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Yn Chruinnaght shines a light on Celtic culture

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The annual Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival offering up a mix of contemporary and traditional Celtic music and dance for all ages took place in Peel.

It was held over the last weekend and alongside informal sessions around the town, the main two concerts took place at the Centenary Centre; on Friday night Welsh indie band 9Bach performed, while on the Saturday evening it was the turn of giants in the Celtic music world, Boys of the Lough.

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Boys of the Lough, review by Mike Wade

From Friday night’s sublime 9Bach comes something altogether more familiar and traditional. The Boys of the Lough have been around for many decades, surviving through many line up changes and drawing on all manner of Gaelic musical roots.

Throughout all of this however, their sound has remained clear, faithful and, more so, highly respectful of the roots of folk music.

The band revolves around the presence of world-renowned legendary whistle player Cathal McConnell, who delighted in telling the crowd over and over again that this was his first time in the island, and his delightful playing was expertly complemented by another legendary figure, accordian player Brendan Begley, and also by the incredible musicianship of fiddle player Kevin Henderson and guitarist Malcolm Stitt.

For a collection of musicians of this calibre, and for the years of experience, creativity and knowledge, the Boys of the Lough were stunningly unpretentious.

They played and chatted together onstage, and also with the audience, with Cathal delighting in tell the audience that this was his first time here, and Brendan speaking in glowing terms in the difference he has seen in the growth of the Manx language and culture. Each musician took his turn to lead the band, Brendan especially moving the crowd to thunderous applause with a selection of Irish tunes, sung with gentle lilting tones. However, the biggest cheers of the night was left for Cathal when he performed incredible tunes on two whistles, playing rythmn and lead simultaneously.

The world of folk music has seen a huge wave of re-visiting and re-invention, and new ways of adapting and interpreting folk and traditional music have created a very broad and rich musical landscape that can be both invigorating and dizzying at the same time.

With this in mind, it’s a genuine joy to watch The Boys of the Lough play their tunes and songs with an honesty, a simplicity and an unadulterated passion for their craft.

And they were as at home playing in the after-show session at the White House as they were on the stage.

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9Bach, review by Stephen Parry

The Welsh language and the country’s cultural heritage was delicately presented at Peel’s Centenary Centre on Friday night.

Six-piece oufit 9Bach performed a set of 11 songs as part of this year’s Yn Chruinnaght festival – each a traditional tune or poem sung in the band’s mother tongue, intricately arranged for the 21st Century and confidently executed.

The set began with an engaging melody and continued in a neat, elegant style.

And the appreciative crowd reacted positively – what mattered was clearly the sound of what we were hearing rather than the meaning of the lyrics.

Short explanations between tracks helped outline the origin and inspiration behind each selection.

But these intervals were brief as the concert pressed swiftly on through folk harmonies to the occasional rhythm break and on to fragile soundscapes.

Instrumentally, the band’s male musicians on guitar, drums and bass provided a sound foundation for the females at the front of the stage, who weaved beguiling vocals, harp, keyboards, harmonium and even xylophone into the mix.

The playing was impressive and the arrangements tight, which helped lift the lead singer’s range and delivery to even greater heights as the performance drove to an impressive and percussive finale.

 

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