Review: Warwick Arts Centre audience on their feet cheering Clannad

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Clannad, Warwick Arts Centre, October 11

Many people will remember Clannad from the 1980s when their Theme from Harry’s Game became a big hit.

The spiritual sound of the theme to the TV drama series, which focused on the troubles in Northern Ireland, broke new ground in folk music and won the band many fans around the world.

Their arts centre concert was part of their UK and Ireland tour promoting their new album, Nadur.

Although the Butterworth Hall was less than half full, by the end most of the audience were on their feet cheering the band’s performance. Their mystical music is complemented by colourful lighting which plays on the mist rising from the stage.

The concert included some of their new material, but also many of their classic tunes. Apart from Harry’s Game, they roused the audience with music from another drama series, Robin of Sherwood. And they started with I Will Find You from the film Last of the Mohicans. The traditional song Down by the Sally Gardens was also loudly applauded.

The band, formed in 1970 in County Donegal, consists of siblings Moya, Ciaran and Pol Brennan, and their twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan. Their music has been variously described as folk and folk rock, traditional Irish, Celtic and new-age.

Lead singer Moya epitomises the haunting harmonies that the band produces, but Ciaran and Pól are equally influential. Ciarán is a singer/songwriter and plays bass, guitar, keyboards and mandolin,

Pól plays flute, guitar, percussion and whistles, but on the night he was particularly impressive in leading the band through some of their best numbers.

Guest percussionist Ged Lynch helped to create the magical atmosphere with some dramatic drumming.

Warm-up act Ruth Trimble from Belfast showed that she is a gifted songwriter with some deeply moving material.

Rating: 9/10

Peter Gawthorpe