Maura OConnell & Friends
Glor Theatre, Ennis
Friday July 3rd
Five stars *****
A powerfully stirring affair ... a decisive triumph!
A palpable warm glow emanated at the finale of a remarkable gig that featured local girl Maura O'Connell and a host of her musical friends and family. Throngs in the capacity crowd beamed with delight as the folk diva confidently delivered an assured set from her back catalogue, aided and abetted by a stellar cast of local and international accomplices.
Divided into two seventy-five minutes sets, the show, after an opening by OConnell and her Nashville based sidekicks John Mock (guitar) and Don Johnson (bass), featured a nostalgic duet with Mike Hanrahan, recalling O'Connell's embryonic steps as a performer three decades ago. Others guests on this magical tribute included Altan's Ciaran Tourish, Martin Staunton, Stephen Flaherty, Marie O'Byrne, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey.
Giving the faithful plenty to rally around, a twosome with Charlie McGettigan (another important support player during her early career) on Feet of A Dancer, set the ball rolling. Tim OBrien's sparkling mandolin and rock solid vocal particularly on The Blacksmith added to the spice and variety of the show. Whether in a solo capacity or in tandem with the likes of the legendary John Prine or Declan ORourke, OConnell's magnificent pipes soared and glided effortlessly, through powerful versions of classics like Trouble in The Fields, Summerfly, and the sublime Western Highway.
Especially poignant was Maura's rendition, with her sisters and niece, of the old ballad I Know My Love and a bawdy and uproarious account in the company of the song's writer, Mr Prine, of In Spite of Ourselves, enthralled the partisan audience.
Never faltering, the marathon performance concluded with an obligatory all-hands-on-deck delivery of My Irish Molly, bringing the curtain down on a riveting and spellbinding recital.
Copyright Irish Examiner -- used by permission