Getting out of the way of the music

Clareman Martin Hayes on the fiddle and, from the foothills of the Comearagh Mountains, piper David Power
Robert McMillen

Martin Hayes and David Power

The Black Box

Out to Lunch

The Black Box was filled to the rafters yesterday afternoon for a gig where two masters of the tradition, fiddler Martin Hayes and Waterford piper David Power, took the audience to the other side of reality with music to make the heavens swoon.

Hayes has been to the forefront of stretching the tradition in whatever way his sensibilities and intelligence take him, as a solo fiddler, with a guitarist, mostly Denis Cahill and more recently with supergroup The Gloaming but how would he fit in with David Power's piping?

Almost flawlessly - tuning problems aside - is the answer and in all kinds of situations, from languid jigs to rollicking reels, the pair braided together a sound that lifted 21st century hearts with music that could would have enlivened an 19th century house ceili, replete with clay pipes, jugs of póitín and the sounds of the Irish language.

The Black Box audience might not have caroused like tipsy pre-famine farmhands but their foot-tapping and whoops of pleasure added to a great atmosphere.

Hayes occasionally looks as if he is entering a trance-like state while playing and at times it seemed as if fiddle and musician become one entity but he likes to think of it as himself getting out of the way and letting the music take over.

His playing is like that of a great actor who can change a mood by the tiniest movement of an eyebrow. Hayes can play gossamer light notes than can change a mood or a direction or fire you up with music that has the urgency of a runaway train, curly hair and fiddle flying into the air.

At times, it looked as if David Power's pipes were like a fishing rod, trying to haul in a dervish-possessed bradán feasa.

The link to the 19th century was reinforced by the chanter Power uses. Called the 18 Moloney because it is 18 inches long and eas made by the Moloney brothers in Boutle 1825.

“This is the sound of pre-famine Ireland,” he told us about the tone coming from this great intrument as he went into The Ace and Deuce of Piping.

His Cuaichín Ghleann Neifín also displayed an aspect of our culture that doesn't get due recognition, the slow air sympathetically played on the uilleann pipes.

To finish the afternoon gig, Martin and David chose An Cúilfhionn which was breathtaking in its beauty before the duet rocked the house with another set of fiery reels.

Well done to Out to Lunch and An Droichead for another memorable afternoon.

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