It was 2010 when a debut release arrived on the local scene, spawned by a fledgling group of Irish musicians who wanted to find a place at the table in the music industry. Interesting that in the 8 years that have passed, this ensemble has gone from strength to strength, built a very strong fan base, not only around Ireland, but also in America where much of their current activity takes them on a regular basis. The original members are all still present and the definition of musical family could not be more apt when experiencing the obvious bond that these 5 musicians have on stage together. It also results in the impressively tight playing evident throughout and the craft that is brought to each song by such talented players.
When we first heard that debut release, the hope was that this band could endure and be able to support themselves in the stormy seas of the ever- changing music business. So, it is not only to celebrate their success story that everyone gathers tonight for their annual Christmas concert, but also to show ongoing support for their journey that has taken them forward as one of Ireland’s premier acts on the international stage.
That debut release is also revisited tonight with the tracks, Little Switzerland, Lighthouse Daughter and That Boy’s Not Fair giving every indication that the passing of the years has not dampened down the vibrancy and celebratory tone of their performance and delivery. Much loved favourites, Goldmine and Valentine, are given full vent as the capacity crowd become more and more energised by the onstage performance.
However, it is the latest release, Turn Your Face To The Sun, that rightly gets most focus with seven songs featured and each one a winner… Apocalypso kicked off the set and renditions of Maria, Alveregna, Same Old Dress Will Do, Twin Sisters and the excellent My Portion are all played with enthusiasm and gusto. New songs are also tried out, Grand Canyon and Queen Of The Wasteland, both received well, as are the tunes Pig Pen and Don’t Kiss In My Kitchen.
Dave and Louise Holden have always been at the core of the band’s creative centre with their song writing skills and focus on maintaining a performance quality that continues to improve and match expectations. Dave is a very fine guitar player and his vocals blend seamlessly with sister Louise who continues to provide the focal point and energy of their impressive live performances. She dances with a gay abandon that seems to spur the players to even greater heights of interplay and her vocal delivery is very strong and nuanced. With Konrad Liddy providing the fine rhythmic anchor on upright bass, the sparkling runs of Adrian Hart on fiddle are given full flight with Colin Derham on banjo a willing accomplice as the music builds to the joyful tempos that many of the songs contain.
Special mention was made by Louise of the recent death of our beloved Sandy Harsch. Sandy played a part in helping I Draw Slow achieve media recognition early in their career and the generous applause that greeted Louise’s words was both heart-warming and poignant.
The set finishes with Goldmine with the band returning for an encore that includes Garage Flowers and two superb fiddle tunes that bring the night to a satisfying and thrilling conclusion among the many cheering fans that have turned up to witness what was a special evening of music.
Review by Paul McGee. Photograph by Declan Culliton