There’s an air of expectation hanging in the air in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall tonight. A very mixed audience crossing generations and musical genres has gathered all for the sole purpose of being entertained by Irish Folk alumni Clannad. The band last played the venue on Saint Patrick’s Day 2013 alongside the Ulster Orchestra. Tonight, however it’s just them showcasing old and new material alike.
‘I will Find You’ from the movie ‘Last of the Mohicans’ opens the show and is an instant audience pleaser. New material features prominently in the set list too. ‘Vellum’ and ‘Rhapsody Na gCrann’ appear early in the set list and work well live as the layered harmonies fill the room. We settle back in our seat as we know early on that we are going to enjoy this show. ‘Trans Atlantic’ sounds great live and ‘Brave Enough’, despite some minor guitar issues and sadly lacking Duke Special on vocals tonight proves to be another popular one with the audience.
We get slightly emotional when they announce the old classic ‘Down By The Sally Gardens’. Not played much on this tour, tonight it features only Moya’s haunting voice, guitar and whistle. The stripped back version is sublime. This has long been one of our favourite Clannad songs and we love every minute of it.
A re-arranged and expanded ‘Robin of Sherwood Medley’ is beyond spine tingling and gets the second biggest audience response of the evening. That accolade that goes to ‘Theme from Harry’s Game’ which is mildly surprising considering both TV shows aired over thirty years ago, yet the songs have stuck firmly in the minds of audiences around the world and it is also testament to the creativity and longevity of the music commissioned for both series. During the ‘Robin of Sherwood’ medley we get re-tweeted by Hollywood based actor Mark Ryan who played the character Nasir in the show and our fan boy trip is complete.
(Around this point the Folk & Tumble editor sends directions to the hostelry where’s he ensconced for the evening and after the gig we make our way round and gush about this re-tweet a lot)
Ultimately it is the older material that wins out tonight ‘In a Lifetime’ (minus Bono thankfully), ‘Closer To Your Heart’, ‘Newgrange’ and an extended ‘Dulaman’ featuring bass and drum solos and a very clever false ending round of an evening of music that sees the band brew up a mix of New Age Jazz inspired folk music.