La Dolce Vita. Life is sweet. Despite their short lifespan, I’ve probably seen Lumiere – Pauline Scanlon and Éilís Kennedy – more often than most other acts. The simple reason is that the duo make you realise that the simplest things are often the best.
Two stunning voices joined together in holy matrimony by Apollo, the God of Music, with the songs of their native Kerry and a few blowy-ins as a dowry.
The songs from their eponymous debut album are all jewels on the same crown with not a weak link from start to finish and the packed audience at the John Hewitt on Sunday afternoon at 3pm – an unusually successful time for a gig – heard the cream of the crop.
It would be hard to pick out a highlight – apart from the seismic smack Pauline hit Donogh with after an unscripted aside! – but I swear, as soon as the girls started singing the absolutely gorgeous Fair and Tender Ladies, the sun started to shine through the stained glass windows of the Hewitt. Somebody up there likes Lumiere too.
The West’s Awake, Fill, Fill a Rún Ó, Edward on Lough Erne’s Shore, An Maidrín Rua – oh, every song was sung to perfection and for a beautiful finale, it was great to hear the audience sing a long to the delightful Oró mo Bháidín.
While we’ve heard these songs many times before, it was an eye-opener (an ear-opener) to hear Éilís’ version of Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes.
That’s just what the audience thought as the gig drew to a close.
It’s time now to pay tribute to Donogh Hennessey, formerly of Lúnasa, who left the band because of the travelling but also to play music with maybe less of a polish but more musically interesting. There’s no doubt the big Dublin-born guitarist lives and breathes music and his accompaniment of Pauline’s whispering soprano and Éilís’ lyricality was pitch perfect.
Tomorrow the girls head to London to start recording their second album. I, and many others, can’t wait.
Fair play to the band, the Hewitt and the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival for a memorble Sunday afternoon in Belfast.