Ulster Hall, Belfast
Sunday 17th December 2017

“It’s coming on Christmas”, Joni Mitchell once said.

Cara Dillon brought her ‘Upon A Winter’s Night’ show to Belfast at the end of a fourteen-night tour. It’s a Christmas show as was clear even upon entering the hall. The stage was set with four white Christmas trees, a sparkling array of tasteful festive lights and a hint of dry ice snow or mist in the air.

Cara Dillon

Bang on the stroke of eight o clock the band took to the stage closely followed by Cara. The band clad all in black and Cara in white including a hood. It’s coming on Christmas after all.

A couple of things were clear from the start and remained constant throughout. Cara Dillon can sing, she is comfortable on stage and can handle a venue as large and potentially difficult as the Ulster Hall. The band can play and are in top form. The sound is really excellent, clear vocals and lovely mix with the instruments.

Highlights of the first set included ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’, ‘The Wexford Carol’, the self-penned ‘Mother Mary’, and the title song of the album ‘Upon A Winter’s Night’.

Cara Dillon

All beautifully delivered and accompanied by the band who Cara informed us she has named the Frosty Nights or possibly Knights. One instrumental, ‘The Huntsman’ written by husband, producer, musical director, pianist and guitar player Sam Lakeman stood out.

Alongside Sam in the band were Luke Daniels on accordion, Niall Murphy on fiddle, and Ed Boyd on guitar. Excellent throughout.

Cara Dillon

After an interval, more songs that Cara described as capturing the reverence of Christmas such as ‘The Holly And The Ivy’. Alongside these were some interesting covers including The Pretenders’ ‘Two Thousand Miles’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’, it’s coming on Christmas after all and time to sing songs of joy and peace.

A two-song encore was followed by a standing ovation from the crowd. Who could argue with that? Not even the most cynical of seasonal scrooges.