Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

Venue: Hawkswell Theatre
Town: Sligo
Date: 28/10/15

A Hayes and Cahill concert is always a special event, because no two gigs are remotely the same, and tonight was no exception , as the dynamic duo gave a Sligo debut to a new set, which at six selections, was numerically, the shortest programme we have witnessed. To turn around a tailor's quote of years ago " never mind the width, feel the quality", for this was a masterclass in dynamics, technique, control, but above all, passion, as we were held spellbound in our seats by a gravitational force that took us to a host of places during this two hour extravaganza.

Beginning with a beautiful, measured, reading of " The Lark in The Clear Air", they segued seamlessly into a jig written by Peadar O'Riada , called "Cá Bhfuil an Solas", or Where is The Light, before moving on to three reels in succession, increasing in intensity till the final downbow of O'Rourke's. What is happening here is not merely the practised interaction of two master musicians, but the exploration of the spaces in the music, Hayes' intensity and drive the perfect foil to Denis' zen like approach to accompaniment. It is, of course, much more than that, as his minimalist approach on the gut strings searches for the appropriate note or chord to compliment and augment what Martin does. This is a spiritual connection, and we feel it too.

The first half is brought to a close by another piece by PeadarO'Riada, an air called " Ceanntar Glas Mhúscraí", which leads into another set of reels, the last of which features some amazing fretwork from Denis, and , following a break for tea and biscuits, it was back to the business in hand. An air-" Verona", written by their friend Bill Frisell, was followed by a rich version of " The Butterfly", followed by a clatter of reels, and for the ultimate set, they kicked off with some very witty verbal foreplay from Martin-with "O'Carolan's Farewell to Music", followed by a track from The Gloaming's album"Chasing The Squirrel", and much more besides. It was over much too soon, but they did come back for an encore of "Port na bPúcaí", followed by "The Clare Reel", and a triple set of Sligo tunes.

Music of this kind comes our way all too rarely, but boy, were we glad we braved the storm to get there. Mesmerising, and brilliant, this truly was ground breaking, genre bending stuff. Roll on the next time!

Oliver P. Sweeney.

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