ALLAN MacDonald always knew that the day would come: “We have and haven’t reflected on everything – it’s been bittersweet but we knew this was coming.”

After 17 years, numerous hits and gigs at some of the best venues going, Scottish trad band Niteworks announced last year that they would be going their separate ways.

“We’ve been kind of planning this for a while and always knew there’d be an inevitable point where music – which for us has always been a hobby – kind of gets ahead of itself or real life might get in the way of us doing this to its fullest potential.”

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Speaking to the Sunday National, the musician looked back on some of his best days with the band, the importance of the Gaelic language and what he’s hoping for with his final gigs.

New single

To coincide with the final tour, the band has released one last single which they believe is the perfect choice for their swan song.

Titled An Toll Dubh, which translates from Gaelic as “the dungeon”, it also features vocals from the band’s long-time collaborators Sian.

The lyrics serve as a warning plea to wake “the Gael” and to keep Gaelic culture alive as much as possible.

“We never set out to be standard bearers or to make a broader point about this,” MacDonald explains.

“It was never a conscious point to be touching on those things, it just happened naturally and we thought it would be a nice way to kind of move on if you will.

“It’s not an explicit challenge but in a certain sense, implicitly there is something of a call for someone to take on the fight that we had kind of found ourselves with.”

New tour

Any Niteworks fans out there hoping to catch the band one last time will need to act fast, with a select few shows coming up over the next few months.

The Solas Na Maidne Tour – the Gaelic for “morning light” or “daybreak” – was chosen to symbolise the end of the band’s “night’s work”.

A full list of dates can be found HERE with the band set to play in Skye, Glasgow and Inverness as well as at the Belladrum Festival and with a date in London at the end of the year.

The National: Niteworks playing Celtic Connections in 2019. Image: Gaelle Beri

When the decision about disbanding was first announced, the band members said they could never have imagined in their “wildest dreams” where music would take them.

That being said, MacDonald believes the final gigs will have something extra special about them.

“The beauty of doing it this way is we’ve chosen very select venues and they’re places that will give us the flexibility or the freedom to do what we want with the show,” he says.

“That applies both to the gigs we’re putting on and the festival shows we’ve decided to do but for the tour in particular there will be a heavy storytelling element to the show itself so it will be a concert on steroids, if you will, with the visual part a kind of retelling of us as a band and what we’ve done over the years.

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“For sure, it’s going to be quite the moment for us at least.”

Standout moment

After 17 years, it’s understandable that MacDonald pauses for thought when asked if there’s any standout moments down the years.

There’s still a couple which spring to mind though as he admits the band have had some “decent highlights”.

“Selling out the Barrowland Ballroom the first time we played there is up there. So is doing the music for the fireworks display in Edinburgh at Hogmanay.”

He adds: “One of the videos of that ended up going viral during lockdown.”

MacDonald’s attention now though is fully on the upcoming tour as the band prepare for their swan song.

“I think and hope, given what we’re putting into these final shows, the final tour will make that memory if you will.

“We’re expecting that to be the big one.”