|Guinness Celebration of Irish Music|
|Source:||The Press - Christchurch|
Guinness Celebration of Irish Music. In the Town Hall auditorium. March 15 at 7.30pm. Reviewed by Neil MacLeod. This was a five star, five-course feast of the best of contemporary Irish music generous helpings of the liveliest and most creative revival in Western music had today.
Last year the auditorium had three sessions of the same old schmaltz and pub songs dished up in the same old way, enough for some fans of Irish music, but last nights' audience was thrilled, moved and delighted by fine musicians playing new songs and new arrangements of old ones. Planted in the rich soil of the Celtic tradition, Irish music is blooming in novel and interesting ways Christy Moore earned his bill ing as 'Irelands' Premier balladeer' by his dramatic delivery of a good range of songs from the vary moving 'For All Our Languages' through the poignant 'Cliffs of Duneen' to the very funny 'After 14 Pints of Stout'. Davy Spillane had but one solo on the whistle which left us craving more of his magical expressiveness on so simple an instrument, but we enjoyed his uilleann pipes in a lively set of jigs and reels with Nollaig Casey on fiddle and Donal Lunny on guitar. Casey also sang an air beautifully. Lunny is one of the most inventive producers behind
the Celtic revival of the last two decades and one suspects behind the fine arrangements in this well designed concert. Stocktons Wing were introduced as 'The hottest band in Ireland today' and, in a three quarter hour set of tightly delivered and cleverly arranged airs, jigs and reels, this five member group of fine musicians demonstrated their ability to challenge the Chieftains for the title. Their versions of 'masons Apron' and 'Slipslide' and other jigs and reels showed how exciting the old tradition can be with some inventive presentation. The concert was opened by Barleycorn, a three-piece group who warmed up the audience with a half hour of old favourites. Their vocals were fine, especially from their lead tenor, a (taller) Harry Secombe look-alike and sound-alike.
The most special course in the feast was the performance by Frances Black and Kieran Goss. Blacks' superbly controlled voice, sensitively expressive and beautifully decorated, validates her claim to the crown of her sister, Mary. Her harmonies with Goss were perfect, whichever had the melody. Over Goss's simple but perfectly adequate guitar they delivered some of the loveliest songs of contemporary Celtic composers such as Dougie Maclean, Mick Hanly and Ewan McColl.