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Phil Cunningham & Friends, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow - 20th Jan 2007
Review by Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman **** (4 Stars)

THE Old Fruitmarket clock stays perpetually frozen at 8 o'clock, but time stood still more than once during Phil Cunningham's celebration of 30 years in the music business, particularly when joined by three of his old compadres from the powerfully seminal outfit Silly Wizard.

So there he was with Martin Hadden, Gordon Jones and Andy M Stewart, singing Queen of Argyll, with the old swagger, and bringing the house down with the pace and excitement of Duncan MacGillivray, exuberance tempered, inevitably, by the sorely lamented absence of Phil's brother and Wizard fiddler, the late Johnny Cunningham.

Phil played accordion, and much else, with insouciant ease, clearly relishing this sometimes jovially chaotic evening, while a stream of former collaborators began hilariously with his long-time playing partner, fiddler Aly Bain and ended, on a sonically challenging but indubitably triumphant note, with all hands on deck plus the ScottishPower pipes and drums.

In between were the expected full-tilt sets (enlisting fiddlers John McCusker and Duncan Chisholm and piper-flautists Iain MacDonald and Michael McGoldrick, among others) and heart-warming Cunningham airs and anthems; fine singing, too, from Heidi Talbot, Fiona Kennedy and Wendy Weatherby, and perhaps most movingly from Derbyshire's John Tams, whose All I Remember - dedicated "to absent friends and fallen angels" - hit home with its hymn-like swell of voices.

Representing a new and fiery generation, Dòchas opened with a cracking set, but on this occasion, it was a night for the old boys.

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