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Colchester Arts Centre
Thursday 5th October 2017
Here we go again, how could anyone be bored with this job?, back at the very welcoming Arts Centre in Colchester to see the delightful Sharon Shannon and her merry band of cohorts. Not expecting the earth to move or the woods to be set on fire or whatever cliché you care to insert, for Ms Shannon is, arguably, Ireland’s most famous, living, traditional musician and a master of the accordeon to boot, so the evening should be exactly as imagined.
However, if you take into account the fact that this lady has been a Waterboy, has recorded with reggae and ska legends as well as with Americana super hero Steve Earle, the pigeons cannot be, so easily, holed and that is a good thing, variety being the spice of life and all that.
Enough waffle, the four musicians take to the stage and break into three tracks from her latest album “Sacred Earth”, the last of which, the title track, featured rock band electric guitar from Jack Maher. Then a complete change of pace as we go all posh with a waltz from “The Merry Widow” which features Sean Regan on, a very plaintive, fiddle. More reels, jigs and jolly tunes , beautifully executed, before Jack Maher sings us all a song – Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright” which, I always think is taken much too fast and this outing did nothing to change my mind. To finish up the first half the exquisite slow air “The Lament for Limerick” and some astonishingly bonkers reels from the pen of Phil Cunningham.
What happened in the second half, more of the same but different, for a start Sharon found her whistle, not a euphemism, and gave a gorgeous rendition of “Raithlin Island“, Jim Murray serenaded the masses with a glorious “Cape Clear” on the acoustic guitar which was, predictably, followed by a rumbustious take no prisoners “Frenchie’s Reel”.
More reels, jigs and jolly tunes, beautifully executed, and then time for the closing tune Michael McGoldrick’s “James Brown’s March” during which we had some beat boxing from Sean Regan which involved pulling some rather alarming faces, I began to think shaving may be more fun, and somehow morphed into the famous bit of “Smoke on the Water” and, presumably, the audience applause was for not playing the rest of it.
Encore time, there is a rather famous song called “Galway Girl“, not the one from Framlingham but the rather better one that came from a collaboration between the aforementioned Earle and Shannon, unsurprisingly the audience knew every word and did their best to prove it. As community singing is not my thing I was delighted that the song moved seamlessly into the tune “Music for a Found Harmonium” which has, arguably, become a standard of the folk music repertoire during my lifetime, and a welcome addition it is.
So there we are, the dark night beckons – A Sharon Shannon concert does do just what it says on the tin, only think the widest possible tin you can and then some more. Enjoyed it enormously come back soon.