Friday, January 31, 2014

The Gloaming at Sage Gateshead

Went to the Sage at Gateshead last week to see The Gloaming in concert. The Gloaming are the latest Irish supergroup, comprising Iarla Ó Lionaird, Thomas Bartlett, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and the outstanding duo of Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill.

I've written on here before about Hayes and Cahill, who I think are geniuses. It must be over ten years ago I first saw them, is Gosport, and it is still one of the first concerts I think of when I look back on outstanding occasions I've attended. I was fascinated to see what they'd be like with a group alongside them.

Overall, it was a bit of a curate's egg, I suppose. For me, there was just a touch too much of Iarla Ó Lionaird. He is an extraordinary singer, of course, but it was pretty much tune - song - tune - song all the way through, and it felt unbalanced to me. That said, I can't go along with The Scotsman's review of their concert in Glasgow, which complained: "the songs often differed little from Ó Lionaird’s solo material." Well, come on. What did they expect Iarla to do - start belting it out like Ethel Merman? Similarly, The Scotsman bemoaned the fact that "it was disappointing that much of their sound resembled a fleshed-out version of Hayes and Cahill’s duo work". Again, quite what did they expect?

I think there is a criticism to be made here, though. The amazing thing about Hayes and Cahill is the way they draw the audience into the music. It becomes hypnotic. It's just Martin Hayes's fiddle and Dennis Cahill's guitar, plus Martin's dancing feet on percussion and rhythm, but it builds so slowly and intricately and insistently the audience is sucked into the moment. There is utter silence when they play. Nobody coughs, nobody moves, just the audience listening to the music.

With The Gloaming's work - at the moment - this contract between artistes and audience is occasionally broken. The spell is lost. The magic dissipates. That may just be because they are still tightening up the act, or it may be that the Hayes and Cahill partnership is sufficient and nothing else can be added without losing some of their intensity.

But I'd certainly go and see The Gloaming again, and if you get the chance to see them I'd highly recommend it.

This is Hayes and Cahill playing solo.


Jim H. said...

Lovely stuff. Not unlike a lot of traditional Appalachian folk musics.

Tom Conoboy said...

Yes, I love Appalachian music because it is so reminiscent of both Irish and Scots music.