Music for a kilted generation

Peter, Tom and Innes of the Peatbog Faeries.
Peter, Tom and Innes of the Peatbog Faeries.
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Even for a dyed in the wool Sassenach, the skirl of the bagpipes can stir the soul, writes Tony Dewhurst.

It is a primeval force, and when the pipes kick in, it unifies everything when we play live,” said bassist and percussion man Innes Hutton, who brings the foot-stomping sound of the Peatbog Faeries to the Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, in a fortnight.

“It is an ancient instrument, but here we are in the 21st Century, with all these amazing electronic gizmos and gadgets, but when you hear the drone of the bagpipes then the rest of it comes alive.

“The thing is, they’re played all over the world, from Accrington to South America, and the young people who are discovering that sound for themselves have embraced that rich tradition.”

If you have never seen the Peatbog Faeries before then you are in for a treat because this is music for a kilted generation, fusing a traditional Celtic song with the beats and grooves of the urban club.

Infectious, leap-about fun and always gloriously unpredictable, these Highland warriors from the Isle of Skye conjure up a tartan mash-up of sonic sound.

Bubbling electronica, jigs, blazing fiddles, whistle solos, hip-hop, reggae and more, their all-instrumental set is a dance hall rave of Scottish song with a techno attitude.

One track, Folk Police – is The Orb meets the Jimmy Shand Band with a sprinkling of 808 State thrown in - and it works a treat.

“At every show we try and do different things and see what direction it is going in, but it is not a concerted effort to sound Latin or whatever else, but people still try and pigeon hole what we do,” added Innes.

“When the music starts - then the borders disappear.”

He added: “I was a huge heavy metal fan as a kid, and then I discovered Adrian Sherwood, the sound of Tackhead, Doug Wimbush and Keith Leblanc, and they had a massive influence on me, as did Martyn Bennett, who was a pioneer, fusing the bagpipes with dance music.

“We come from so many musical backgrounds and Tom Salter, our guitarist, has a Doctorate in African guitar music, having studied in the Congo.

“And Ross Couper, our fiddle player, started playing when he was eight years old at school in the Shetland Isles.

“In the Shetlands, they are immersed in music from a young age and that tradition is passed from father to son.

“I like to think that our music is very instinctive and constantly evolving.”

Their new album – Blackhouse – is a rip-roaring journey of irresistible Celtic beats and powerful melodies driven, of course, by the heart beat drone of the pipes.

“The Grand is one of our favourite venues, and when we played there a few years ago on St Patrick’s Day it was just as good a vibe as anything we’d done in Ireland on their big day.”

Peatbog Faeries, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, Friday, October 20th, call 01200 421599 or visit: