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Scottish traditional music's Highland hellraisers Hò-rò back at the Ironworks, Inverness with new fiddle player, new drive and new songs for two hometown hooley nights

By Kyle Walker

INVERNESS traditional stars Hò-rò’s November concerts at the Ironworks have become events one can set their calendar by.

Having only began in 2017, last year’s concert saw the young group sell out weeks in advance, city punters flocking in droves for a Highland Hò-rò hooley.

Any worries that people might miss out on the band this year is lessened however, as the band have doubled up the shows for two nights at the Inverness venue.

“We’ve been looking forward to it since the last show that we did there,” guitarist Sean Cousins explained. “As soon as we got off stage we were like, ‘Right, we need to do this again!’

“But then we were talking with Caroline at the venue, and she suggested to us, ‘Why don’t you do two nights? You could do two nights easily.’ And I was like, ‘Really?!’

“So we did, we booked both nights in, in the hope that we would be able to do the both nights if the first night was selling well. And the tickets were going like crazy so...yeah! It’s quite exciting and a little bit unbelievable, it’s great.”

Two nights headlining at your hometown’s biggest venue would be a huge achievement for any band – and a huge task too.

And Sean is honest about how they’re feeling about it. “I think we’re all a little bit...nervous,” he says, frankly. “Just because, we all get nervous anyway,

“I think people probably assume that if you’re doing these kinds of shows all the time that you get used to it and it’s totally fine every time. There are still nerves floating around for every show, just because you don’t know who you’re playing in front of and you’re hoping that you don’t mess up.”

And there is another reason for Hò-rò to have the pre-gig jitters – it’s not just the amount of shows they’re doing that’s changed. “We changed our lineup at the start of the year. We brought in a new fiddle player and we took a slightly different direction with our songs.

“So it’s kind of new material to kind of bring to our audience, and that’s always a bit daunting so yeah. We’re hoping that it goes down well – so yeah, a little nervous, but really excited at the same time.”

The line up change saw Hannah Macrae take over the fiddle from Lucy Doogan, who left the band at the start of 2019 to follow a personal dream of her’s by going travelling.

And while the band missed her and wished her well, Sean was happy to announced that there would be one special appearance with Hò-rò this weekend.

“You can put this down, we haven’t announced this year, but Lucy’s back from her travels, and we’ve invited her to come and do a special appearance as well!” Sean revealed. “We’re having a little bit of a reunion just for one night only! So yeah, she’s up for that – we’re really, really excited about that!”

Hò-rò play the Ironworks on two nights – Friday and Saturday. Friday night features support from Cuig and Project Smok, while Saturday features Trail West and Michael Cassidy. For full details, go to www.musichoro.com

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