The day kicked off with a start that couldn’t be more local. Moher comprises many musicians resident in Clare and well known to Doolin session-goers. The group of eight musicians used their number and skill to produce a surprising nuanced and textured sound which, when it needed to, could rattle the tent pegs.
After that though I left familiar territory. Ye Vagabonds, another brotherly collaboration, grabbed a stunned audience from the first number which was a haunting and mesmerising version Barbara Allen. This was a Child Ballad reborn and what followed was a spellbinding set, perfect for a drizzly Saturday afternoon.
More surprises followed with Breaking Trad, who mixed it up with an exciting, energetic delivery and yet could slow it down beautifully, as with their version of Clare to Here.
In my ignorance I had never heard of Freddie White. Another surprise that knocked me backwards. A fantastic stage experience from a master of his craft. Beautiful songs, some his own and many known to the audience, who sang along with gusto. An added bonus for me was that he was an absolute joy to photograph with an ever-changing face full of life experiences and wonderful expression.
Then there was Dervish who for 27 years have been belting it out producing music from the top drawer. Kathy Jordan was in fine form and there was something for everyone. Particularly fine was her rendition of Down by the Glenside.
I was a bit dubious as to how Hothouse Flowers would fit in but how brilliant were they. A passionate, exciting, captivating performance from a truly great rock band led by Liam Ó Maonlaí . An inspired choice for this festival, it really was a privilege to hear them live. I have to say though it was very hard to dance while juggling two cameras I can tell you.
For me that was enough but I stayed long enough to catch the beginning of Marc O’Reilly. The crowd looked like they were settling in for a long night.