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Francois & The Atlas Mountains and Kid Canaveral – The Arches, Glasgow, 30th January 2015

Photo by David Simpson
Photos by David Grant Simpson

Adding a fabulous twist to the Celtic Connections line-up and programme this year were the magnificent Francois and the Atlas Mountains, hailing from France bar Fifer Gerard Black, is accompanied by the overtly enthusiastic Djiga Boubacar, on ngoni and Sanou Darra on balaphon, a couple of special West African musical greats. Kicking the whole show off were Edinburgh indie dancers, Kid Canaveral, Lost Map Records’ strongholds, with their well-composed pop songs and jovial performance.

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Photo by David Grant Simpson

Catching the tail end of Kid Canaveral’s set A Compromise was an enjoyably palpable way to prepare for the Atlas Mountains and Francois hitting the stage. Enthralled in anticipation with the set that was awaiting us, there was a sense of carnival in this renowned Glasgow venue before the band even hit the stage. Walking past the elusive Francois in the corridors of the Arches, anticipation was only heightened further, basking in the knowledge that they would be playing collaboratively a delicious, gourmet setlist. Juxtaposing one song smoothly into the next, the concert was an epic medley of wonderful percussion that had all fans and enthusiasts more than toe-tapping. Fancy Foresight, Piscine, Way to the Forest, Be Water, Ayan File, Les Plus Beaux all epically lengthy with significantly notable percussion interludes where the African musicians kicked in and collaborated, adding to the whole vibe of Celtic Connections. The Arches, the suitably underground venue, was the ideal spot for a room besieged by percussion artists.

With a wonderfully jubilant scene on stage, we bore witness to their choreographed dance moves and Amaury Ranger’s buoyant energy, which never fails to astound me, without any dilution. Not just that; but their track lengths extend their recordings further immersing themselves into both newer and older tracks from their back catalogue of records. Beginning the set with the playful Fancy Foresight, enlivening the crowd, movement ruminating within the venue, their audience is set alight with a shared smile, disparaging at standing static for this show; there was no shortage of dancing.

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Photo by David Grant Simpson

Singles like La Vérité and Way to the Forest were anticipated and infused the spirit of the crowd, inspired and influenced by the wonderful effort on stage. The contagious effect of watching such energetic, bopping artists amuse themselves whilst playing to the Glasgow Celtic Connections audience, meant that we had consumed and absorbed this energy, floating to the fans.

Tentatively the collaborators joined the band on stage for tracks such as Piscine, Be Water and their more recent singles Ayan Fille and Jeans. These African fellas injected oomph and more into the band and there were no a shortage of smiles on and off the stage. Moving almost too smoothly from Talalbadro into Be Water, the transition was technically perfect, flawless even down to the timing of their dance moves. Boubacar and Darra encouraged a similar positive energy to the band, emitting wide, wholesome beams into the crowd.

Concluding the performance with Les Plus Beaux and then finally Volcan the party nicely folded, Glasgow’s scene reluctantly calming their feet to a shuffle and a smile as they left this magnificent Celtic Connections gig. Delightfully helping to bring this music festival of cultural fusion to a close for another year, this Francois and the Atlas Mountains’ gig was undoubtedly richer than the last via this fusion.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.