Review of Salsa Celitca at the Ironworks,Inverness on the 25th of March, 2012 , by Jim Kennedy. Photos by Frank Finlayson.
Salsa Celtica were back at the Inverness Ironworks as part of a short tour showing off some of the tracks from their most recent live CD and to road test some new material.
It’s a tough gig supporting a 10 piece band of world renowned multi-instrumentalists but that was Adrian Telfer’s lot tonight. Local lad, Adrian had a real go at engaging with the crowd who showed their appreciation with some warm applause. Adrian plowed his lone furrow with the help of a loop recorder which allowed him to multi-layer guitar and vocals and even add a pinch of mouth organ.
As is often the case, crowd numbers swelled when Salsa Celtica took the stage at 8.30. Quite unusually for band of Salsa Celtica’s stature, the band played down on the floor which guaranteed a close encounter for all. This must have been part of the plan as before a note was struck a rallying cry of “come closer and find some space to dance” brought the crowd right on top of them. The band spoke of their appreciation of the more intimate venue of the Ironworks as being more “rock’n’roll” than at Eden Court.
A quick head count showed 10 band members tonight – a 2 piece brass section; 3 drummer / percussionist /vocalists; and one each of piano; bass; fiddle/vocals; banjo; and pipe/bouzouki/whistle.
The opener was the almost stately Adios Adios from the live CD En Vivo En El Norte which featured the rich soulful vocals of Ricardo Fernandez Pompa. It wasn’t until the second and third tunes with faster salsa and celtic components that the crowd started to let their hair down and get into the groove themselves – roughly translated this means everything from actually pretty skilled salsa dancing through general hip sways to pas de basque to some individual gyrations. It was just impossible not to feel the music or to ignore the sheer joy of the band, who grinned like the proverbial Cheshire cats throughout the proceedings. They may be in their 16th year but they have lost none of their enthusiasm.
Next, ringing the changes was a banjo and bouzouki introduction by Eamonn Coyne and Ross Ainslie respectively before a fiddle tune stemming more from over the Irish Sea than the Atlantic bounced the set onto the next level. Just when you think it is brimming over the percussionists joined the fray taking us to on a high tempo extravaganza to whooping and clapping galore.
It would be bad manners to highlight one over the others in such a fabulous band, but hey it’s my review! Megan Henderson from Fort William, now living in Glasgow was next to feature in a few new songs – Beautiful Gaelic songs given the Salsa treatment were just spectacular and brought something new and special to the band that they maybe didn’t even know they were missing.
Other highlights… Ross Ainslie’s thunderstruck on the pipes, Sue Mackenzie’s featured soprano sax spot in 9868. Highlight followed highlight all atop an infectious cuban beat. The sublime musicianship with complete control of tempo and dynamics showed great care for their music – not for them the full scale sonic assault, apart of course when it was called for!
The fortunate crowd were treated to a top band at somewhere close to the top of their game in as up-close a setting as they are likely to find them. Salsa anyone?