Published: 22/06/2014 17:25 - Updated: 18/06/2014 17:42

Saw Doctors duo have a craicing time in the Highlands

Leo, Anto and friends.
Leo, Anto and friends.

USUALLY when Leo Moran and Anthony "Anto" Thistlethwaite come to the Highlands, they visit with the rest of Irish band The Saw Doctors.

However, with The Saw Doctors taking a break, the pairing of Irish singer and songwriter Moran and English saxophonist Thistlethwaite — a founding member of The Waterboys who as also played for artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Chris De Burgh — are heading across the water on their own.

The tour will take in Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides, as well as an extensive mainland tour that also takes in dates in Aviemore and Inverness.

"We’ve always had great friends up in the Highlands and we’ll be driving ourselves around so we’ll see a bit more of the country," Moran said.

"With only the two of us, we’re very mobile and it’s easy to get places. It’s more challenging, but also more interesting because you can go off the main road if you find something interesting on the way to the gig.

"In some ways touring with The Saw Doctors was very easy because it was a big show, very well rehearsed and seasoned. This show is all new and because it’s just the two of us, it’s quite intense. There’s no let up from start to finish."

However, the idea of a two man tour did not occur to Moran until The Saw Doctors decided to take a sabbatical.

"We just had to figure a different way of getting out to people. It was either this or apply for a job in the bank," he joked.

Saw Doctors fans can rest assured that some band favourites will make it into the set, but there will also be some of Moran’s songs which have not been taken up by the band.

"They didn’t make The Saw Doctors’ list, but they work in this situation for me because they are more my songs," Moran said.

"It’s great for me to be able to go through my own back catalogue and resurrect a few old friends.

"It’s quite a varied show. We tell a load of stories, we listen to all the heckles and we meet everybody. We might even try a couple of requests. People take a lot of trouble to come into this room with us for a couple of hours and that’s our responsibility to make it worthwhile for them so whatever it takes, we’ll be doing it."

As for The Saw Doctors, the band led by Moran and fellow frontman Davy Carton and still holders of the record for Ireland’s biggest selling single (1990’s I Useta Lover), plans remain on hold at the moment.

"We’re taking a year off and we’ll meet up after April," Moran said.

"People ask if we are going to keep going and we just don’t know ourselves."

Whatever happens though, Moran promises the north of Scotland has not seen the last of himself and Thistlethwaite, though whether they come back just themselves or as part of the bigger band remains open. Either way Moran will enjoy the experience.

"I love both of them," Moran explained.

"Above all, I just love playing and travelling around."

• Leo Moran and Anto Thistlethwaithe’s rescheduled Highlands and Islands tour includes dates at 

The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore, on Wednesday 25th June; Mareel, Lerwick, on Thursday 26th; The Ironworks, Inverness, on Friday 27th; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye on Saturday 28th; An Lanntair, Stornoway, on Monday June 30th; and the Ceilidh Place, Ullapool, on Tuesday 1st July.

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