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How the Gloaming assembled their craic squad

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Wednesday July 23, 2014

From The Guardian

How the Gloaming assembled their craic squad
By: Alfred hickling

Ceiliuradh is the Gaelic word for celebration; and a warm April evening finds a ceiliuradh to end all ceiliuradhs at the Royal Albert Hall. The guest of honour is Michael D Higgins, the first Irish president to make an official state visit to Britain, and practically every star with an emerald connection has come out to mark the occasion. Elvis Costello, Imelda May and Villagers’ Conor O’Brien share a microphone; Fiona Shaw reads Yeats, Dermot O’Leary reads the autocue. Yet the prestige of closing the event goes to the Gloaming – a band whose first album was released in January and has only infrequently performed live.

The five members of the Gloaming have independently successful careers in the folk and classical fields, though nothing that would obviously place them above the Costello/May/Villagers axis of celebrity. The hypnotic, 20-minute piece that they play is equally enigmatic. An exposed vocal sung in medieval Gaelic becomes swathed in unearthly, droning fiddles, harp-like guitar and abstract washes of jazz piano. It sounds closer to a piece of contemporary chamber music than a traditional tune, though the players improvise freely. For the climax, the band accelerate into an exhilarating reel; and when the audience – President Higgins included – rise to their feet, no one in the hall seems quite sure what they have heard, though they’ve never heard anything quite like it before.

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