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101 f


Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis, as it dawns they have to frantically fill the space while techies evict gremlins from the premises. Indeed Radcliffe, the old pro, does a brilliant job filling in the time fend- ing off requests to sing and prattling on about nothing… all that time on the Radio 1 breakfast show with Mark and Lard did- n’t go to waste.


Unperturbed by the delay, Lankum are brilliant. Radie Peat perches on the floor wailing the traveler’s lament What Will We Do If We Have No Money? with shud- dering passion over a shorn Ian Lynch’s pipe drone, before they segue into the delectable Townie Polka. They really are the greatest band ever since the last great- est band ever and it only seems right and proper, at this point, that we should just give them all the other awards right now – including Best Haircut (though Horizon nominee Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne is a close second) – drink cocktails ’til dawn and dance ’til our heads drop off.


As it happens, Lankum win two of the three awards for which they are nominat- ed – best original track for The Granite Gaze and best group (Between The Earth & The Sky misses out on best album) and, quite rightly, look jolly pleased about it. “I’ve never even won a raffle before,” says a beaming Radie Peat.


Catriona McKay and Chris Stout aren’t in the building to receive their best duo award, but Loudon Temple has brought a note to say they are playing a gig in Edin- burgh and collects the bootie from Rab Noakes on their behalf; and the tall, lean figure of concertina virtuoso Mohsen Amini reappears looking a tad more disheveled than he was a bit earlier with Imar to be unexpectedly crowned musician of the year ahead of more familiar figures like Martin Simpson, Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey.


Then again, maybe it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. Mohsen was here last year (well, not here, but London) nominated for the exact same award (los- ing out to Rachel Newton) while also nom- inated with Talisk for the Horizon award (which went to Daoiri Farrell) and has already picked up numerous awards in Scotland; so in many ways he’d be the form choice. Yet the affable Mohsen cer- tainly looks shocked, hugging Julie Fowlis within an inch of her life while talking expansively of “lifelong dreams”.


Returning (almost) home after many years in Devon, Cara Dillon sings The Leaving Song, full of poignant resonances to this vicinity’s long history of emigra- tion and then announces – in commemo- ration of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement – that she’ll sing a verse of Tommy Sands’ heart-stabbing classic There Were Roses. A shame time couldn’t be found for the rest of it, but the point is very saliently made. Borders? Stuff, your borders.


The song’s author later makes his own appearance, presenting the Armagh Pipers Club with the Good Tradition Award… “When words fail, music takes over and speaks,” he says, talking movingly of the impact the club has made on the commu- nity in Ulster in its 52-year history. Those of


The cast of The Young Ones reform to… oh no, it’s Lankum getting one of their pair of awards.


us anticipating their closing set would be a giant hooley of massed pipers are doomed to disappointment, however. A harp, fid- dle, whistle, concertina all showcased on a beautiful tune set to illustrate the club is for all musicians, not just pipers, before the piping duo get stuck into a tasty reel. Very nice, but a big, closing hooley, it isn’t.


around the place as Mr Van Morrison ambles on stage in cap and shades (much cooler than the overcoat and muffler he’s inclined to wear on hot days). He squints at the autocue for a few moments before deciding to abandon it all together and says something along the lines of “Donal Lunny… he’s been in a few bands… Mov- ing Hearts was one of them… I played with Moving Hearts… here’s yer award… you might as well come and get it.” Oh, if only more gong-givers were as succinct.


Y


et irrefutably the big moment comes with Donal Lunny’s life- time achievement award and the entrance of The Man. A hum of anticipation rumbles


Donal is instantly into nostalgic reverie, recalling Father Flanagan and Brother Morris as well as most of the tra- ditional musicians who ever set foot in Ireland. “I feel I’m accepting this award on behalf of all the people I’ve worked with… ” And he starts to name them all. We could be here for a while. Never a front man, of course, Donal then dons a bouzouki to play a couple of tunes with fiddle artisan Zoe Conway and disap- pears with Van for, doubtless, a nice mug of cocoa and endless chuckles about high jinks with Moving Hearts.


And then up steps another Irish icon,


Finbar Furey, not a man to shun the oppor- tunity to address the nation at length, especially with a new album out. A hugely entertaining man to share a (great many) pints with, but you can see the organisers checking their watches and holding their collective breath. He’s here to present Lankum with their best group award but, with a brief reflection on the McPeake family and the early days, is unexpectedly


Eliza Carthy gives the international “I don’t care if I didn’t win anything” signal.


Photo: © BBC


Photo: © BBC


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