A few too many cooks dilute musical stew
TRANSATLANTIC Sessions, a series of music programmes made for the BBC and RTE, has recently branched out into live performances at prestigious venues such as London's Royal Festival Hall.
On Saturday, Londonderry got a piece of the action in a showcase concert at the fleadh.
The Transatlantic format involves over a dozen top folk and traditional musicians on stage together for the evening.
The talent on display is formidable and there are memorable moments, not least a haunting solo by the young uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson.
Eddi Reader's heartfelt rendition of the Burns air My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose is another highlight, although she earlier squandered a number by rattling through her Fairground Attraction hit Perfect for the umpteenth occasion.
Dublin singer-songwriter Declan O'Rourke also gripped the attention in the plangent, self-penned Galileo.
The evening made a diffuse impression, stellar talents such as Omagh guitarist Arty McGlynn relegated to a mainly accompanying role, and much instrumental detail occluded in the difficult, cave-like acoustic of The Venue.
With so many players from different traditions performing simultaneously, the music veered towards relative anonymity stylistically, pungent source ingredients diluted in favour of artistic democracy.
Occasionally performances did strike sparks across the footlights – John McCusker's fizzing set of fiddle tunes, for instance – but fewer cooks would probably have made the broth taste stronger.