Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Gloaming at the Empire

Another new experience for me this week, courtesy of Moving On Music

The Gloaming is described as a "newly minted collective of five remarkable musicians poised to become a vital force in Irish music. Navigating between the contemporary and traditional genres, their creativity trumps predictability – with music that is haunting and beautiful in equal measure".

I can count on one hand the amount of times I have heard live traditional Irish music. Twice after a funeral, once in Madden's where I was drinking not listening and once in a theatre show.  Other experiences include Riverdance on Eurovision and the token working class Irish dance in Titanic with Kate Winslett.  I'm not a big fan of uilleann pipes (they sound like stylophones) and my experience of tin whistles is kids murdering Greensleeves. As you can probably tell, I'm not the best person to review the event in any intelligent or knowledgeable way.

However unlikely it may seem, I'm delighted to say I enjoyed the gig.  Not only did I enjoy it but I am going to buy The Gloaming's CD when it is released in a couple of months. I won't say I'm now a fan of Irish music because that would not be true, but there was enough in the Gloaming's music to redefine my perceptions of what Irish music is.  No tin whistles, but a Grand piano, guitar, 2 fiddles and a shruti box. The music sounded ancient and enduring but Thomas Bartlett's piano, in particular added a contemporary edge.      

The ebb and flow of the music is something I really liked.  I guess I'm used to one tune finishing before another is played, but the seamless transition from songs focusing on Ó Lionáird's haunting vocals to the catchy rhythm of Martin Hayes' fiddle playing ensured a depth I never knew existed in Irish music.
From beautiful melancholy songs sang in Irish to fiddle-dee-dee reels, the colour of the music energised the room and provided real interest even to new attenders like me.

I particularly enjoyed the effect the music had on the audience. One older man standing in front of me swayed and bounced to every single beat the band played. His bobbing about like the floor was on fire seemed funny, but in this context it was my not bobbing about that was unusual.  The foot tapping on the floor started out very quietly until eventually the whole room was vibrating to the beat of hundreds of feet.

It was how the music made me feel that I didn't expect.  This was not a room full of people listening to a band play music, this was a community of friends joined in listening to the the history of the music, the stories being told and feeling the emotions being played.

Next time, I might just join in with the bobbing about...


  1. Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aF3fW4Nox9U#!

  2. Paul, Thanks for that. Still not a fan, but can appreciate his genius. It just sounds like a 16 bit computer game to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo0z4hzkENs :-)