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Pacific Road, Birkenhead 23 March 2007

I've been in possession of Moya Brennan's Signature CD for about two weeks or so now, and I've absolutely hammered it. And, boy, I was more ready for this concert than a footie fan is for Wembley cup final.

At the rear of the stage at Pacific Road Arts Centre is a tram museum. Black drapes just about hide the audience's view from these relics of yesteryear. To further assist the optical protection, there is a constant stream of dry ice and the artistes enter the stage like they do on Stars In Your Eyes.

This was no tribute act though, Moya, (vocals, harp & shaker) and her 7 piece band were about to take us from these mists of the ‘Pacific', across the Irish Sea to drop us on the other side of the Wicklow Mountains into the fields of the 32 counties and 40 shades of green.

Such is the mystical power of the music of Moya Brennan. Moya's voice has the purity of Waterford Crystal and her songs are simply mesmeric. From the first song onwards the optical view of the band is overwritten by images from the mind's eye and you just float away.

I didn't take note of the setlist, but the show lasted for around 2hrs plus a 20 minute interval. The essential content was a plentiful supply of songs from her latest album, Signature, with some favourites from Clannad. There were also a couple of instrumental medleys of jigs and reels which saw Moya on the harp.

Irish jigs and reels are interesting enough with a conventional set of instruments, but when you include 2 harps, Uillean pipes and the obligatory fiddle within this array. then your ears are in for a bit of exercise.

Tapestry (Moya's Signature) and New Grange (Clannad's Lore & others) opened the show before Moya conversed. She was pleased to be back on Merseyside and felt almost shocked that it was several years since she last appeared over in Liverpool. The mere fact that that the venue was just about sold out proved out the proverb about absence and the heart.

Old favourites form the Clannad days include Robin the Hooded Man, Theme From Harry's Game and In A Lifetime. The Signature CD was well represented, although the album wasn't available at the CD table.

Two hours just whistled by, and as she came to introduce the last song, Gone Are The Days, Moya explained that Signature is a snapshot of her life and that particular song reflected on her younger times. Judging by her looks and her voice, the fountains of youth are still flowing.

Moya returned for the encore which closed with an old Irish fighting song, Against the Wind, featuring some fantastic drumming by Paul Byrne. Golden uplights on the drumkit make for a spectacular finale.

At the end of the show I added a couple of CDs to my collection, one being her Christmas album (shop early !) and her debut solo album , Maire (RCA 1993). This album features her sisters, Dee, Bridin and Olive and it's well worth a listen just for the natural sibling harmonies from the Irish equivalent of the Von Trapp family !

Moya's Band :

Moya Brennan - Lead Vocals, Harp, Shaker & Bones
Paul Byrne - percussion
Fionan De Barra - Guitars, Vocals
Sinead Madden - Fiddle, (perfectly matched)Vocals
Sam Jackson - Keyboards
Eamonn Galldubh - Uillleann Pipes, Saxaphone, Clarinet Yoshinobi Izumi - Electric Bass (left handed), Vocals
Cormac De Barra - Electric Harp, Vocals

Review by Graham Ashmore

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