The packed audiences in the Strathclyde suite at Celtic Connections 2024 were treated to the sparkling bagpipes and music of Finlay MacDonald, José Manuel Tejedor and Ali Levack over the weekend of January 27 and 28.

The Saturday evening concert began with the captivating sound from the Asturian gaita of José Manuel Tejedor, before the Finlay MacDonald Band enthralled and entertained the crowd with high-energy sets of tunes. Finlay’s Highland pipes and whistles were joined by Ailis Sutherland on Highland pipes/flute, Ali Hutton on guitar, Paul Jennings on percussion, and by Chris Stout on fiddle towards the latter part of the set. The musicians were obviously enjoying themselves with the extended, up tempo sets and the feel-good factor and excitement transferred to the audience. There were also a few chilled, sublime moments such as the rendition of the iconic Elliott’s, written by Finlay for his son, and when José Manuel Tejedor joined the band for the glorious Añada pa Gael.

•Finlay MacDonald and Ailis Sutherland.
•Finlay MacDonald.
Ailis Sutherland.
•José Manuel Tejedor.
•Ali Hutton, Finlay MacDonald, Ailis Sutherland, Chris Stout and Paul Jennings.
•Finlay MacDonald.
•Ali Hutton, Finlay MacDonald, Ailis Sutherland, Chris Stout and Paul Jennings.

Less than 24 hours after the Finlay MacDonald Band, Ali Levack had a 1pm start on Sunday afternoon for his New Voices concert in the same venue. His blistering whistle playing and Highland piping were a thrill, and his charming patter between the sets had the audience in the palm of his hand. For his encore, he had the audience belting out his self-penned, good fun but cheesy, country song… the picture tells a thousand words.

Celtic Connections is surely in a good place if it can pack out the same venue twice in less than 24 hours with two trad music performances that were driven by Highland pipes, whistles, fiddles, etc. Hopefully it is a sign the wider traditional music scene is in good health and flourishing.

All photos: JohnSlavin @designfolk.com / Bagpipe.news