Search This Blog

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Buy One Get One Free at the Liverpool Phil

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Sunday 21st October 2007

Moya Brennan [web][myspace][wiki]
Julie Feeney [web][myspace][wiki]

When details of this show were published in the Phil's brochure, the prospect of Moya, accompanied by the RLPO, was good enough to sell me a pair of tickets. But this particular bargain at the point of sale wasn't the only one on offer.
Apparently Moya had discovered a phenomenal musician at the same time as I did. We both tuned in to a Duke Special concert on BBC Radio Ulster and sharing the bill that evening was Julie Feeney. I was so impressed with her that I just had to do my little bit to tell the world via while Moya found out that there was more to Julie Feeney than just singer/songwriting. To cut a long story short, Moya invited Julie to score the music for the string section of the RLPO and conduct them as well.
So, with the needle on my anticipation dial pointing way past the red zone, and last night's Brian Kennedy concert still keeping me on a high, it was time to welcome Moya Brennan, the voice of Clannad with her 7-piece backing band on to the stage.
Robed in a resplendant royal blue Ciaran S. Grammy number, Moya was received by her awaiting accompanists.
Tapestry's intricate weavings of Eamonn Galldubh's Uillean Pipes, Sinead Madden's Violin and Moya's mesmeric vocals emerged from the fading applause and just to ensure that the audience's tansition into trance was complete, Moya reached for the bones and tapped us into Newgrange before saying Hello.
Apart from a minor distraction of a quickly quelled flash photographer and the whirring of the smoke machine during Pill A Run O, the first half continued as per the Signature Tour set - a steady flow of Clannad favourites, one or two from Moya's previous solo albums and a couple of jigs and reels. The penultimate song of the first half saw the introduction of Julie Feeney, who sat at the grand piano and delivered one of her songs from her 13 Songs album, Wind Out Of My Sails. Moya added BVs.
Julie returned the compliment for the first half finale, Many Faces.
The addition of the string section at the start of the second half made a mockery of the ticket price. A cluster of 4 whammies, 3 from Signature with Harry's Game in the midst, forced the body folicles to stand up on the goosebumps. For openers, Purple Haze was instrumentally lethal. Julie managed to split the group into two during the staccato bits.The arrangements of Merry Go Round and Black Night were of a equally high standard.
As was Harry's Game which seemed to be given a whole new life.
Prior to this concert I had this preconceived idea that the orchestra would be a dominant feature, but my fears were happily allayed. Everything integrated so well and each song just had this extra depth.
From this cluster of 4 the orchestra took a breather but returned here and there for more beauties from the Signature album,No One Talks,in particular, was just out and out quality.
An encore was demanded and as the backing band were doing there cameo solos during Nil Se'n La (It's Not Yet Daytime) it suddenly dawned on me that we were approaching the end of the show.
I wasn't keeping count, but apparently 9 songs were scored by Julie. She obviously has more strings to her bow (groan !) than just singer/songwriting.
Hour upon hours worth of rehearsal work must have gone into this by everyone on that stage. The whole presentation was immaculate right down to intricate details like Sinead's BVs harmonising perfectly with the violins.
Moya signed my copy of her autobiography after the show. I mentioned the Birkenhead gig and she told me that she enjoyed reading my review. So if Moya is kind enough to read my written works, it's only fair that I should read hers.
And to close this perfect weekend, I had to play that Beautiful Dreamer duet with Brian Kennedy once more.

The Band

Moya Brennan - Lead Vocals, Harp, Shaker & Bones
Paul Byrne – percussion
Fionan De Barra – Guitars, Vocals
Sinead Madden – Fiddle, (perfectly matched)Vocals and Shaker
Sam Jackson – Piano /Keyboards
Eamonn Galldubh – Uilleann Pipes, Clarinet and other wind instruments.
Yoshinobi Izumi – Electric Bass (left handed), Vocals
Cormac De Barra – Electric Harp, Vocals

Julie Feeney - Guest singer and conductor and the musical score for the string section of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

FOOTNOTE1: Thanks very much to Martijn from Moya's Forum for getting a copy of the setlist

FOOTNOTE2 : Moya talks about the Signature album.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Brian Kennedy, a Scouser from Belfast

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Saturday 20th October 2007

Brian Kennedy abandoned all but one of his band, ditched his suit and tore up the setlist and then casually walked on to the stage at one of Liverpool's most prestigious venues, packed to the rafters, and provided a performance that will be cemented into the audience's memories for years to come.
After the obligatory half-hour support act - (Steve Roberts) - a local lad from Waterloo, who conjured up songs about taxi journeys from Speke, his Mother-in-law and New Brighton's nightclubs - the lights brightened to reveal a relatively well populated auditorium. Not a bad attendance, considering that there was a bit of a rugby match on the telly. However, as BK's appearance became imminent,this soon became a capacity audience when the orders were bellowed for the stragglers to leave the bar.
The lights dimmed once again and his backing band for the night, Callum MacColl, took his place on stage to receive Mr. Kennedy, whose arrival was greeted with a bit of a gasp due his shorn locks and attire of black t-shirt & jeans.
It could only have been Brian Kennedy as he grabbed his guitar and launched straight into one of the songs from his latest album. I've forgotten the title already because, like Brian, I didn't make a setlist.
That was the plan, as far as songs were concerned, totally ad-libbed from the off and all requests from the lively bunch of Liverpudlians were thrown into the mix. That is the beauty of the live performance. Expect anything, for when the singer has such quality and the songs are established favourites, the outcome is guaranteed enjoyment.
For his part, Brian was totally at home with the mass of Merseysiders. One request was for Christopher Street, which he repeated back in an acceptable Scouse dialect. This banter was stepped up a further notch as an American shouted his request which received a similar mimic.
On Brian's CV you will find that he has performed in Riverdance, been a backing singer with Van Morrison, accompanied countless other artistes ranging from Lulu to Sinead O'Connor and has represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Album releases are well into double figures, and two songs from his next album, Interpretations, was represented in the show. As you can guess from the title, Interpretations will be comprised of cover versions, and I for one can't wait for its release. If Clifford T Ward's Gay and Declan O'Rourke's Gallileo are anything to go by. I'm currently nursing a cold, the streaming eyes and runny nose were a brilliant excuse to get the hankie out for Clifford's cover.
His main set closed with Put The Message In The Box and returned with a 2 song encore. The first being last year's Irish Eurovision entry,Every Song Is A Cry For Love and, for any potential X-Factor entrants, a beautiful off-mic delivery of You Raise Me Up..... yes, the one that Westlife did, but go and find a copy of Brian's....
I joined the queue at the CD table after the show and picked up On Song and On Song 2, the latter had Beautiful Dreamer on it. I just had to play that one before resting my head, especially as it is a duet with Moya Brennan. Moya is appearing at this venue the night after....and I have tickets.