Thursday June 20, 2013
The Gloaming, Union Chapel
UK premiere by Irish music’s latest supergroup surpasses all expectations
By: Peter Quinn
…Hailing from Cúil Aodha in the West Cork Gaeltacht, any group that has Iarla Ó Lionaird as their singer already has a distinctly unfair advantage. One of the glories of contemporary music, in songs such as “Muince An Dreoilín”, the pithily titled “Song 44” and “Samhradh, Samhradh” (known to many from the 1975 album The Chieftains 5), hearing Ó Lionaird’s wonderfully rich timbre filling every last corner of the Union Chapel was one of the musical highlights of the year. Also providing subliminal drones on harmonium, the esrtwhile Afro Celt Sound System member occasionally hit notes that sounded like they’d been mined from the earth.
Performing a continuous, almost two-hour long set, in a similar way to Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum the concert seemed to unfold as one long, sustained arc of breath. Hearing Hayes unpick and reconstruct “Chasing the Squirrel” in as many ways imaginable, you were struck with the thought that when a tune is played with such strength and beauty, the power of the melody alone is really all you need.
Similarly, in a tune set that kicked off with the gorgeous slip jig, Catherine Kelly’s (recorded by Hayes on Under The Moon), and concluded with the coruscating reel, Tom Doherty’s (the latter a regular fixture in the Hayes/Cahill touring repertoire), the hypnotic ebb and flow of the music completely swept you up in its embrace. As Hayes remarked at one point: “If the tune’s good you want to keep playing it over and over”.
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