FolkWorld Live Review by Adolf "gorhand" Goriup
September 17th to 19th the town of Delémont organized the third edition of "Notes d'Equinoxe", a festival dedicated to traditional world music. This year's opening on Friday night was dedicated to Ireland and featured two brilliant sets of Irish music. Elandir, a Swiss based group, opened the night with their set at 8.30 pm and were followed by Ireland's well known instrumental line-up Lunasa.
Elandir started with an exciting set of jigs that allowed the musicians to show their talent. Gilles Clavel on bodhràn, mandolin and vocals was accompanied by his four fellow musicians from Neuchâtel and Yverdon, Raphael Combremont on bouzouki, Vanessa Lorkens on fiddle and vocals, Christophe Paulon on mandola, Johan Perritaz on flute and vocals and the Irish piper Brendan Wade, who played tin and low whistle as well. Elandir played a mixture of excellent instrumental sets like jigs, reels, polkas, strathspeys and beautiful Irish songs, interpreted either by Gilles or Vanessa. No matter if you listen to their traditional tunes or songs Brendan Wade certainly is the main force of this band. His uileann pipes as well as his tin and low whistling are inspired. Nevertheless I have to render prominent the high musical quality of this young Swiss Irish band. Vanessa is a very gifted fiddler who has a beautiful voice as well and you can feel her love to music when she plays the fiddle with passion and skill. The two string instrumentalists, Raphael and Christophe are playing the most stunning rhythms and together with Gilles' bodhràn they really make you feel the rhythm - unfortunately there was no space to dance. And last but not least Johan, the talented flute player, who played some wonderful duets with Christophe.
After a short break Lunasa came on stage. They are Kevin Crawford on flutes, whistles and bodhrán, Donogh Hennessy on guitars, Trevor Hutchinson on double bass, Sean Smyth on fiddle and whistles and Cillian Vallely on uilleann pipes and whistles. Touring England right now Lunasa came for a single gig to the continent, their first gig in Switzerland, and the audience, well prepared by Elandir's music, went wild as soon as they played the first times. After the first set of reels, The Wedding Set, Kevin Crawford thus thanked the excellent Swiss Irish band Elandir for their wonderful set and everybody agreed and gave them a big hand. Then it was Lunasa time. Some of the finest musicians of Ireland got together in one band, playing the most striking tunes and airs with breathtaking musical skill. Kevin Crawford is a splendid flute and whistle player and when he's accompanied by Sean Smyth and Cillian Vallely on whistles, you can hear the most beautiful airs you can imagine (Pauline Scanlon). Sean Smyth's terrific fiddle playing and Cillian's fantastic piping enhance Lunasa's brilliant sound from the first times of the Wedding Set to Michael Mc Goldrick's Windbroke or Bulgarian Rock, a tune from their last CD, The Kinnitty Sessions. Cillian also played an exceptional uilleann pipes solo performance on the Wounded Hussar. Donogh Hennessy adds a couple of outstanding tunes to Lunasa's repertoire (amongst others the hauntingly beautiful waltz Pauline Scanlon) and his guitar playing is tremendous. Thanks to his splendid rhythm guitar and Trevor Hutchinson's driving bass lines Lunasa don't need any rhythm section at all. Kevin only added his grand bodhràn playing on one track, starting the dance tune with a superb solo. Even though Lunasa is an All Irish band they played a wonderful set of Galitian/Asturian tunes. Casu, a slow tune, was followed by a Galitian pipe march written by Carlos Nunez and an Asturian dance tune, a Maniera. Kevin and Cillian left the stage for one track to the, according to Kevin's announcement, mediocre Sean Smyth Band featuring Sean on fiddle, Donogh on guitar and Trevor on double base. Three guys making an unbelievable sound, Kevin's words were probably the biggest understatement the folk music scene has ever heard. After about one hour and a half Lunasa played the encore, a tune called The Last Pint, and the audience left the hall after a tremendous round of applause to buy the whole lot of Lunasa CDs that were available.
Photo Credit: Lunasa in Tonder 2004, photo by The Mollis.
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