Continuing their triumphant first year’s progress, having launched themselves at Celtic Connections in January, Highland outfit Mànran made their English debut with barnstorming sets on both main stages. Folk-rock has become a widely discredited sub-genre in an age of more exotic fusions, but Mànran – comprising six already established young instrumental and vocal luminaries – tackle this tricky territory boldly head-on, leavening their stomp-along power with top-drawer technical prowess and a wealth of distinctive flourishes, including English and Gaelic songs (both traditional and original), twinned Scottish and Irish bagpipes, a penchant for funk and reggae grooves and arrangements that match multi-layered richness with vivid definition.
Donald Shaw of Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow gave a ringing endorsement of the band when he said: “Mànran are an exceptionally talented bunch of young guys that are taking the music world by storm with their high energy, stomping tunes and phenomenal Gaelic/English songs.” He’s not wrong, either. Mànran, six rather decent-looking young men (!) and talented musicians, have quite literally rocketed to the top of the Scottish music scene with their powerful combination of Gaelic/English songs underpinned by driving Accordion, Fiddle, Flute and a backline of drum and bass to make any mouth water. Mànran are also the only band to host Highland and Uilleann pipes together in one line up to create a whole new sound that nothing comes close to. It was in June 2010, that it became obvious that the time had come for the six friends to get together and do their bit to keep the fresh and vital sound of modern Gaelic Scotland alive. Since then, they have already performed at festivals in Europe and Scotland; highlights being Celtica (Italy) and the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Lewis. Mànran welcomed the New Year as the live house band for the BBC Alba TV Hogmanay show, and so far this year have performed as part of Celtic Connections at the O2 ABC, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall supporting Kepa Junkera and for the Scottish First Minister and over 150 Food Delegates from all around the World, at a special performance at Edinburgh Castle. Mànran bass player Ross Saunders told radio programme The Hour earlier this year: “I think our sound is for all generations, to be honest. We’re not trying to go for a boy band factor. We just want to take it out and expose the language and just expose people to traditional music in general. That’s the most important thing.” The band’s first single in Gaelic, ‘Latha Math’ was released in January of this year, for download only. Produced by two of Scotland’s top producers, Calum Malcolm (Simple Minds, Wet Wet Wet, Runrig) and star accordion player and singer, Phil Cunningham. As it happens, it was only a taste of what was to come – this album consolidates the belief that these guys are one of Scotland’s most fascinating new musical forces.