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Of Note  
Irish Times Review of Letterkenny Show
A Woman's Heart

Mount Errigal Hotel


Derek O'Connor

April 5, 2003

Can it really be a decade since the original A Woman's Heart project took the Irish charts by storm? With two massively successful albums, innumerable sell-out live shows and, above all "that" ubiquitous song -- Eleanor McEvoy's mournful ode to the female condition -- the biggest surprise has to be that they took so long to kick-start this lucrative phenomenon once more.

Still, A Woman's Heart: A Decade On hits the road with a quartet of the original stars (McEvoy, Maura O'Connell, Dolores Keane and Mary Coughlan), with folkie Cara Dillon representing the newer generation.

It's Derrywoman Dillon who takes to the Letterkenny stage first, to a muted response from an audience largely unfamiliar with her acclaimed, eponymous debut album; slowly but surely, however, the packed house is won over by tunes of delicate beauty such as her self-penned Blue Mountain River. Being from "up the road", as she puts it herself, doesn't hurt either.

With McEvoy acting as MC for the evening, it's straight into the star turns -- with each act performing no more than five numbers, giving their performances an intense brevity.

Mary Coughlan remains for the nation's foremost interpreters of song, be they jazz standards of the Tired and Emotional-era tunes with which she made her reputation, and to see her as edgily insouciant as ever remains a pleasure; Eleanor McEvoy, in the meantime injects a contemporary acoustic feel that, tonight anyhow, hits the mark.

Then, there are the showstoppers; Dolores Keane is a national treasure, that's a given, bowling the crowd over with an impeccably timely take on Eric Bogle's anti-war ballad All the Fine Young Men. Maura O'Connell is, on this occasion, in a class of her own, holding the audience in the palm of her hand from the first bars of Patty Griffin's I Wonder, radiating sheer showwomanship and leaving them baying for more -- true star turns from a pair of Celtic soul queens. The five ladies then take to the stage for a brief, rather loose two-song encore, and the mature, utterly respectable audience goes home very happy indeed. A fine evening.

Copyright 2003 Irish Times

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