Irish Eyes
at the St. Peter's Church,
Ingonish, Cape Breton
(12 October 2006)

"Situated on the other side of Cape Smokey on the beautiful Cabot Trail, the drive alone [to Ingonish] is worth the trip." (Celtic Colours International Festival, 2006 Brochure, pg. 30)

After a very scary drive through fog and rain up the pitch black, slaloming road, and being frightfully aware that a moose could be staring me in the face at any given time along the drive, I finally made it to St. Peter's Church for the Irish Eyes concert. Despite the rain, the crowd size was pretty good. It was a beautiful setting for a Celtic Colours concert, but I have to say that the line-up for the show was a little odd, since it was taking place in a church. It included Irish singer Michael Black, a trio of traditional musicians, Kimberley Fraser, Troy MacGillivray and Nuala Kennedy, and Maritime bar band McGinty.

Michael Black introduced himself and said he felt "right at home because of the rain." He went on to say "Ireland would be perfect if it had a roof over it." Then, he began with an upbeat song that had a good lilt to it, which he got the audience to sing along on for the chorus. "It's a long chorus, worth getting," he explained.

Another song he performed was one that was accompanied only by his own clapping. For this one, he got the audience to "cough" during the chorus. He followed this with a sad-sounding song in Gaelic. Next, he sang "The Perambulator," a song about a stroller that tips over. It was funny because he ended the song by playing "Banish Misfortune" on the banjo.

The last song he performed was "The Parting Glass," also called, "So Here's to You." It was a very appropriate way to end his set, and I heard some singing from the audience, as well. Overall, his performance had a really good mix of songs that portrayed many different moods.

After an introduction from John Ferguson, MacGillivray, Fraser and Kennedy took the stage to give the audience some tunes to tap their toes to. This trio is a wonderful combination of musicians because they have all played and recorded together on Troy's CD, Eleven, and Kimberley's new album, Falling on New Ground, which happened to be released at this very concert.

The first medley they played featured Nuala and Troy on flute and fiddle and it included the popular tune, "Road to Errogie," which they played on Eleven. It was a great way to set the mood for their set and it got the audience clapping.

The second set featured Kimberley and Nuala in a medley of tunes that can be heard on Kimberley's CD. It began with a fiddle solo of "Tullochgorum," and then Nuala joined in on flute for some reels. Other highlights of the performance included a solid and dynamic piano solo by Troy, and a beautiful song called, "The Murloch Shore," sung by Nuala. The song had a bit of a jazz flare to it because of Troy's chording on the piano.

Their last set was "double trouble fiddle," as Nuala put it. It began with a clog and accelerated to some reels, which showed off how well the musicians can play together. They were really tight in their harmonies, as well as some bassing and chopping in the fiddles, and they just looked like they were having fun. The audience was having fun, too. I know this because I was standing under the church balcony and could hear all the feet tapping above me. The set left me wanting more!

After intermission, McGinty was up to play. While I thought this band had great stage presence and they were very humorous, they just didn't do it for me in this setting. McGinty is a bar band and they should be playing somewhere that at least has a canteen. Don't get me wrong -- I appreciate them for what they do, just not here, in a church.

They did do one song that was somewhat fitting for this setting, and it showed their sense of humor really well. It was a parody of the gospel song, "Will the Circle be Unbroken," only it had lyrics by Les Parker, so became "Will the Turtle be Unbroken." It went something like this:

"Will the turtle be unbroken,
By and by, Lord, by and by?"
Lord have Myrtle
As she hurdled
Through the sky, Lord, through the sky...."

This song had the audience clapping and singing along and it got a good laugh at the end.

For the finale of the show, the singers joined together to sing "The Parting Glass." I was shocked because at the end of the song, nobody in the audience clapped! Had I not been writing, I would have clapped for them because they sang it really well.

Lastly, Troy, Nuala and Kimberley played one more rousing blast of tunes, to which, I'm glad to say, the audience DID clap. (Thank goodness!)

by Kaitlin Hahn
13 January 2007