Le Vent du Nord at Celtic Connections

We have a new system this year in French at Stirling that allows students to take advantage of ‘French freebies’ in order to attend French-related cultural events in Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh or beyond. The first student to benefit from this project is Laura MacFarlane, currently in her final year of a degree in French and Spanish, who went along to a concert by Quebec band Le Vent du Nord as part of Glasgow’s annual Celtic Connections festival. Here’s Laura’s review:

“It was a cold, wintery night and the ground was covered in snow and ice, but that didn’t stop the audience from gathering at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow to see the spectacle that was ‘Misses et Messieurs’.

The concert was part of Celtic Connections, headlined by the Québécois folk group, Le Vent du Nord. They play traditional music from Québec as well as songs they have composed themselves, in a similar style. The group were to be in good company, joined by female folk musicians including Emily Smith, Sharon Shannon and Julie Fowlis.

As we waited for the show to commence, I sensed the audience growing impatient, and admittedly so was I. It was half an hour after the starting time before Le Vent du Nord appeared on the stage, and by this point I was really hoping that it would be worth the wait.

2015 Le Vent du Nord pic

When they began to play, I noticed that their music resembled that of Scottish and Irish folk groups. However, there was a definite originality, not just because of the lyrics in the French language. With a mix of instruments ranging from foot-tapping to hurdy-gurdy, they recreated a traditional sound with a modern twist, and this was set off by the accompanying string quartet.

The tunes played by the ‘Messieurs’ throughout the show were well chosen with some of my favourites being ‘Le Cœur de ma Mère’, ‘Noces Tragiques’ and ‘La Soirée du Hockey’. There was also some beautiful singing from the ‘Misses’ in Gaelic and English, as well as in French. Some step-dancing was added in for good measure.

Le Vent du Nord put a lot of effort into their performance which was colourful and full of energy. Their comedic expressions and funny anecdotes between songs contrasted with the moving moments in more sombre songs. There were some powerful harmonies from the group when they sang a capella and they packed just as much of a punch when they played instruments only.

The concert was a sure success despite the late start, and what sticks in my head is the lively spirit of the group and the professionalism of their playing. The audience clearly enjoyed it, and by the end everyone was dancing, and some were jumping up and down. I thoroughly enjoyed it too and recommend to go and see them if you have the chance.”

With thanks to Laura for this review, expect more accounts of French freebies over the months ahead…