Rain. Music. More Rain. More Music. Much More Rain and Music. Much Much More Music and Rain. Massive lashings of both, but the Music won out.
Friday night’s main concert was a Clare & Galway smorgasbord with a solid foundation from Chicago. Lineup featured:
Martin Hayes (fiddle) & Dennis Cahill (guitar)
Frankie Gavin (fiddle) & Mairtin O’Connor (button box)
Roisin Elsafty (sean-nos singer)
Helen Hayes (traditional singer)
All were in fine form but the highlights for me were the two duo’s.
Frankie and Mairtin reworked some of their previous De Dannan material and each took a solo turn with Frankie playing My Lagan Love (air) and a newly composed reel he wrote for his nephew. Mairtin’s solo was the individual highlight of the evening. He is without doubt the best box player today. He performed an air entitled The Crying of the Women at the Slaughter with a break which featured a tune called Planxty Brian Haw (named after the peace protestor in London - which I believe Mairtin wrote) and two jigs: an Irish Jig song (could not catch the title) and The Black Rogue. Simply stunning.
Their duet playing was great. The interplay between the two Galwegians contained an abundance of counter-point melodies and chordal confluence. The two were always my favorite fiddle/accordion DeDanann combination and gave solid proof that you don’t need a separate accompaniment instrument in Irish Music. It’s already in the tunes -- you just need to bring it out when playing them.
The final act of the evening was Martin & Dennis and they showed why they are the premier duo in Irish Music -- quite possibly the best-ever fiddle and guitar combination. Ten plus years of playing together and getting tighter and more as one as the days go on. Their opening set featured a combination of tunes from the new album and some new show only material. They had the audience in their nimble hands from the first notes of the slow air Easter Snow followed by Beare Island Reel composed by (I believe) Richie Dwyer of the Dwyer Clan (Finbarr, Micheal, John). A slip jig called The Night Poor Larry was Stretched from their new “Welcome Here Again” followed by the Cavan Reel, Torn Coat, the Mountain Lark and ending with Tom Doherty’s Reel. A spectacular display.
The remaining 30 minutes was exponentially better. At one point all that was heard in the Church was fiddle, guitar, and several hundred pairs of feet tapping the wooden floor in unison (and in perfect sync) with Martin & Dennis. Talk of performer and audience in a complete meld with the music...
The music (and how they play it) can be misinterpreted as simple -- but its more like this version of s.i.m.p.l.e.:
Afterward the talk outside the venue was that it was the best performance the people had heard in the last ten years than Martin & Dennis performed here. I wholeheartedly agree...