Higgins welcomes The Gloaming ‘home’ to NCH

Michael D Higgins welcomed trad fusion supergroup The Gloaming “home” as they returned to the National Concert Hall in Dublin for their spring residency.

The five-piece said it was a privilege to entertain the president on the opening night of the week-long run.

The Irish-American band, comprising Martin Hayes, Iarla O Lionaird, Thomas Bartlett, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Dennis Cahill, played their first ever show at Earlsfort Terrace.

Monday evening featured new takes on the keening laments of the bereaved and the poetry of loss.

It alternated with experimental “randomised electronics” as well as Hayes’ calling-card style on violin.

Co Clare’s Hayes told the Dublin audience: “Thank you for connecting with us. We sit around and play and nothing happens until you get here.”

Their lyrical poetry, as gaeilge, stretched from 1609 and the flight of chieftain Hugh O’Neill after the Battle of Kinsale to the 20th century.

Pianist Bartlett warmed up for the gig with wine in his nearby lodgings and finished it with a half-drunk bottle of red in one hand and an empty glass in the other.

His hands crawled spider-like over the keys, at times jerking his fingers on and off the ivories as if they were scalding hot.

He bent over until his face was almost touching the notes, feet stamping energetically along, and admitted the experience should never be a routine one.

“I try to imagine myself a 12-year-old,” said Bartlett.

“If someone had said to me lots of years from now, 25 years from now, your childhood hero called and asked you to start a band with him and once a year you will get to play in the most beautiful hall and the president always comes.

“It does not seem routine actually.

“What an absolute privilege, delight and honour it is to be here.”

Much of the set focused on newer tracks, with the exception of pieces like Rolling Wave.

On a wet and dark evening Samhradh, Samhradh heralded summer.

Singer O Lionaird said: “It is an extraordinary privilege to be here to be honest.

“It is wonderful to be here, it is extraordinary for us.

“It is hard to explain and understand. When we walk on stage everything feels so homely and so nice for us, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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