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Three years after Celtic Connections commissioned a full orchestral version of Martyn Bennett's GRIT album for their 2015 opening gala, Greg Lawson and the Grit Orchestra were back at Celtic Connections on Saturday night, this time to celebrate Martyn's second album Bothy Culture.
The venue for this spectacular performance entitled Bothy Culture and Beyond was the 10,000 capacity Hydro Arena (Peter Gabriel had been one of the first artists to play the venue, one month after it opened in 2013), the biggest indoor venue in the city. A vast room equally matched by the show's musical and theatrical ambition.
Greg Lawson's full scale orchestral arrangements of Martyn's music captured the propulsive energy of dance music, whilst bristling with cinematic drama, visceral intensity and emotion. Add into the mix a representation of the Cuillin mountains, the aerial display skills of Aisling ní Cheallaigh and the All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre as well as Danny MacAskill (broken knee and all) and Alistair Clarkson re-imagining the epic stunt cycling from their video The Ridge (that Bennett's Blackbird soundtracked) and the effect was complete.
It is testament to Martyn's enduring legacy and continuing relevance as an artist that thousands of fans cheered the roof off the Hydro throughout the night. The strength of his music lends itself to reinterpretation and reinvention years after his death. It was a wonderful opportunity for Real World Records to work with Martyn on his final album Grit. We are sure it would make him smile if he could see what joy (and ecstatic dancing) his music engendered in a huge stadium this weekend!