Credit_ Peat and Diesel, CC BY-SA 4.0 _https___creativecommons.org_licenses_by-sa_4.0_, via Wikimedia Commons

Celtic Connections 2023: Peat and Diesel

By Grace Edward

Grace reviews and speaks to audience members attending the Saturday night headliners Peat and Diesel.

Almost anything goes at Celtic Connections (as long as it is tied to Scotland), and the band Peat & Diesel are no exception to this rule. They performed at the prestigious Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 21 January, to a sold-out crowd. 

Peat & Diesel are a three-man band, composed of accordion player Innes Scott, drummer Uilly Macleod, and guitarist/vocalist Calum MacLeod, all of whom were born and bred in Stornoway. They first began touring around local areas, eventually hitting the jackpot at what many consider was their first professional starting point: their sold-out Glasgow Barrowlands concert. This success was swiftly followed by their first debut tour in January 2020 after the release of their second album: Light My Byre. Their authentic Scottish style mixes with modern rock, switching between Gaelic and nearly audible English, and it has gained them a mass following on platforms such as Spotify, with 43,477 monthly listeners.

During the breaks between songs (which allowed Calum to crack open another Tennent’s) I asked some audience members how they came to know Peat & Diesel. The response was one of enthusiasm – two friends from Orkney said that “we first saw them with another friend at the Barrowlands concert about three years ago and it was fantastic”, while another exclaimed: “This is the 3rd time I have seen them. My family are from North Uist, so I heard about them through my family and eventually went to see them at the EDF (Eilean Dorcha Festival) and loved them.” The audience was a varied mix of avid fans and new listeners, with an age range stretching from teenagers to students to families and adults. One person said that “This is my first time seeing them. I’ve been to Celtic Connections before, and I didn’t want to be bored on Saturday night, so I saw them through the website and thought, why not?” I asked the same person whether they enjoyed the concert at the end, and they expressed that they had “loved it: the music, the atmosphere, everything. I will definitely want to see them again.” 

The night itself began at 7.30pm with the support band Moonlight Benjamin, whose main singer originates from Haiti but lives in France. She sang in French as well as Haitian Creole, so kept with the theme of Peat and Diesel merging traditional music in native dialects with modern rock. Moonlight Benjamin stayed on until 8.10pm, where there was a short interval, many drinks were bought, along with limited edition merchandise. At 8.35pm, Peat and Diesel jumped on stage to the mass excitement of the audience. They kicked the night off with Horo Gheallaidh, followed by Stornoway. To introduce the third song of the night, Innes Scott proclaimed: “We’re going from a song I forgot to a song I don’t really know”. This turned out to be Co Leig A-machu Thu.

The night progressed with as much excitement and energy as the start, and after Brandy in the Airidh Innis Scott stated: “We’ll do one I remember this time, although this song means nothing at all” (this was Pirates of the Hebrides). They continued the set with Heorna Mhór and Dirty Old Town, before finishing with Co-Dhiu Dot Com. The band then thanked the audience and quickly exited the stage, whereupon the audience started to repeatedly chant the phrase “one more tune.” This appeared to work, and the band came back on to play the fan favourites of Island, Western Iles and Country Boy. Eventually, after much praise, the band left for the final time, finishing at around 10.15pm. The audience flooded out of the main doors onto the streets of Glasgow with many still singing arm in arm. It was an all-round great night, and, in my opinion, Peat & Diesel’s performance can definitely be considered one of the top highlights of Celtic Connections 2023.


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