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Buttons and Bows

Venue: The Docks
Town: Carrick on Shannon
Date: 23/3/16

It had been several years since I had seen the above quartet, now enjoying a new lease of life with the selection of their last album The Return of Spring as Album of The Year 2015 in many polls. Theirs is a curious hybrid-classical and traditional influences meet in seamless fusion-and if one adds original compositions to the mix, it's a fairly heady brew. A packed venue saw them turn in a stunning performance, drawing their audience from a wide area, as for 2 hours or so they dazzled with an admixture of reels, jigs, waltzes and polkas, always careful not only to credit their source, but usually to provide an amusing back story to back it up.

It'a smooth sound, the dual fiddles of Seamus and Manus McGuire backed up by the classy box playing of Jackie Daly, and the accompanying string work of Gary O'Briain, and the result is a truly beautiful noise. Kicking off with a brace of Sligo polkas, they careened through soundscapes from as far apart as North Cork and Montreal, with many other stops for good measure. Much work goes into what they play, and how they find it, but it is all performed with effortless charm, leaving the listener with the warmest possible glow inside.

The consummate nature of the performance makes it almost impossible to pick one selection over another, but, if pushed, the Ballydesmond polka set, part written by Jackie would be a real contender, as would be Oyster Island, a tune composed by Seamus, so full and lush that, close the eyes, and one is thinking orchestra. There is so much that is indefinable to what these gentlemen do, that language as descriptor falls short of the mark. Suffice to say that myself and the first lady haven't enjoyed a gig as much in a VERY long time.

Oliver P. Sweeney.

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