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REVIEW: The Gloaming at National Concert Hall, Dublin

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Sunday August 28, 2011

from Thumped

The Gloaming
National Concert Hall, 20th August

By Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane caught The Gloaming’s recent performance at The National Concert Hall.

The seed for these five brilliant musicians to come together was sown, as so many things are, over a few tipples and talk; and somewhere, from initial conversations between fiddler Martin Hayes and sean nós singer, Iarla Ó Lionáird, to their first live performance together on the stage of the National Concert Hall, which also housed American pianist Thomas Bartlett, guitarist Denis Cahill and fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, The Gloaming was born. The lexicon associated with birth, for example – renewal – well describes what took place, and what will surely continue to evolve from the rich collaboration and friendship they have nurtured.

They began with a flurry of traditional tunes to set the tone for the evening, which was to honour tradition and pulverise convention, paying homage to what brought us all here, from the past to the present, from the streets to the Concert Hall; providing a familiar template that they could then use a touchstone to deviate from and soar back to. The reels segued seamlessly into something vibrant and joyous, and it was pleasing to see so many people of varying ages let themselves melt into the fluidity of the music.
The collective then proceeded on to new, less familiar, but collaborative territory, interpreting poet Michael Hartnett’s Muince An Dreoilín/A Necklace of Wrens, and Samhradh, with Ó Lionáird’s sublime vocal revelling amidst the swooping, free sound of his accompaniment, ably illustrating that poetry is not simply transmitted through words, but also feeling. Before the first half broke, Hayes excused the length of the piece they were about to play, in the most charming way particular to his way of thinking and speaking, “it’s a long piece, so we’ll see you after”, and again when describing how The Gloaming and some of the work came together, “so there we were, here you are, and there you go”.

In truth, Hayes is probably the heartbeat of the whole collective, since he is the one that has enjoyed a long relationship with each of the other musicians, mentioning at one point that he has known Bartlett since he was twelve, when the precocious twelve year old booked Hayes and Cahill for a concert in Vermont. Hayes and Cahill also enjoy a beautiful musical shorthand that continues to add coal to the fire of the steam train that is The Gloaming, and this creates a reliable strength for the project which is almost giddy in its sense of combining and melding styles and influences, talents and kinship.

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