I'm a mutt, but I've always felt more closely connected to my Celtic roots, than any of the other nationalities that pop up on my pedigree. There's something comforting about the food, the music, the humor, and even the weather (yup, I'm one of those people who can be happy because it's raining.) I've never been the type of person to collect relatives, probably because a great majority of my relatives would be average bordering on disappointing, but I've always liked the idea that I have some genetic connections to Ireland and Scotland.
On Friday night, I drove with a good friend to Northampton for an Enter the Haggis concert. Between a frustrating combination of unhappy weather and windy back-roads, we reached our destination about an hour later than planned, and missed the first half of the concert. With some helpful directions, we boogied over to Pearl Street and happened to stumble into the venue during the halfway mark, when ETH themselves were taking a well-deserved break. The lights were low and the room large, but if you scanned excitedly you could see the Haggis heads in their personalized kilts with beers in hand. It's a cult following that left me a little bemused. Yes, Enter the Haggis is an extremely talented band that succeeds in blending world music in ways that few other bands can; but, I can't see myself driving across the country to see any band (maybe Hendrix, if he were resurrected.) Mind you, all of this went through my head before the boys started playing their addictive tunes.
It isn't often that a band can pull you in with their first song in a set, but the energy of ETH and their audience was so tangible and almost galvanizing that I found myself dancing before I knew what had taken hold. A great performance can create connections between people who have never set eyes on each other, and Enter the Haggis absolutely succeeded in this endeavor, but what was especially enchanting about their performance was that they seemed genuinely "chuffed" (to borrow my friend's word) that their audience was so united by the music and the spirit of celebration. Far from being jaded by their success and the loyalty of their die-hard fans, ETH gets just as excited by their music as anyone else, and their enthusiasm brings their music to new heights.
The set-list was almost unimportant when every song was so well-played, but the encore of "Down With the Ship" and "Gasoline" was potent and left the night charged with and not drained of energy. In high spirits, my friend and I exited the venue and walked out into the rain. As we walked down Pearl Street, my friend expressed some regret at missing the first half of the show. "The second half was awesome", I said, and to my slight surprise a fellow concert-goer chimed into our conversation with "The second half was awesome". I guess that spell that ETH casts over their audience isn't magically dissipated at the door. The bond of an Enter the Haggis show lasts for awhile, and I wouldn't want it any other way.