How do you take your folk music? Nostalgic, with a whisky, or anarchic, with Irn-bru? Fiddlers on the Ramp are double-distilled Irn-bru, and have cooked up a mighty boosh of a show that catapults the crowd through an hour of frantic jeopardy and outstanding original music.
The show feels as though the Odyssey has been compacted down to fit inside a party popper. There is an urbane narrator at hand to help us keep up with events – he promises a ‘tale of desperation’ – as this unabashed band of buskers quest onwards in search of adventure and an audience. It’s Tolkein, but with nut-allergies. There will be inflatable islands, with deadly inflatable predators…
This might just be a string of gags and an engagingly daft show, were it not all an excuse for ensemble musicianship of breath-taking quality, and bracing iconoclasm. In their hands, what might for an instant sound like a Scottish folk tune slows down, speeds up, and morphs into Jaws… then oozes into calypso and close harmony singing before coming out as their own brand of left-field cool. The combo of double fiddle, double cello, mandolin, banjo and guitar makes for a wonderfully rich acoustic ground from which they can blast off broadsides of superfast fiddle. And, at the centre of it all, Rob Taylor turns like a dervish, the musical runs spilling from his fingers in lashings of liquid gold.
This is not the spectacle of musicians accompanying a play. This is musicians being the play. It’s an intravenous shot of exuberance laced with intoxicating virtuosity. It’s the future of folk in psychedelic colours.
Give your back teeth for a ticket.