Home Theatre Challenge Smok’s completely joyous live performance of Scottish neo-trad music on the Hub – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Challenge Smok’s completely joyous live performance of Scottish neo-trad music on the Hub – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Challenge Smok’s completely joyous live performance of Scottish neo-trad music on the Hub – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Edinburgh Worldwide Pageant [6] – Conventional music performed by Challenge Smok: Challenge Smok (Ali Levack [piper], Ewan Baird [bodhran] and Pablo Lafuente [guitar]). The Hub, Edinburgh, 12.8.2023. (SRT)

Challenge Smok

Conventional and authentic music together with Arisaig, Wee Smoky, Struan’s, Mountain

And now for one thing utterly completely different! Final weekend I wrote in regards to the first of the Edinburgh Worldwide Pageant’s late-night periods on the Hub (overview right here), most likely nonetheless my most memorable expertise from the primary week of the EIF. They’re relaxed, accessible, and an specific try to interrupt down limitations and welcome audiences.

And that’s not only for classical music. They’ve prolonged that to different genres of music, too, together with Scottish conventional music. And the relaxed surroundings of the Hub periods appeared to swimsuit the three musicians of Challenge Smok right down to the bottom.

When most individuals consider Scottish trad, they think about a guitar and a few pipes in a highland pub, however teams like Challenge Smok have carried out an enormous quantity to increase the style’s horizons in recent times. In actual fact, they’re a part of a brand new sub-genre generally known as neo-trad. Their fundamental work as a trio may very well be recognised by anybody with even the faintest familiarity with Scottish trad, however they shoot a lightning bolt of electrical energy via the shape in order to each energise and enrich it for up to date audiences.

That’s partly due to their delicate use of electronics and amplification, however it’s principally right down to their alternative of devices. Pablo Lafuente on guitar and Ewan Baird on bodhran are the group’s basis, however the star is Ali Levack, whose virtuosity on the whistle needs to be seen (and heard) to be believed. His fingers fly throughout its holes with such velocity that the notes appear to be combating to get out abruptly, and his respiratory is so targeted that he appears by no means to must pause.

Put the three of them collectively and the impact is explosive. The sense of rhythm is what retains their music driving forwards, and there may be an evocative Celtic lilt to their melodies that’s typically bittersweet. A lot of the tunes they performed of their Hub set, nonetheless, had been quick and livid. Reels, jigs, gallops, it was inconceivable to take a seat nonetheless via them, and after some time the gang stopped making an attempt. Levack inspired the gang to stand up and dance with a suggestion of a (fictitious) prize, and by midway via the set the viewers was up and leaping within the aisles. When he picked up his pipes the room nearly actually went wild.

Their music is defiantly tuneful, relentlessly upbeat, and an utter pleasure to be part of, however that’s as a lot part of the best way they used the venue because the music in itself, and the deliberately relaxed ambiance undoubtedly helped. In actual fact, the occasion made me mirror on what job the competition has carried out in opening up the music programme to incorporate occasions like this. Not way back conventional music would have been confined to the Fringe or to a distinct time of 12 months, however throwing open the doorways of the EIF’s headquarters to a efficiency like this can be a highly effective assertion about breaking down limitations and welcoming in anyone. And who is aware of whether or not somebody in an viewers for this form of music could be tempted to attempt one thing else within the programme that they wouldn’t in any other case go close to? It’s a very long time since I’ve been a part of an viewers for music that has been so utterly, viscerally joyous. You don’t are likely to get that within the Queen’s Corridor!

Simon Thompson

The Edinburgh Worldwide Pageant runs at venues throughout the town till Sunday twenty seventh August click on right here for particulars.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here