The people who packed Ó Riada’s Bar and Restaurant on Friday night for the Sharon Shannon / Alan Connor concert were treated to a night of ripping music.
Ticket sales had been going well all week and a good crowd was expected to welcome the duo on their fourth annual trip down to the Ballymacelligott venue.
There was also a brisk trade in ‘at the door’ sales as the time rolled on and the anticipation mounted.
Open Sky Opened
The support band on the night went under the appropriate title of Open Sky as the sky outside was indeed opening.
Proinnsias O’Sullivan, Castleisland, Pat Pierse and John Hurley from Tralee have only recently combined their very considerable talents and have found a sound – as it were.
Indeed, they did their own bit of roof raising with their harmonies. An eclectic mix of classics both modern and mature, beautifully, intentionally strayed across several musical genres and their songs were backed by superb musicianship from the trio.
Tralee based artist, John Hurley’s song writing and guitar solos were a joy to behold.
Only recently Formed
Many people wondered aloud where they actually play and it wasn’t until afterwards that I discovered that they have only recently formed.
They will be playing locally and can be contacted on 086 85 12 673 for bookings and other information.
There is nothing left to say about Sharon Shannon that hasn’t been said so many times before. None of the words or phrases of praise seem adequate in describing her pure dedication and love for the music with which she so artistically, lovingly and poetically spoils her audiences.
There is a frightful genuineness about her that you don’t expect to find in the kind of world renowned artist which she undoubtedly is.
Three Reels from Peter Browne
Her trademark smile is one hundred percent genuine. The only time it was suppressed on Friday night was when she played three reels on the whistle that she got from Peter Browne, piper and RTÉ Radio One presenter. And you can’t be whistling and chewing meal – as the old saying goes.
Sitting across from her musical partner, Alan Connor their combined musicality reached outrageous limits at times and whoops from the audience and the appreciation at tune’s end told its own tale.
There was also more that a share of interaction with that audience as members were inveigled onto the square of floor in front of the stage to dance – and it wasn’t all to a set.
Guest Corina Carrick
Guest singer, Corina Carrick was invited onto the stage and she sang a dozen or more women onto the floor with her version of the Tina Turner song Rolling – on the River.
A little while later the Ballymac highlight of the night arrived when Sharon invited man-of-the-house, John Reidy up with his box to join her for a couple of tunes.
Under pressure, John did as he was told and knuckled down to the task. They played two tunes: Shoe the Donkey and The Blackbird.
The first has a special significance for John as he and his late father Denis used to play it together and the latter is, of course, one of Sharon’s most famous tunes.
John’s Significant Moment
John fully realised the significance of the moment he was living in for the short space of time he shared the same stage as two of the world’s greatest.
Being congratulated afterwards, he said ‘I did it anyway’ – and with the air of a man who had been somewhere his neighbours would want him to tell them about.
He had a houseful of witnesses and many of them with mobile phones held the wrong way up but capturing the essence of the moment nonetheless.
There was only one other artistic interlude after that and it came in the form of the nimble Mary Lawless – who did a very impromptu, unrehearsed but beautiful dance.
Prompted by her habit of doing that class of thing anyway, it also summed up the feelings of the audience on an evening of the kind of pure, magical performances we knew we had been lucky to feel, hear and see.
Pulling the Corners Together
For the work she put into pulling all the corners together, Mary Jones was praised publicly from the stage and privately from around the floor.
The floor was then crammed with dancers – mostly women – and jivers went to town on the music from the most famous exponents they’re ever likely to dance to.
The vibes were very positive and all agreed that they had witnessed a night of sheer quality from start to finish.
And Sharon slipped away into the night towards Dublin as an engagement around Shane McGowan’s birthday demanded a couple of days rehearsal beginning at 10am the following morning.
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