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03 février 2007

Riffs & legends

...One way and another, there was a lot riding on Wednesday's Real World concert. Featuring artists from as far afield as Africa and central Asia, it was the most conspicuous example of the festival's expanded horizons under new artistic consultant Donald Shaw, and also the first time Peter Gabriel's celebrated record label had produced such an event in Scotland.

A near-capacity crowd was treated to a succession of outstanding performances, starting with the young Mauritanian singer-songwriter Daby Touré, whose supple, soaring vocals were framed by bracingly taut, reggae-infused guitar, bass and percussion backing.

Next up were Cuillin Music, the band who continue to promote the rich creative legacy of visionary composer and performer Martyn Bennett, who died two years ago. With Kirsten Bennett on synth/percussion, fiddlers Adam Sutherland, Greg Lawson and Martin Swan, and Ross Ainslie and Fraser Fifield on pipes and whistles, they delivered a thrilling handful of tracks from Bennett's Bothy Culture and Hardland albums, keeping the flame alive by reworking the material rather than seeking simply to replicate the originals. Then came Uzbekistani singer Sevara Nazarkhan, a pixie-like figure with a ferocious voice, matched by a dub, dance and electronica backdrop from her four-piece band.

Finally the Fruitmarket resounded to the mighty guitar virtuosity of Skip "Little Axe" McDonald, flanked by the heavy-duty rhythm team of Doug Wimbish and Keith LeBlanc (of the Sugarhill Gang) with live mixing by DJ/producer Adrian Sherwood. Drawing largely on the recent Little Axe album Stone Cold Ohio, they stirred together a dark, delicious stew of blues, gospel and soul...

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