Crossharbour - Live City Hall Dublin 26th January 2013
In a week that saw The Temple Bar Trad Fest take on an international flavour with performances from overseas artists, it should be no surprise that one of the highlights came from new London band Crossharbour. Performing as part of the London Calling show Crossharbour are a new five piece that comprise of Órlaith McAuliffe - Flute/Whistle, Sam Proctor - Fiddle, Philippe Barnes - Guitar/Flute, Tad Sargent - Bodhran/Bouzouki and Rosie Hodgson - Vocals. While their singer was absent for this performance it did not take from the enjoyment of the show. As a band and as the opening act on the night their set and their music was simply outstanding. They hinted that they had been in rehearsals for a couple of months, developing their stage show and working on a new album due to be released in April. This I can well believe because the impact of their music was evident from the start.
The performance was fantastically well arranged and they played with an ease that seemed not to stretch them. As this was one of their very first live shows there was a little nervousness present, a fact they admitted to once they had finished one of their more testing sets. The reaction from the audience was hugely positive, seemingly well aware that they were listening to something special and the applause after each set was heartfelt. With only two melody instruments guitar and bodhán filled out the sound providing a great on stage mix. A fairly standard mix of instruments but the interplay, intros and tempo shifts generated by Philippe Barnes and Tad Sargent lifted the performance sky high. For Órlaith and Sam, well we know how good they are individually but creating something great in a group context requires another level of creativity. To quote the great Jon Landau, I saw the future of trad music and its name is Crossharbour.
Pride of New York - Live City Hall Dublin 25th September 2013
In one of the grandest halls in the land The Pride of New York came out to play. The hall for all its beauty is not acoustically designed to host events like this and while it took the musicians, the audience and the sound engineer a couple of sets to get comfortable, the show settled in very nicely indeed. Fast forward to the middle of the second half of the show and I suddenly find that I'm wearing a broad smile on my face, and I stop to ask myself why it is going so well?. The four musicians would give the impression that they are making it up as they go along which adds a new dimension to the performance. With the help of their New York charm they effortlessly draw you in. The music is undeniably top drawer but this is complemented by the showmanship of the four protagonists. They banter, they quip, they have jokes and they have stories. They play off each other even when the music has stopped. The music is one thing but when it comes to sitting in a hard chair for two hours it's a welcome bonus to be given an insight into the personalities of the musicians.
Their proud heritage is very evident throughout their music and this show. Brian Conway's earliest musical learning came via Martin Mulvihill and Andy McGann who himself was taught by Coleman. Billy McComiskey recounts stories from his home county of Armagh. Brendan Dolan, son of Felix Dolan is a major contributor to the sound and follows very comfortably in the steps of his father and the legacy that he left behind. Joanie Madden is the glue that holds it all together in a manner that combines music and stage craft. As for the music on the night, they played a number of slow sets including Éamon on Chnoic and an O’ Carolan number called Madame Maxwell that were sublime for the ever so subtle chordal arrangement and the manner in which the musicians intertwined around the melody. Individually the musicians took on solo pieces that were equally awe inspiring including a fantastic Masons Apron by Brian Conway. Old nuggets like Apples in Winter paired with The Mooncoin were given an airing. This was only their third time to appear in Ireland and I am glad I braved the wet and windy night to see them live. To four master musicians who are now the Pride of Dublin, thanks for making the trip.
Reviews by Tony Lawless of TradConnect.com