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Author Topic: Clannad – Harrisburg, PA – February 7, 2014  (Read 1501 times)
Tipperary's best fiddler
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Albuquerque 2009. Forever on my mind.

« on: February 11, 2014, 09:40:06 PM »

Just a short review for those who may not be familiar with Clannad.

I'm not sure how Harrisburg lucked out being a stop on Clannad's very short American tour (only 6 cities with New York, Philadelphia and Chicago among them) but when I saw the announcement I jumped into action and scored a front row pit seat. I had heard of Clannad but never really listened to them and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. They are a family group consisting of Moya Brennan with her brothers Ciarán and Pól and their twin uncles Noah and Pádraig Duggan. They are part of a very musical family that includes another member who has a hugely successful solo career. That, of course, is Moya's younger sister, Enya. Yes, that Enya.

I arrived very early and immediately noticed both a merchandise table and an autograph table in the lobby. Excellent! There were only three items at the merch table: their new CD Nádúr and their Live at Christ Church performance, in both CD and DVD format. Once the doors opened I discovered that my seat was right up against the relatively low stage. Moya's harp was in the center surrounded by various guitars and keyboards and a large drum kit. Noticeably absent was a fiddle.

Shortly after 8pm they entered the stage.  Ciarán was on the left with his instrument of choice, a large electric bass fiddle.  Pól was on the right with an acoustic guitar, a flute and several tin whistles. Noel and Pádraig were in the back center on guitar and mandolin. There were two guest artists in the back corners on percussion and keyboards. They started out with, Vellum, the lead song from their new album, inspired by the famous Book of Kells, and it only got better from there. It was a very Irish show with probably ¾ of the songs being sung entirely in Irish. Not being very familiar with their music most of the songs were new to me and I was very impressed. Some were in a style similar to Enya's mystical pieces while other were more traditional. Among the songs I did recognize were New Grange, Theme from Harry's Game and Two Sisters.

The surprise finale was Dulaman, but it was nothing like CW's version. It lasted almost 10 minutes and gave each performer a chance for a long solo. After a long standing ovation they returned for an encore which was another surprise, Téir Abhaile Riú! Again it was radically different than CW's version, almost unrecognizable at times. We stayed standing for the whole song and they finished to another huge round of applause. The entire show was almost 2 hours with no intermission. I had asked one of the ushers about pictures before the show and he said they were permitted, without flash, but I ended up being so engrossed by the show that I totally forgot until it was almost over.

As the crew started to tear down the stage I looked for a set list but sadly there were none. Oh, well. I took my time getting to the lobby and there was quite a line already formed for the M&G. I only had a short 45 minute drive home so I opted to wait and bring up the rear. Ciarán, Noel and Pádraig sat at the table with Pól standing next to them while Moya stood away from the table so that people could pose for pictures with her. When I finally got to the table I had a nice chat with Ciarán while they autographed my CD. I asked him about the bass he was playing and he called it a “stick with strings,” but he said it was much easier to travel with than a normal bass fiddle. They were all very eager to know what everyone thought of the show. Virtually nobody who was there had seen them perform live since they haven't toured for decades and they were anxious for feedback. As we talked, and Pól learned how many concerts I've been to (not just CW), he thoroughly grilled me on what I thought.

Finally it was my turn to meet Moya. Like Orla, she was very easy to talk to and it felt like we had known each other for years. When I mentioned that I had just been to Ireland she got very interested and asked where I had gone. I told her, “Everywhere!” She specifically asked if I had been to Donegal, since that's where they are from, and she was very pleased when I told her I had spent 2 days there. By this time it was a little after 11pm and venue personnel were anxious to close up shop so she signed my CD and we posed for a picture before they had to leave.

All in all, it was a most excellent evening and I am so glad that I went. If you are interested in seeing them, their Live at Christ Church DVD is outstanding. It was filmed in Dublin in 2011 and includes a lot of what was in this show, minus the songs from Nádúr since that album didn't exist yet. Both Dulaman, in a slightly more subdued form, and Téir Abhaile Riú are included.

The group taking their bows after TAR.
The blurry image at the far left is the drummer followed by Ciarán, Noel, Moya, Pádraig, the keyboardist and Pól.

Me with the delightful (and Grammy winning) Moya Brennan.


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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 02:26:59 PM »

Sounds like a great evening! They are certainly one of the foundational groups of the Celtic genre. Always nice to have the full cast and lots of pleasant conversation. Some of us know about that grilling by other groups on our experiences. Doubtless they found a library in you! 

An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
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