What a grand way to start the 2010 Celtic Connections concert series, a sold out show with Michael McGoldrick and his band!
The cavernous O2 ABC Theater, complete with the largest disco ball I’ve ever seen, was packed with fans of all ages, who’d clearly come to have a great time. We snagged a table in the wee side bar, one of the few places a person could sit and take notes.
Declan O’Rourke opened the show. An Irish singer/songwriter, O’Rourke droned his way through a series of forgettable songs, until the end where he performed two stand-out pieces, a surprisingly lively piece about a couple dying during an Irish famine and one where he seemed to be channeling Leonard Cohen.
McGoldrick and his band took the stage next, and my jetlag disappeared at the first notes. Backed by a truly all-star line-up, McGoldrick held forth with flute and pipes, setting the crowd into a bouncing mass. There were so many musical highlights that night. One of my favorites was a percussion set, where the amazing talents of John Joe Kelly on bodhran and Parvinder Bharat on tablas were so brilliant that even the trio of screechy women sitting next to us shut up to listen. Karan Casey lit up the stage with two songs, including an intriguing new version of the classic “Sixteen Come Next Sunday.”
McGoldrick has a new CD, Aurora, which will be featured in upcoming Oak and Thorn shows. The opening set, “freefalling” is the first track on the CD, and it set a terrific tone: technically brilliant, with a wild edge. The show built energy throughout, only slowing once when a whistle-based set hit an odd buzzy tone. Finished up with a couple of my favorites – and obviously of the crowd as well – “Hip agus Hop” and the closer, “James Brown’s March.”
Great start to our CC adventure!