THE BLAZERS have had the equivalent of a retune, far from the first in the band’s career, but it seems pretty much business as usual for the fiddle ambassadors.
Eden Court is pretty much a home gig for a band created to showcase the fiddle styles of the Highlands and Islands at the Highland Festival, and that holds even more true now with the addition of Rua Macmillan from along the road in Nairn, though the recruitment of Orkney’s Kristan Harvey now makes the Blazers possibly the most gender-balanced band on the Scottish folk scene. Changed days indeed from the early days when Shetlander Catriona MacDonald was outnumbered six-to-one.
The departure of west coasters Allan Henderson and Iain MacFarlane leaves Bruce MacGregor as the last remaining member of the original line-up, but it looks as though any gap has been more than capably filled, MacGregor taking great delight in pointing out that as far as he was aware, Blazin’ Fiddles is the only band with three BBC Radio Scotland Young Tradional Musican of The Year Award winners not that Macmillan and Harvey have joined guitarist and occasional fiddler Anna Massie on the payroll.
Slightly confusingly, the current tour is to promote latest album Six, which featured Henderson and MacFarlane, but not the newer members.
Still, there were plenty of hints of what the newcomers will bring to the band. Away from the energetic four fiddle sets that had the players panting for breath and MacGregor and Macmillan in particular bobbing up and down like pistons, solo and duo numbers took the foot off the accelerator and allowed the band members to showcase their softer side, Macmillan’s original tunes bringing a bright modern feel to the band and Harvey’s nodding to her Orcadian upbringing and complementing the Shetland influence brought to the band by Jenna Reid.
Music is not the only element of a Blazin’ Fiddles live gig though, and if Macmillan and Harvey were not quite subjected to the good-natured abuse Henderson and MacFarlane had to put up with, it is surely only a matter of time.
In fact, it was Rua Macmillan’s mum who seemed to be the but of most humour, her son taking the evening into surreal territory when he told the tale about his mother’s unusual pet as he introduced his tune Henry the Lobster.
"And you thought the stories were finished with Allan and Iain," he warned.
Not with Anna Massie there to tell a dryly hilarious tale too, but it turned out that MacFarlane at least was not completely done with the Blazers.
He popped up as a surprise guest in the second half, admitting that watching his own band perform without him felt like jinking school.
If this was to be his final Blazers show — one he could not let pass without a typically cheeky tale of his own — MacFarlane can rest easy knowing the torch has been passed on to some very capable hands.