COUNTRY ROADS | Daily News
Music concert review

COUNTRY ROADS

 Isla Grant

It was a dream come true to many Sri Lankan country music lovers on Friday as the Scottish-born acclaimed songwriter and singer Isla Grant performed her debut South Asian concert in Colombo. She came on stage singing the title track of her album ‘A dream come true’ amidst a roaring applause from full house audience at the Convention Centre hall including the country’s First Lady.

ot often do Sri Lankan music fans get the live concert experiences of international celebrities. But when they are offered with, they enjoy it so lively and even the performers will bring home lasting memories. The concert has been a true testimony to the undeniable popularity of gentle, acoustic country music as the tickets were sold out many weeks before the concert. To much surprise the audience included a considerable number of foreigners along with young and old local fans from all walks of life.

Even though the concert got delayed for more than an hour due to traffic and vehicle parking problems outside the hall, the audience was very patient. Except for the big hooting sprung out from the crowd when the announcer welcomed a politician to the concert, there were only singing, cheers and laughter till the end. As Isla appeared on stage with the guitar in her arms crowd joined in clapping and singing from the very first song, bringing the sing along notion to the concert.

It was a unique performance by Isla, singing the songs she penned herself out of her personal experiences and there were much soul into them apart from the soothing music. Her brief introductions to every song made it more effective in connecting with the audience where they were taken through an emotional musical journey, savouring core feelings of her songs.

Al Grant

Isla’s song ‘Leaves in the wind’, a dedication to her late parents has been a pure expression of her experience on losing both parents when she was very small. As the Scottish mother of three sings the song she wrote for her sons, ‘Sweet baby mine’, a very popular hit in this part of the globe, brought a tear to many mothers’ eyes in the audience whose sweet babies are far away from them. Her famous hit ‘Cottage in the country’ and the song she sung for her granddaughter Juana kept the audience clapping while swaying their bodies to the rhythm.

With Isla introducing singer cum multi-instrumentalist Glen Fling, as her fourth son though not her own, he entertained the crowd with his song ‘My father’s home’, waking nostalgic feelings of good old ancestral homes. Most of these songs are based on common feelings experienced by people all over the world and proved music’s ability to unite people transcending cultural, economical and social man-made barriers.

 

In performance

The singing couple enjoyed the stage performing together and seemed to be well oriented with the audience. The duo even engaged in an interesting hilarious adult conversation on stage, bursting laughter and applause among the audience. They were so easygoing, so did their music.Al Grant, the bassist and the better half of Isla sang some ever green hits of late great gentleman Jim, starting with ‘Welcome to my world’. Al’s session has been relatively short, but had they performed a few more of his cover versions of Jim Reeves’ songs, the local audience would have been delighted. Even the four songs Al sang including the duet with Isla enticed the crowd and Al was praising the singing ability of locals as they sang along with him throughout his session.

Isla’s dedication for Al from her recent album ‘Love sick and blues’, ‘Hey sweet baby’ brought the ‘Blues’ essence to the concert and it captured the hearts of many. The concert was privileged to include Isla’s first ever live performance of her song ‘An angel’s wings’ and the song she wrote for Ireland’s iconic accordion player, Sir Jimmy Shand (James Shand) Titled ‘The old accordion man’ has been a tribute to all the old folks who have nourished folk and country music.

Presenting a live concert experience

Their genre of music has always been gentle and the duo’s crystal clear vocals were the greatest gifts they possess which speaks straight to the listeners’ hearts. Even though they were not accompanied by their full band, the multi instrumentalists Glen added the variations playing Hawaiian guitar, accordion, lead guitar and Madeline while singing harmonies to fill the gaps. But a keen listener of Isla and Al must have sensed the absence of their talented fiddler in the concert.

After the formal conclusion of the two-hour concert with the song ‘We’ll meet again my friends’, Isla appeared once again on stage with crowd asking for more. She concluded the show with ‘you always be special to me’ as a tribute to the wonderful audience. It has been an unforgettable musical treat for the local audience and organizers must be commended for offering it.