Review Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita St David’s Hall by James Ellis

Photo Credit: Mark Allen
 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

One of the fond memories of the brief window of live performance in 2020 was Catrin Finch with the Columbian band Cimarrón. Welsh harpist Catrin seems to hold the whole world in her hands, with a versatility in essentially any genre of music. Knowing her from classical circles, her time with Cimmarrón made for a sizzling and dazzling concert, something I haven’t forgotten in a hurry.

A duet with Seckou Keita from Senegal is another giant leap in taste and mileage. Keita, who plays the kora (a large string instrument made from a giant root vegetable) beams for most of the night, his vibrant energy on full display. Catrin, ever the wry talent, gave humour in speech and simply beautiful playing on her large harp. Together, Wales and Senegal does not seem that far apart, the break down of musical cultures dropping with a huge reverb, its sound a towering influence over the night.

I’ll confess the music here is on a more chilled level, a breezy ambience that never lets up. I found myself craving something with more of a meaty bite, though the eloquence of both players never wained. The kora is a rather subtle instrument, somewhere between a harp, guitar and the strings of a piano. They usually played in harmony, each instrument clear during these moments.

Seckou also shared insights from his country, the idea of the children’s rite of a “standing stick” was amazing. A frustrating moment came later when his mic fell and not a single technician came to assist him. Along with Catrin’s deadpan, they made quite a comedy double, as well as musical bed fellows. The unending, shameless amount of plugs to their new CD started to get absurd as the night went on.

We really should place bets for where Catrin goes globally and who she plays with next. Her journey remains quite the adventure.

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