Maria McKee @ St Patrick’s Cathedral - January 27th 2017

It has been a long time since this sublime artist graced a Dublin audience with her singular talent. Returning as part of the Trad Fest weekend, we are very quickly reacquainted with the force of nature that is a Maria McKee performance. Her media footprint may not be too evident these days but that vocal range and delivery has not diminished over the years.

Since she first appeared as a blazing new talent back in the late 1980’s and has been something of an enigma, almost shunning the commercial fame that was offered, while continuing to produce work of enduring quality.

Just how much practice she had in preparation for this one-off performance is anybody’s guess, as she does not have a website to track her current live activity, but she delivers a tour de force performance over 80 minutes plus that confirms her as an enduring influence upon the musical vista of the past 20 years.

The advancing years are not something that this artist acknowledges and this special venue bears witness to a quality performance that makes a mockery of the preconception that lack of activity leads to a diluted artistic drive.

Her repertoire is fondly remembered and revisited over a set list that covers many of the back-catalogue of music over her career and her stage persona is as witty and engaging as back in the days when she lived in Dublin and regularly graced our venues with her song-writing talent.

Joined by Denis Roche on guitar and a 2-song cameo from Jude, who flew in from London and recently lost his mother; the sense of witnessing a heat-felt and genuine performance is strongly evident among the enthusiastic audience. Maria just breezes from song to song with a disarming charm that keeps everybody completely present in the moment and never wanting the essence of it all to end.

A nod to Lone Justice, her original country band, is made with the inclusion of a very special performance of Wheels and many old favourites are revisited on guitar and piano over the course of the evening…

Has He Got A Friend For Me? Breathe; I've Forgotten What It Was In You (That Put The Need In Me); High Dive; In Your Constellation; Shelter; A Good Heart; The Sound Of Your Wheels are all performed with both grace and gusto.

Cover Me is a song that has caused this artist some conflicting emotions over the years but tonight she celebrates the success of the song and rightly so …

In Your Consciousness, Absolutely Barking Stars and Life Is Sweet end the performance and confirm the feeling that time only endears her more to the captivated admirers in this fair city. Come back soon!!

Review by Paul McGee  Photograph by Vincent Lennon