Monday, June 13, 2005

Shows: Gaelic Storm

I don't go to shows as much as I used to. The ideal show for me is unamplified or at least not uncomfortably loud, and promoters of live shows don't seem to share my taste. It's unfortunate to pay $15 for a show and have to listen through earplugs.

But with my family out of town for a week I found my way out to see Gaelic Storm a few days ago, and I'm glad I did. The band put on a first-class show, both in terms of music and engaging the audience. It threatened to descend unrecoverably into silliness as they covered their own song Johnny Tarr in the styles of Eminem and Led Zepplin, but let's just say that the crowd was sufficiently lubricated to appreciate the antics at that point. And when they returned to Irish sounds they proved they had lost none of their momentum in the intermission.

Pete Purvis, who started the show playing tin whistle, ran into a series of technical issues at first. The sound man had him way too low in the mix, and it was very difficult to hear him playing. He then tried to switch to electronic pipes, which didn't work at all. Moving on to the uilleann pipes, he again was shortchanged in the mix. Finally, he switched to the GHBs.

That took care of the volume problem...

And at that point everyone else on the stage could have just stopped playing and I don't think I would have noticed. He just blew me away! The man is the best highlands piper I have ever seen perform live (though I reserve the right to change this opinion after I see the Tannahill Weavers at the Dublin Irish Festival in August). It was an amazing performance, and I wish he had played the pipes on more than two songs.

Another standout performer was Ohioan fiddler Ellery Klein. During the show I was chatting with Deborah Clark Colón from the local duo Changeling, a high school friend of Ms. Klein's who told me that she (Ms. Klein) had polished her fiddling while finishing a masters in Irish music performance at the University of Limerick.

Opening band the Bogtrodders, a self-described "plague on sobriety," played a set consisting mainly of songs relating to their favorite pastime.

Miscellaneous links of somewhat related interest:


mandragora said...

Mmmm, yes. Live shows do find themselves at the mercy of the sound techs a bit, huh? What's a cran? I probably use them, but I don't know the word.
Highland bagpipes good, especially en masse. Inside. I used to be in a pipe-band, and if the weather was really bad, we'd practise indoors. A touch loud, even for me! It seems, from your comment, that you play pipes?

Craig said...

A cran is a kind of ornamentation borrowed from piping. This Chiff and Fipple discussion has a good description.

I don't play pipes yet, but I'd like to learn. I have a practice GHB chanter, which I fiddle with when I'm not whistling. For some reason I prefer the GHB over the Uilleann pipes, despite the former's limitations; I just like the sound. Or maybe I just want to annoy my neighbors.

mandragora said...

A worthy ambition, and one reason I took up the pipes myself. More precisely, one can intimidate the neighbour's dog...