After waiting for over 18 months for a taste of live music it was with a sense of expectation and excitement that we travelled to Cloughjordan, a remote small town in North Tipperary, more noted nationally for it’s eco credentials than it’s musical heritage.
However there’s a real sense of the “build it and they will come” mentality to what the Cloughjordan community have constructed with their exquisitely appointed amphitheatre, which was designed by Michael Canney, with the extraordinary stage canopy design by Caelan Bristow. They have been hosting a variety of arts and music events since 2019 with the likes of David Kitt, Lisa O’Neill and Mick Flannery having all played there. No fences or pens for those in attendance tonight thankfully, merely marked out areas on the various levels of the amphitheatre, or there’s a place on the surrounding grassy banks if that’s what you’d prefer.
Talented Nenagh singer songwriter Dàwna opens an evening of musical celebration. Switching between keys and guitar he is an engaging performer with an absolutely powerful voice and a repertoire of songs that delight the assembled crowd, particularly current single My Heart, My Soul.
Susan O’Neill, West Clare’s musical jewel, who has developed an impressive career since her work with King Kong Company to stamp her own mark on the Irish music scene, with powerful solo releases, and Baby Talk her duet with Mick Flannery, which was a real musical highlight of last year.
O’Neill starts her set on her own, switching effortlessly between guitar and trumpet, her ability to loop numerous elements including multiple harmonies, provides a stunning tapestry of sound to frame her gorgeous soulful voice, this is showcased most excellently with her performance of One Day Borrows Another.
She is joined by Cillian & Lorcan Byrne of Basciville mid-set, who provide added accompaniment on drums and piano as the set continues to reach exceptional heights. Trees being a particular stand out on the night, it’s an emotional tour-de-force, who’s environmental theme is befitting of our surroundings, which as the dusk descends become more magical by the minute.
The warmth of the audience for O’Neill exudes throughout, as they are clearly revelling in the opportunity to be able to enjoy live music of this calibre once again. The 10pm curfew comes and goes and it’s clear that it’s sing-along time now, with a wonderful rendition of the Bob Dylan classic Blowin’ in the Wind closing the show with singer and fans in perfect unison.
Live music is back and how we missed it !!