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Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall, 14 March 2008
There's a feeling tonight that Clannad are a band very much of their time.
Even the picture on the handbill advertising the tour shows the band as
they were at the height of their success. New age pioneers, the emphasis
now is on age. And the set-list was little changed from when I last saw
them in the early 1990s.
With some rather cruel early reviews, the first tour for ten years wended
its way to a finale in Liverpool and it has to be said any early rust had
been eradicated. Opening with the haunting 'New Grange' the core of Moya
and Ciaran Brennan and Noel and Padraig Duggan were bolstered by five
competent and youthful multi-instrumentalists - who feature in Moya
Brennan's touring band - and Ian Parker on keyboards (who featured on
Clannad's later albums).
This was a predictable but welcome trawl through their back catalogue with
the highlights inevitably the 'Last Of The Mohicans' theme 'I Will Find
You', the Robin of Sherwood medley, 'Theme From Harry's Game' and 'In A
Lifetime'. Whilst the latter didn't suffer from the lack of Bono, it did
take two male vocalists to deliver his part.
especially in the extended instrumental sections, the band showed their
mettle with fluid and jazz inflected interplay. Clannad always had a
slightly more ethereal approach than, say, Capercaillie who wrestled their
Celtic fusion torch in the late 1990s, and Moya Brennan's vocals are still
as distinctive as ever.
There's talk of a new album, and hopefully another decade won't lapse
before we see Clannad on stage together again. But when they do, that
handbill photo will need to be radically updated along with their setlist.
Review by David Randall
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