Devizes Festival: Caladh Nua at the Corn Exchange

Chris Palmer reviews Caladh Nua at Devizes Festival

Chris Palmer reviews Caladh Nua at Devizes Festival

First published in News
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Traditional Irish music doesn’t come more tastefully presented than this. Caladh Nua eschew temptations to ‘punk it up’ like The Pogues but they neither drown their tunes in schmaltz.

Their name translates as ‘In Search Of Music’ but I can assure them that they have found it- deeply felt, this is Celtic soul, a music that, whatever the makeup of your DNA, speaks to something buried inside all of us.

It seemed fitting too to hear this music in the Corn Exchange, surely a building that has vibrated to the fiddle and pipe many times over the years. You could hear the ancestral voices calling…

If at times you felt a need for a greater urgency in the playing, or to put it more bluntly, more grunt, you were quickly reminded that the sedateness of the evening is the point - this is not a soundtrack to the frenzied way we live today but a harkening back to a gentler age. Or another way.

This is not to suggest that this music is whalesong - it can get you moving as effectively as anything in the current charts, but it does it with grace.

Highlights of the evening were an ethereal rendition of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing with just two voices and guitar and a superb bodhrun solo.

These musicians are artists in love with their culture and its legacy. They present their songs as cherished artefacts- so less shebeen, more musical museum.

This gig, coming in the same week as Bloomsday, was a not-so sober reminder of the extraordinary impact of the Irish on the rhythms of the world.

CHRIS PALMER 

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