Moya Brennan is often referred to as "The Voice Of Clannad" "The First Lady Of Celtic Music" or sometimes as both. She has undoubtedly one of the most recognisable voices in modern music with its ethereal and emotional quality. She is one of nine children, her younger sister is Enya, and was born into a music loving pub owning family in Donegal. Her father was still playing music up to his death at the age of 90. Her life story alone is worth reading!
Last week, Moya and her band, honoured the small yet intimate venue in Selby with their presence and their unique brand of music. The theatre is small as is the stage which was crammed with instruments; two keyboards, one guitar, one mandolin, one violin, a couple of bodhrans and of course, two harps. Added to this are the five musicians in what can best be described as a cosy environment.
The set comprised a selection of Moya's Celtic solo offerings, a few Clannad tracks, some stunning harp instrumentals and, quite surprisingly, a truly beautiful version of Christopher Cross's classic "Sailing." The band consists of long time collaborator Cormac De Barra, Moya's multi instrument playing daughter Aisling and son Paul and a young violinist and singer. I apologise to her for not getting her name. All of this interspersed with some delightful stories from both Moya and Cormac all delivered in their beautiful Irish brogue.
The harmonies produced by the band are stunning and the influence of Clannad can clearly be heard. This is no real surprise as Moya was a major part of the band for forty six years. The harp is an instrument that it is certainly not overused in modern music and the inclusion of two was a real delight for this music lover who has always loved the sound of the instrument. Perhaps due to my Irish roots?
This is most certainly not a show to get you up dancing but it is one that will wrap you in a nice warm towel which at times you will need as some of the songs made me shiver, such is the quality of the vocals. Cormac's harp playing is as good as anything I have ever heard in a concert hall before. In the way that the music will not get you up dancing, it is also not something that you can join in with either although the crowd were encouraged to sing the chorus of one particular Irish song. Luckily the words were just "Dum de dum de dum." We could all cope with that!
On leaving the venue, I said to my wife that this was one of the most beautiful, gentle and emotional shows that I had seen for a long time. This despite not having a clue about many of the lyrics. Chilling, magical, moving and so much more. Moya does not tour much there days so if you get the chance to see and hear this amazing lady, take the opportunity. You will not hear anything quite like it anywhere else.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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