If you have the talent, they will come. And almost 1,000 fans packed into the Radisson Blu to see the real deal in trad and folk as Dervish’s 21st gig capped a wonderful Sligo Live weekend.
In the end the stage was filled with an orchestra of fiddles, banjos, bouzoukis, pipes, guitars and some real folk legends of the Fall. Elfin Cathy Jordan coaxed, cajoled and mothered her musicians into a stunning display of how to get an audience on its feet as well and served up some earthy barbs to keep the audience on their toes. And there were loads of whirling dervishes of various types as the music began to hit the spot around midnight.
Add in the ethereal Maire Brennan( Clannad) from the Fomorian fastness of Donegal, Triona Ni Dhomhnaill and the one and only Ms Eddi Reader and you can see why things were so lively.
Like Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Maire Brennan was a boarder in the Ursuline Convent and saluted Sligo with a mesmeric version of Down By The Sally Gardens as well as a stunning duet with Cathy Jordan on Eileen a Run. Ms Reader, a wickedly laconic redhead, used to be a busker on Sauciehall Street in Glasgow before becoming the voice of Fairground Attraction in the 1980s. But her rendering of Robbie Burns My Love is Like a Red Red Rose had a touch of Emmylou Harris on a good day. As she drawled; “And I will love you still my dear till all the seas gang dry”is much nicer than “Giz yer number doll”.
Dervish’s guests also included Seamie O’Dowd, Sligo’s softly spoken musical genius and Tom Baxter who also dueted with Ms Jordan on Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather. But Sligo’s own Dervish are still one of the few bands who are able to build skilfully form a mild foot-tap to a frenzied finish, from a mesmeric rollicking reel into something sad and slow and timeless. And when you throw in Jordan’s truly haunting ballads, it’s a potent mix.Cathy did not sing the wonderful Is Ar Eirinn Ni Neosfainn Ce Hi or Mo Ghiolla Mear but hey, you just can’t have everything. In an age of saacharine X Factor clones it is nice to taste a bit of the pure drop through the teeth…especially when it’s in Sligo.
Slainte agus bas in Eirinn.