Monday 20 November 2017

Review: Modern twist to ancient art form

Traditional : The Gloaming, National Concert Hall

The members of The Gloaming.
The members of The Gloaming.
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Even if Martin Hayes, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Dennis Cahill and Thomas Bartlett never formed The Gloaming, they've all had astonishing careers in music.

Since 2011, they've collectively received a slew of five-star reviews, a Choice Music Prize for their debut album, and the honour of playing the Royal Albert Hall on the historic occasion of Michael D Higgin's official state visit to the Queen.

On the opening night of a five-date residency in the National Concert Hall, they repeatedly call the venue 'home'. Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill have plenty of previous performing here as a duo, so it makes complete sense to celebrate the launch of their new album The Gloaming 2 in this hallowed hall.

The sound is pristine and so is the performance. Ó Lionáird's haunting voice and Hayes' mercurial violin-playing often take centre stage, but they all bring something extra special to the party.

Thomas Bartlett has been involved with some of the most revered names in contemporary music from The National to David Byrne. His minimal piano playing gives these wonderful soundscapes an innovative backbone.

Hayes remarks that the band receive a lot of praise for doing something new, but to his ears, it all just sounds like Irish traditional music. He definitely has a point, but they still have the imagination and talent to bring it somewhere else, lending a modern twist to an ancient art form and creating stunning trad for the 21st century.

Martin Hayes is quite simply a demon on the violin and an absolute joy to watch. For years, his work has elevated him to a Jimi Hendrix figure of traditional fiddle-playing.

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays an intricate 10-string violin, which he explains is perfect for playing quietly. Whenever Iarla Ó Lionáird isn't singing his heart and soul out in his unique, self-styled sean nós style, he perches behind a harmonium and adds subtle layers of sound. In the centenary year of 1916, The Gloaming are continuing a stunning musical revolution.

Irish Independent

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