From start to finish this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of songs and music that left me feeling supremely relaxed, nostalgic for home and for my childhood, and just a little bit Christmassy. Moya Brennan, the lead singer of Clannad, they of the haunting harmonies and Celtic melodies, led her band in a beautifully balanced set of old folk songs (in Gaelic, English, Scots Gaelic and even a bit of Cherokee), Irish tunes and contemporary folk rock.
Moya was accompanied by her daughter Aisling on guitar and vocals, Sinéad Madden on fiddle, whistle and vocals, and a keyboard player (whose name escapes me now). Together with Moya on harp or bodhrán they made a warm and engaging sound together. The three voices blended together as well as you’d expect from a heavily Clannad-influenced band. Some of the almosta capella harmony singing was magical – real goosebumps stuff.
It was the GLAS Christmas Concert for this year, so there was a good smattering of seasonal songs. Despite not being religious, I’m actually a big fan of this time of the year. They played some really unusual arrangements of popular carols like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Deck The Halls. The encore of Oíche Chiúin/Silent Night was the perfect way to bring the concert to an end, giving those of us in the audience a chance to sing along, and not for the first time that evening.
One of the standout moments for me was a haunting performance of Down By The Sally Gardens, the WB Yeats poem. Hearing it brought distant memories flooding back for me, maybe even as far back as when my family lived in Gweedore, Moya’s own hometown. I was pleased to have a chance to talk with her after the gig down in Charly O’Neill’s. (Besides talking about Gweedore I was able to remind her that I had accompanied her on guitar myself about 15 years ago at a DCU Christmas event. She said she remembered the event, but she may just have been being polite.)
I finished what had been a very pleasant evening overall by taking the opportunity to sing a couple of songs myself. There was a jam session on stage in Charly’s for the birthday of a friend of mine. With the Donegal contingent in the house I decided to sing City of Chicago, followed by the Christmas song myself and David Graham wrote together. I thought it was a good chance to give it an airing: you never know what connections Moya might have!
She didn’t sing this one, but just being at the concert made me think of it – this Robin Hood series with its haunting theme tune by Clannad was an essential part of Saturday evening viewing when I was…I’m guessing…around 10 or 11 years old.
Clannad – Robin Hood par Mongol20PL