The Fergus McCreadie Trio

By Robert Neil

St Luke’s On The Square, Glasgow
Thursday 2nd March 2023

As I walked towards St Luke’s, the familiar lilac lights illuminated the windows. It was a very welcome sight, having just passed the full-on Vegas lights of The Barrowland. I was in Glasgow to attend a concert by the award-winning Fergus McCreadie Trio.

Fergus McCreadie, if you don’t already know, is one of the world’s hottest new pianists on the jazz scene, mixing contemporary jazz with traditional Scottish music. None other than jazz musician, Jamie Cullum, has been quoted as saying of the trio’s award-winning Forest Floor album: “One of my favourite jazz piano trio albums of the last few years”.

As I took to my seat, I had the chance to look around at the audience and noticed there was a good mixture of people making their entrance, from late teens to mid-eighties, and soon the venue began to fill up. The excitement was palpable, and when the trio took to the stage with glowing smiles and waves of acknowledgement, the atmosphere really started to build.

As Fergus sat down and tickled the ivories, that is when the magic began. After a short while, David Bowden complemented the radiant and intense piano, on double bass. Stephen Henderson then joined in with absolute precision on drums and small percussion.

The audience was transfixed and utterly captivated. Honestly, there was nothing but total respect for the three young men on stage and I had never witnessed such a well-mannered crowd at a live event. A special mention goes out to whoever was in charge of the sound as every note was so clear and precise, and there was a true collective feeling of warmth and serenity.

As Fergus’s hands moved freely up and down the piano keyboard, every arpeggio threw forth light, colour and texture, creating a tranquil ambiance.

After what seemed like a short while, but was in truth over 40 minutes, the trio took a brief break for us all to catch our breath and allow us to vent some excitement as to what the second half may hold.

Applause erupted once again as the trio returned to the stage. Then, as the first piano note echoed round the hall, the audience fell totally silent. We were once more on a fantastical transcendental journey.

Throughout the entire performance, no mobile phones were held aloft. There was no annoying chatter, no rustling of confectionery papers, no signs of disrespect whatsoever. This was something I hadn’t experienced in a long while and I found it so refreshing.

Before I knew it, the gig had come to an end and the room was filled with rapturous applause, cheering and beaming faces. The trio rewarded the audience with an encore resulting in a well-deserved standing ovation.

As I stepped out into the chilly night air, I came away from that old converted Church of St Luke’s having had a very spiritual and uplifting experience thanks to the power of music. I must confess, after all my years of gig going, dating back to October 1982 (The Damned – which I’m sure the average jazz fan would appreciate!) this was my first time at a jazz trio gig and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

When I got home that evening, I was inspired to do an online search to see if any footage existed of The Oscar Peterson Trio’s Easter Suite which I witnessed as a 16-year-old on Good Friday 1984 on The Southbank Show with Melvyn Bragg. It was a successful quest and for the next 40 minutes I was taken back to that night which I have never forgotten.

Interestingly, Fergus McCreadie cites Oscar Peterson as one of his influences. Once again, the power of music working its magic!

So why not look up the Fergus McCreadie Trio and check out their Mercury nominated album tour listing? And, if you get the chance, catch these three young men live – it truly was an epiphany!