(L-r_ Donogh Hennessey, Pauline Scanlon, John McSherry, Pádraig Rynne


What makes An Droichead on the Ormeau Road so special as a music venue?

Firstly, it’s the welcome you get there. The An Droichead bunch are amongst the friendliest you’ll get at any venue in Ireland. Take a bow, Jim, Claire and of course, Úna.

Secondly, it’s BYO. It’s nice – and cheap – to bring your own drink with you, whether it’s 3 for a tenner or one straight from your own cellar, a bottle of Bud or if you choose, a Britvic 55.

Thirdly, it’s the atmosphere. The venue isn’t really suited to music concerts but it works wonderfully well as an intimate space where audience and performers can really relate to each other.

Last, although it should be first, there is the music. An Droichead has an enviable reputation for brining the best of Irish traditional music and singing to the Ormeau Road and last Saturfday was no exception.

Individually John McSherry, Pádraig Rynne, Donogh Hennessey and singer Pauline Scanlon are the best there is while they proved collectively they prove how life-affirming traditional music and song can be.

Belfast piper John McSherry and guitarist Donogh Hennessey are old friends from their Lúnasa days together of course and the boys revisited some of the Lúnasa repertoire with reels and jigs that took the breath away. The third part of the musical trinity was master concertina player Pádraig Rynne, now best known for playing with Guidewires. Expressive or driving as the mood dictated, the concertina was perfectly in harmony with John McSherry’s pipes and low whistle.

John and the band – on this their fist time playing as a trio – played some of John’s own compositions from the Soma and At First Light albums while Donogh’s guitar playing too glided from the percussive to the lyrical depending on the tune and especially when he accompanied Pauline Scanlon’s singing.

I love Pauline’s voice and the way she inhabits a song, be it trad in English or Irish, folk or contemporary, with the ould standard The Foggy Dew going down a treat with the full house on Saturday night.

Also mentioned in dispatches should be the lovely set by Brendan Hendry and former Cat Malojian guitarist, Jonny Toman who opened the night up.  Watch out for their album when it comes out later this year.

So another great night at An Droichead.

Next up is Cran – Sean Corcoran, Ronan Browne and Dezi Wilkinson – on March 9. Get your tickets early.

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