Isles icon takes Gaelic to Glasgow

Iain 'Costello' Maciver and his band preparing for the CCA gig in Glasgow.
Iain 'Costello' Maciver and his band preparing for the CCA gig in Glasgow.

He is one the Western Isles’ best known Gaelic musicians, and curiously, Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver hasn’t toured in five years.

But the Point man has been preparing a unique set with a new band for a gig in Glasgow on September 19.

The Gaelic legend is set to hit the stage for the first time in five years at the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street.

Iain will join his long-term playing partner John Murray for what is promised to be a distinctive array of live classics and with a twist.

Maciver says he is rejuvenated by a new band, featuring Lynsey MacRitchie on fiddle and piano, and Coinneach MacLeod on drums.

Iain was born in Bayble, Point and attended the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. He is a self-taught musician, which goes towards explaining why his music carries a constant and conspicuous authenticity.

He has gained many fans over the past 40 years by both holding true to Gaelic’s traditional ethos but also bringing an accessible and vibrant element to Gaelic music, without a hint of the habitual, common-place that can pass for Gaelic music in the wide-eyed mainstream media.

Iain teamed up with John Murray to form the duo New Tradition, and then appeared on the successful television show Tuath Cheòl in the 1990s.

He has since released four solo albums, cementing his reputation as a standard bearer in the art of Gaelic traditional music.

He lists his influences as American country, making the often understated point that all country music ultimately tells the tale of the land and those who live on it.

It is in the roots of country music that Iain finds his motivation, always inspired by the rustic but unfailing landscape that best suits him as a traditional Scottish musician.

It’s an upmarket venue but Maciver is typically down to earth, pointing out that although he regards himself first-and-foremost as a musician, he now also achieves the buzz of melody and song as a respected music teacher.

Indeed, Iain has been a successful music teacher for over 20 years, and continues to lend his expertise to young and aspiring pupils.

Buoyed on by a new band, Iain looks forward to revisiting old classics but with a twist, particularly now that he has a fiddle player on-board.

But the fiddle won’t be playing its perhaps customary or even stereotypical centre-piece in the ensemble, despite Iain’s insistence that the music will be upbeat.

Rather he sees the instrument as part of the all-round collaborative effort that makes traditional Gaelic music a thoroughly egalitarian art.

“I don’t think I will tour extensively right after this gig,” says Iain, whose inimitable voice is a true example of home-grown Gaelic talent, “ but I may do some local gigs. It all depends on my availability and that of the people I play with.

“I guess when you get older, you can’t just take off on tour on a whim. But with maturity you also get the ability to see your past songs in a new light and reinterpret them with experience.”

Indeed, Maciver is set on bringing to Glasgow classics that his fans will know, but some are rearranged in a new format that is original but refreshing enough to shake familiarity.

Although the lyrics are in Gaelic, Iain says he is confident that the sentiment of the songs will be accessible to people in Glasgow who don’t know his first language.

“I think that regardless of the language, people will get the meaning of the songs because music is a language in itself, whatever language it is in.

“I want to encourage young people to take up Gaelic because it’s part of Scotland’s identity and a beautiful language to hear both in voice and in song.”

Iain ‘Costello’ Maciver will be supported by Véloniños and Mod gold medallist Darren MacLean.

Get tickets at 0141 352 4900 or