Friday, March 15, 2013

Review:Tir Na Nog. Rondo Theatre Bath,14/3/2013.

I have always liked the name Tir Na Nog ever since i first heard it mentioned back in the mists of time in the early seventies.It is a mystical land of eternal youth somewhere off the coast of Ireland.It is famous for the love story of Oisin the warrior and Niamh of the golden hair.It is also the title of a song on one of Van Morrison's best albums.It is also the name of a brilliant Irish duo of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly.That is what i want to tell you about today.
    I had heard of them before but never really listened to the music but it was my friend Smithy who introduced me to them.He plays the guitar and sings a bit.He left a guitar at my house ages ago and Kim used to like listening to him singing.One of the songs he sings is called 'Time Is Like A Promise'."Who is that by?",i asked him."Tir Na Nog", he replied.This aroused my curiousity and i looked them up on youtube.I decided to buy an album and bought their first eponymous album originally released in 1971 but re-released recently on the Esoteric label with extra bonus tracks.I really liked the album so when i heard they were playing in Bath i decided we should go and see them.
Smithy called for me at 5.30 and we set off.We stopped in Bradford On Avon for some fish and chips at that chippie near the railway station which was really nice but i didn't realise that if you sat in the restaurant part it doubled the price.Nevermind,it was quite lucky though because i met an old friend Jean in there who gave us directions to the Rondo Theatre otherwise i think we would have got lost.Anyway we got to Bath in about half an hour and found the theatre quite easily thanks to Jean.It is in St Saviours Road just off the London Road.We were early so we went in the nearby Larkhall Inn which is a really interesting pub and Smithy watched me skull down two pints.Then we went to the theatre.It is a tiny little place which i think used to be a church hall but somebody bought it and converted it into an intimate little venue which is ideal for this type of concert."I think i'll have a glass of wine", i said to Smithy."You can't have one because you're driving".We were seated in the very front row.
The support act was a young guy called Mike Boyd who sang his own songs and played the guitar.I thought he was really good.Emily and Broken Boats were two songs i thought were very impressive.Later on we met at the bar and had a bit of a chat and Smithy took our photo.I used to despair of the music being produced these days but i think the music of the likes of Mumford And Sons,Ed Sheehan, Laura Marling,Jake Bugg etc show there is a very healthy music scene amongst the British youth these days and Mike Boyd is another to add to the list so check him out.He goes by the stage name of 'Sword In Air' and has an EP available.I think we will hear a lot more of him.
                                   Then Tir Na Nog took the stage. The opening song they did was 'Time Is Like A Promise' the song that introduced them to me.It was great to hear it live.Songs off the first album figured quite a lot in the first half of their set.I didn't write down the set list because we were sitting right in front of them and i thought it might distract them so i can't remember all the songs they did.Sonny sang a really nice new song called The Raven.Sonny sings and plays guitar and a drum and Leo plays guitar and violin and has a whole battery of foot pedals for effects and also a drum machine.The sound the two of them produce is awesome.Sonny seems to be the more serious of the two and Leo is more the showman,he still has a good head of hair for an old hippy.I wish i did!.They finished the first set with Aberdeen Angus off the album i have.
During the interval i went outside for a smoke and i was talking to this nice Irish lady from Galway who is a huge fan of Tir Na Nog and has seen them lots of times.She said they are unique and i must agree.Although they are Irish,I think they met up in Carlow they are nothing like you usually expect from an Irish group.Nobody else sounds like them.If anything i would say they are a bit like the psycedelic folk of British bands such as The Incredible String Band.The lady also told me that they had split up for decades and had only started playing together again in the last few years.I don't know why they fell out but seems a shame because they definitely compliment each other and are much more than the sum of two individuals.
Anyway,after the chat with the Galway girl i went back inside for the second half.I was quite pished by then so i can't remember much about it.I do remember a great song called 'Venezuala'which is brand new.I was really impressed with that one.The highlight of the whole evening though for me was their version of 'Love Sick' by Bob Dylan.It was amazing.We had to leave shortly after that to get home in time for last ordersIt was only fair that Smithy should have a pint..
                                                                  We got in the car and i slammed some John Prine in the CD player.The engine roared and Smithy gunned that sucker down the highway to Westbury.We were home in about 30 minutes which must be some kind of a record and Jacquie the landlady had two pints of Stowford cider waiting.I finally fell into bed at about 1.00 tired but happy.Thank you Rondo Theatre, Tir Na Nog and Mike Boyd for a great night out..

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