Transatlantic Sessions – Birmingham Symphony Hall 5th February 2010
OK – without further ado, let me just name the line-up for this gig –
Phil Cunningham MBE
Aly Bain MBE
….pretty impressive stuff – based on the popular TV series and a concert idea that began at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, programme/musical organisers Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas put together this stunning line-up for a week’s tour of large concert halls around the UK – the Symphony Hall in Birmingham is one of a new breed of acoustically designed but visually sterile buildings that usually cater for the more cerebral concert-goer.
Venue aside – this is music that has evolved out of – and probably is best heard in smaller spaces – this was a musical delight as you’d expect from the list of names above. The cross-pollination of American/British Isles traditional music is very difficult, at times to separate; put, say Michael McGoldrick’s flute or pipes into an Appalachian song and its older origins are once more revealed. A thoughtful set-list that combined old, new, British, American, original and traditional never flagged . Highlights for me were all the female vocalists – I’d not heard Mollie O’Brien live and she was a revelation that’s going to wipe out my Emusic credits for the next couple of months. Cara Dillon’s atmospheric vocal Irishness created the kind of awed, hushed silence in an audience that only great performances can do.
So many highlights – Tim O’Brien being…well, Tim O’Brien – Phil Cunningham and Russ Barenberg demonstrating musical telepathy, Dan Tyminski bringing the house down with “A man of constant sorrow” and “Wild Bill Jones”….wonderful stuff.
The pictures from this were taken from the top balcony with a Canon G11 and a cheap Japanese 2.5x teleconverter that I sneaked in, in my coat – it was one of those non-camera friendly venues, so this was the best I could do! (That will mean little to those of you who know little about cameras, but to translate, it was tricky to get anything like good pictures from where I was on the top, vertigo-inducing balcony….)
If this tour ever gets to the USA, make sure you get in the queue for tickets…..