Latest Chieftains ‘Live’ review – Glasgow SECC

The Chieftains, SECC, Glasgow

Published on 18 June 2012

Rob Adams ****

The Breton-style conga through the auditorium may not have persuaded the audience out of their seats en masse at the end of this 50th-anniversary celebration but there was no questioning the enthusiasm that the Chieftains still inspire among those who will have seen Irish music’s leading ambassadors innumerable times and those, like the woman beside me, who bought a ticket on spec.

Quite where Paddy Moloney and his now two-strong core of long-time Chieftains, flute virtuoso Matt Molloy and singer-bodhran player Kevin Conneff, begin choosing a programme from the group’s long train of recordings and projects is anyone’s guess. In the event, they gave a fine representation across the decades and while the long finale that allowed absolutely everyone onstage a solo turn had a certain inevitability, ultimately it did, like everything that had gone before, also have a vigour and sense of spontaneity that belied the fact that this show has been on the road for months.

Local connections, including a troupe from the Montgomery-Taylor Irish dance school, a small pipe band from the High School of Glasgow and rollicking keyboards from Session A9’s Brian McAlpine, added to that spontaneity but Moloney’s choice of new Chieftains must also take credit. Nashville fiddler-mandolinist Deanie Richardson’s bluegrass nous and bluesy verve shone magnificently and harper Triona Marshall’s expert reading of Carolan’s Concerto set the ensemble version up with renewed passion. Lovely singing from Lewis’s own Alyth McCormack, Tim Edey’s typically boisterous guitar and box playing, and energetic fiddling and footsteps from Jon Pilatke and brother Nathan alongside Cara Butler’s assured, high-stepping moves all contributed to a really enjoyable transatlantic spectacle.

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