Review: Tannahill Weavers, Victoria Park House Hotel

Tannahill Weavers
Tannahill Weavers
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The Tannahill Weavers have been an integral part of the fabric of the Scottish traditional folk music scene for over forty years and tonight’s performance at the Leith Folk Club showed exactly how they have managed to maintain their popularity for so long.


The Leith Folk Club has recently moved to its new home in the Victoria Park House Hotel and the new venue provides a comfortable setting for the gig tonight. The award winning club meets here every Tuesday night and has a strong line-up in the coming weeks.

But few acts can have been more eagerly anticipated than The Tannahill Weavers. With seventeen albums and many successful international tours under their belts it would be fair to call them legends in folk music circles.

Formed in Paisley, and named for the town’s famous poet Robert Tannahill, it would be easy to dismiss them as just another dyed-in-the-wool Scottish traditional folk band. However, what sets them apart is the innovative use of Highland bagpipes as an integral part of their melodies. In the wrong hands this could be an unlistenable dirge, but played by Colin Melville, the instrument is transformed to produce a bright, clear sound.

The band are led by founding member Roy Gullane on vocals and guitar, and he is joined on stage by co-founder Phil Smillie who drives the performance forward with both his flute and with the thunderous beat of his bodhran. Complimented by John Martin on the fiddle, they produce a much larger, more energetic sound than you would expect from a typical folk group.

Throughout the evening we are treated to enough high tempo jigs and reels to ensure that no foot in the room is left untapped, and Gullane is quick to entertain us with some amusing yarns between songs. But it’s when the band slow things down for gentle ballads such as Jamie Raeburn’s Lament that they really show what versatile, talented musicians they are.

Even after all this time, The Tannahill Weavers remain at the top of their game and will hopefully continue to weave their magic for many years to come.