On 18 May, Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson returned to play at Crear, Kilberry, ending a three year absence.
The poster said “with special guests”. That word “special” proved to be particularly apt.
Karen’s pianist husband Donald Shaw was joined by New Zealander Brendan Power on harmonica. Guitarists were Love & Money’s James Grant and the much sought after Ed Boyd from Somerset. Completing the line-up, and on upright bass, was Capercaillie man (and former Deacon Blue stalwart) Ewen Vernal.
Brendan injected some seriously evocative “harp” into “Cassiopeia”, a new song by guitarist James. Later, the Kiwi’s stunning harmonica dominated a set of Irish reels whilst Donald shone on the piano; and added a bluesy dimension to James’s “There’s Always Sunday” whilst complementing Donald’s faultless accordion instrumental.
With infinite tenderness, Karen interpreted “Crucán na bPáiste” (The Burial Place of the Children), a heartrending lament laying bare a mother’s grief at the loss of her child.
The Taynuilt singer’s brilliantly articulated puirt a beul (Gaelic mouth music) closed the first half of the set.
“Calvary”, based on the late Sorley MacLean’s poem, was followed by the band’s first public performance of Darrell Scott’s “The Open Door”. Later, Karen, accompanied by Donald on harmonium, sang with feeling the insightful “Little Gun”, about their young son.
Repeatedly, vocal harmonies by James and Ewen added a finishing touch, and the teamwork of Ewen and Ed glinted with maturity.
For its final song, the band played an appropriate “The End of the Night”, but the audience would have none of it. Only days away from Dylan’s 70th birthday, Karen & Co obliged, closing with “Lay Down Your Weary Tune”.
Click here for our interview of
KAREN MATHESON & SPECIAL GUESTS, CREAR, 18 MAY 2011
Karen Matheson (Vocals)
Donald Shaw (Piano, Accordion, & Harmonium)
James Grant (Guitar & Vocals)
Brendan Power (Harmonica)
Ed Boyd (Guitar)
Ewen Vernal (Bass & Vocal)