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Review: Michael McGoldrick Band @ Lichfield Guildhall

A large crowd of music fans turned out to hear the Michael McGoldrick band when the talented woodwind player and composer appeared at Lichfield Guildhall.

Best known for his work with the popular groundbreaking Gaelic band Capercaillie and a musician for hire for everyone from Mark Knopfler and John Cale to Youssou N’Dour, the whistle/uillean pipe and low whistle player brought his latest venture to play at the intimate Guildhall.

McGoldrick is often regarded as one of the finest flute and whistle players currently active, and although his fleet fingered playing style adds many ornamentations from Irish, Scottish and Appalachian music, the pieces he writes have a much more catholic approach, appropriating styles and sounds from many other genres.

Assisted by fiddle and low whistle player Colin Farrell, Bodhran and bouzouki player Paddy Kerr and Dermot Byrne on guitar, they played a spirited two hour set of their own music, most of which was taken from the recent Aurora album.

The album features a cast of many players, instruments and moods, so many of the tunes featured simplified arrangements, allowing the music space to breath. Unison patterns on violin and whistles were accompanied by spirited guitar and bodhran playing, whilst the bouzouki added counter-melodies to much of the music, as well as its more traditional supportive role.

Pieces such as Freefalling with its upbeat themes and playing contrasted strongly with the slower Stone of Destiny, while Mickey’s Reels contained both delicate playing from  the band leader and a more raucous backing from his side-men.

A duet for low whistle-playing was both touching and up-lifting, whilst Baltimore Beginners and the closing Water-bound showed that the future of tradition based, but forward looking music is in very safe hands.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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