Concert Review – Dervish

Dervish – Lichfield Guildhall – 17th February 2013

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair

The world famous traditional Irish band Dervish called into a near sold-out Lichfield Guildhall as part of their latest tour, to promote their latest release ‘The thrush in the storm’.

The six piece band of Brian McDonagh on Mandola and Mandolin, Flute and whistle player Liam Kelly, Fiddle player Tom Morrow, Shane Mitchell on Accordion, Cathy Jordan on Vocals, bodhrán and bones and Bouzouki player Michael Holmes played a wide ranging concert that ranged from the traditional music of Ireland to songs sung and made famous by Bob Dylan.

Playing songs and music from their new album, the ensemble started of with ‘Heading Home’ a spirited instrumental, whilst Maggie’s Lilt/The Rookery’ was a slow, more wistful piece, full of melodic invention and fine rhythm playing. The Coolea Jigs, with the rhythm section of Mandola, Bodhran and Bouzouki proved a solid foundation for the melodic interplay of the Accordian, Fiddle and Whistles. This piece also featured a display of Irish dancing from Declan McCabe, who’s stunning and deft footwork also added to the spectacle and rhythm of many of the group’ more upbeat pieces.

Singer Cathy Jordan is seen as one of the best singers in traditional Irish music and this facet of the group’s repertoire was shown to best advantage in the ballad ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’, turning Bob Dylan’s words into a majestic aire for the band to play.

The first set also featured ‘Handsome Polly’ whilst the new set ‘The Green Gowned Lass’ saw more Olympic standard playing from all six musicians.

The second half featured a lot of new material, and whilst the band and the audience were not as familiar with it, as they were with the older songs, the standard of playing was still very high. ‘The Sheep on the Boat/The Rolling Wave’ were two tunes full of strong rhythms, and perfectly played violin and whistle, whilst ‘Red Haired Mary’ was well received, as was the final track, the title track from ‘The thrush in the storm’.

An encore of an acapella version of ‘Shanna Golden’ was a great showcase for Cathy Jordan’s vocals, and kept the audience enraptured, whilst concert closer ‘Out on the Road; ’ was a rousing way to end the concert.

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