Live: Temple Bar Trad: T with the Maggies
Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Moya Brennan and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
Button Factory, Dublin
31 January 2009
Engaging eminent musicians alongside bright young stars, the 2009 Temple Bar Tradfest hoped cross-pollination would occur naturally, musicians and devotees gathered together, inspiring and being inspired. In the words of this year’s festival patron, the actor Stephen Rea, this dedication to collaboration and innovation would ‘infuriate the few as it delights the many.’ In this spirit, T with the Maggies presented the possibility of something very exciting, if not entirely new, unfolding before our eyes.
T with the Maggies, four artists that originally came together at a memorial concert for Mícheál Ó Dómhnaill in 2007, comprises the grandes dames of traditional Irish music over the last forty years: Maighréad and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill (Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan) and Moya Brennan (Clannad). In this, their second ever performance, they played a series of favourites from their recorded past, and, though the absence of original material frustrated initially, the effervescence of the personalities on stage, and the sense of respect and sisterhood displayed had won me over by the second half.
Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill led the beginning of the concert with ‘Óró Grá mo Chroí’, each singer taking a verse and occasionally filling in with raw, simple harmonies. There is no unity of sound, but nor need there be – the intensity of delivery is uniformly stunning. By the middle of the first half, Moya Brennan dominated. Her performance of ‘The Green Fields’ showed that she has lost nothing of the beauty that blows so easily through her haunting voice. The instrumental element of the concert was exemplified by ‘Eleanor Plunkett’ and ‘Sláinte na mBan’, combining Brennan’s harping with Ní Mhaonaigh’s rhythmic fiddling.
Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill’s solo opening of the second half, ‘The Joy Bell’, was a long moment of quiet delight. A new, more relaxed mood had arrived, highlighted by Ní Mhaonaigh’s intoxicating ‘Dobbin’s Flowery Vale’, and followed by the humorous set of ‘Gathering Mushrooms’, ‘Cad É Sin don Té Sin’ and ‘The Two Sisters’.
I am told a T with the Maggies album is coming, and, while playing the old favourites surely pleases the crowd, one would hope to see some new material sprouting from this collaboration.
Published on 1 April 2009