August 18 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
My annual cultural safari to the Edinburgh Festival usually kicks off in early August and lasts for about five days, but this year I’ve timed my visit for the end of the month, to catch what I think is the best, and most important, band in the UK right now.
Nu-folk may be all the rage this year, with Mumford & Sons being the dinner-party soundtrack of choice for summer 2010, but the music of Drever, McCusker and Woomble is much more authentic and far more beautiful. Their album, Before the Ruin, charts as the most listened in my iTunes library, with each of the band members’ solo works coming a close second. These songs are like old, reliable, friends – much loved, easy to relax with and constantly inspiring.
The band is a Celtic supergroup and ongoing side-project for all involved: Kris Drever is an award-winning solo folk singer, John McCusker is one of the country’s most celebrated fiddle players, composers and producers, and Roddy Woomble has been the lead singer with Scottish indie band Idlewild – for my money one of the most underrated rock bands of the past 30 years – since the mid-1990s. Before the Ruin is a seductive, hypnotic and moving experience of swelling strings and literary riches. Their show, in the atmospheric Queen’s Hall, should be an evening to remember.