As Karen began to sing Don’t You Go, an anti-war song from their Roses and Tears album, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. It’s a teary one, and the heartbreak in Karen’s voice just enhances the sentiment, making me well up (again). Coisich à Ruin, the only Gaelic song ever to have made the top 40, makes me go nuts, and when they began The Tree, I knew things were drawing to a close. The evening flew by, but it wasn’t over yet. As Greg drove my parents to the station, I dragged Ariana back to the stage door, where Mike had said he’d meet us and where Charlie would be. Charlie was standing outside with a beer and a rollie, so I greeted him with a bear hug and ‘How’s the world’s sexiest fiddle player?!’ which he shrugged off with endearing and honest Scottish modesty. It was so good to see them, and it’s as much of a high to talk to them afterwards as to watch them on stage, as we’ve seen them often enough that we all know each other now. I got Viv to take the photo of Ariana and me with fifty per cent of the band (Ewan was there but for some reason is not in the photo). It’s a nice shot (thanks, Viv), and from left to right includes Chimp Robertson, Ariana, Charlie McKerron, me, Karen Matheson and Michael McGoldrick. Karen looked stunning in a fabulous dress and had just had a birthday (happy birthday for Friday, Karen!). Greg came back afterwards and it was nice for us all to be there with the band.

As they began packing up the gear, I made sure I got more bear hugs from each of them (the band members not in the photo are Ewan Vernal, Che Beresford, Donald Shaw and Manus Lunny) and told them not to ‘leave it so bloody long, next time.’

Guys, thank you all so much for a fabulous evening of music and the great craic afterwards. I adore you all.

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