Music Network-Maura O'Connell, Martin Tourish, Karan Casey, Ed Boyd

Venue: Hawkswell Theatre
Town: Sligo
Date: 25/1/15

For several years now, Music Network have, among other activities , been drawing together musicians and singers of diverse backgrounds and influences to perform together, and having allowed the results of the above combo's alchemy to marinate for a few days, one would have to say that it was an inspired confluence of talents, more especially given that they had never met before!Add to that the location, up for IMRO'S Venue of The Year award, and the stars seemed to be in their proper alignment.

The material on the programme was a mix of the familiar, and the relatively new, and Maura kicked off proceedings with Summerfly, Karan coming in on harmonies-beautifully judged-from the second verse, and then it was her turn. Over the years, she has become a songwriter of no little substance, and I'll Be Home is no exception. Bell-like vocals emphasised the lyrical poignancy of the piece, and Martin and Ed's shadings on piano accordion and guitar were subtle in the extreme. Indeed, for a quartet who had one rehearsal day prior to the tour commencing, the onstage magic was instinctive!

Much was made of the fact that Martin Tourish had recently been conferred with a Doctorate, and his contributions on box derived largely from original pieces, or those which came from the fount of Donegal musicians such as John Doherty , or Con Cassidy. Repeated listens to tracks like the TG4 Set show that the compositional trend shows its seamless absorption into the tradition. Maura talked of the old days, by way of introducing Shades of Gloria, from the pen of Gerry O'Beirne. Replete with fabulous harmonies , this was a performance of the first water, maybe even the highlight of the performance.

As is the nature of things, we may not see this combination come our way again for a while, but if one wished for a representation of all that is great about what we-as performers-do, then here was where it could be found. A coalescence of humour, presentation, playing and singing of the highest degree, it won't be easily bested this , or any other year.

Oliver P. Sweeney

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