(The Herald - Review) Celtic Connections Glasgow 2010 -- An Irish Homecoming

The Herald
January 18 2010

Celtic Connections


Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
by Rob Adams


LIGHTNING does strike twice in the same place. Back in 1994, on their first appearance in Glasgow at the first Celtic Connections, Cherish the Ladies turned up as an unknown Irish-American band, made a huge impression, and on the basis of their performance began a continuing relationship with the festival and the city. Last night they introduced a friend who promptly gained a standing ovation and may well follow Cherish’s example in achieving honorary Glaswegianship.

Dermot Henry’s bewildered bumpkin persona won’t be everyone’s taste – his Folk and Irish singer skit is a well-worn joke given a bit of a polish – but it obviously struck a chord with the audience here in what was an, at times, chancy balance between sentimental Oirish get together for old times sake and sharper than sharp celebration of the traditional arts.

Cherish the Ladies themselves have moved on considerably, personnel-wise, since that first gig. Four of the six musicians involved actually come from this side of the pond and while that gives a stronger native Irish accent to some of the material, their essential recipe of music, song and dance remains the same.

Musically, there were particularly strong contributions from their guests, fiddler Liz Carroll and accordionist Jimmy Keane, and songwise, Henry apart, there was a striking contrast between Michelle Burke’s sweet singing and another guest, Maura O’Connell’s more lived-in tones.

But it was the dancers who particularly caught the eye and ear, with Dan Stacey following a spectacular solo tapped entry with a Quebecois-style chair dancing quartet that should have carried a “don’t try this at home” warning.

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