A Stór Mo Chroí – A Night to Remember

Billed as “A Stór Mo Chroí – A Musical Gathering” at the MAC Theatre in Belfast as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens 2014, Monday nights concert was a widely anticipated event and certainly lived up to expectations

With a line up boasting some of the finest Traditional Musicians in the entire Island of Ireland, the standard of both the playing and singing was just out of this world.

Now let’s state that these guys came with a “Gold Plated” recommendation but to be fair so do a lot of other acts. In 35 years of the business that is entertainments and Music it’s wise to take all with a degree of politeness and circumspection but… boy, in this case was the description more than just 100% accurate.

It was a serious understatement.

From the opening few numbers whereby the band of Donal O’Connor on Fiddle, Piano and Keyboard, John McSherry  on Uilleann Pipes, Low Whistles and Whistles and Donogh Hennessy on Guitar, superbly set the tone for the night with a wonderful mix of traditional plus contemporary tunes, the evening kicked off in style.

Next up to join the gathering on stage was Mary Dillon on vocals who treated everyone to an incredibly beautiful and moving rendition of “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” and soon there was a constant stream of new arrivals with Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (superb in Cois Abhainn Na Séad, Seanduine and The Bold Fenian Men), then Pauline Scanlon & Éilís Kennedy from “Lumiere” and finally the gathering on stage was complete with the arrival of contemporary ”trad hero”, John Spillane on vocals and Guitar.

To paraphrase John, “the evening started really rocking” and there was no looking back.

In the second half the audience were treated to a couple of songs from the Lumiere “Song book” including “Fair and Tender Ladies” and “Fíl Fíl a Rúin O” in which both Pauline and Éilís demonstrated why Lumiere are fast becoming a “hot ticket item”.

To describe the ladies of Lumiere as merely singers ranks alongside such other understatements as Michaelangelo knew the odd thing about sculpture or Da Vinci wasn’t bad with a paint brush, it doesn’t come remotely close. We were treated to such a wide array of vocal textures, expression and interpretations that it left you feeling completely spellbound.

John Spillane in the gentle, quirky and humorous manner of which only he is capable of brought us back to earth with some fine renderings of “Passage West” and ”The Voyage of the Sirius” and before we knew it the evening was coming to a tumultuous close with an incredibly powerful version of “Nead na Lachan”.

The assembled gathering then came back onto the stage whereby “the band”, Dónal, John and Donogh whipped us roundly into shape with yet more spirited fervor before the singers came back to lead us all into the finale of “Óró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile”.

Those present witnessed something truly special and to describe it merely as a Concert does not do justice to the evening nor give the performers their true worth.

Hopefully “A Stór Mo Chroí” will be back to Belfast (sooner rather than later) and when they do, don’t wait to be asked to buy a ticket. Mortgage the house, the family heirlooms or even sell your grandmothers collection of false teeth if you have to but whatever it takes just get there.

Distributed by Strong Urge To Fly

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