Enter the Haggis - May/June 2003

by Julian Mainprize

Who: Enter the Haggis
What: Alternative Celtic
Where: Toronto, ON
To Contact: Trevor Lewington, (416) 532-1722, www.enterthehaggis.com.

If you’re looking for something that will help sooth you mid-work week, stay clear of Enter The Haggis. Subtlety is definitely not a word found in this band’s vocabulary – at least not in complimentary usage. Upon seeing their name and a few song titles (Scotland the Brave/Hava Nagila, Ride My Monster) I knew this band was all about having fun. Enter The Haggis’ recorded music is pure energy and their most recent release Enter The Haggis Live is proof that their live show is equally charged.
The Toronto-based five-piece’s roots are deeply set in the Scottish/Celtic musical tradition but the band’s music also has a heavy rock influence. Haggis’ award-winning fiddler Brian Buchanan and bagpiper/penny whistler Craig Downie are responsible for bringing Canadian East Coast and Scottish musical traditions to the band first-hand. The rhythm section, guitarist Trevor Lewington, bassist Mark Abraham and drummer James “Seamus” Campbell are all schooled musicians and graduates from various Toronto music faculties. The musical result is a front-line pair of Celtic virtuosos on top of a rhythm section as tight as a vice.
What is particularly astounding about Enter The Haggis Live is the musical performance. This is a live recording by a band who, given the photos on the CD showing both sweat and kilts flying, have an exceptionally animated live show. On top of this, Celtic music is known to have a ton of energy – at least until the whisky takes its physical and emotional toll – and some pretty blistering tempos. Combine the two and you’d naturally expect some performance mistakes, like wandering tempos, and intonation problems. Not so on Enter The Haggis Live. Not only does strong musicianship not suffer from on-stage energy, but the reverse doesn’t happen either.
Enter the Haggis play a lot of festivals throughout Canada, so if you’re looking for a raucous night of all out fun – with or without whisky – definitely go check these guys out.