Review: Dervish at the Lichfield Guildhall

The traditional Irish band Dervish called into play for an appreciative Lichfield audience when they appeared at the Guildhall as part of their national tour.



Having played at the venue before, their driving, acoustic music was a fine complement to the grandeur and acoustic purity of the room, with each instrument and vocal note being clearly heard.

The six piece band are Brian McDonagh on mandola and mandolin, flute and whistle player Liam Kelly, fiddle player Tom Morrow, Shane Mitchell on accordion, Cathy Jordan on vocals, bodhrán and bones and bouzouki player Michael Holmes.

Much of the set consisted of music from their most recent and 11th album, The Thrush In The Storm.

The ensemble started of with Heading Home, a spirited instrumental with a dynamic force provided by bodhran and mandola. Snoring Biddy was a ballad about laziness, while The Lover’s Talking was a sweetly sung story ballad.

Handsome Polly O was a traditional folk song that was very well played and sung, before the first set was closed by the stomping beat and dynamic interplay of The Thrush in the Storm.

In the second set differing moods were achieved. The Rolling Wave was a showcase for the aching and melancholic fiddle playing of Tom Morrow against a well played accordion drone.

The Coolea Jigs was a showcase in dynamic building and allowed for some note perfect ensemble playing. The rhythm section of mandola, bodhran and bouzouki provided a solid foundation for the melodic interplay of the accordian, fiddle and whistles.

Singer Cathy Jordan is seen as one of the best vocalists in traditional Irish music and this facet of the group’s repertoire was shown to best advantage in the slower ballads and in the accapella number that was the first encore.

The final number was a barn-storming reading of Out on The Road.

After more than 25 years together, 11 albums and many national and international tours, their longevity is testament to the popularity of this Irish band and the quality of their musicianship as a live draw.