Ye Vagabonds at Whelan’s, Dublin, 22 March 2019

Brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn, AKA Ye Vagabonds, take to the stage to launch their second album ‘The Hare’s Lament.’ The album, which is already gaining plaudits, also comes with its personal benefits for the band. In jest, Diarmuid declares to a sold-out Whelan’s: “the lovely thing about releasing a second album is now people can say: ‘ah Ye Vagabonds yea, I like their early stuff.’ That’s why you do it, you know. So, your really dedicated fans can become more pretentious.”

The band open with On Yonder Hill, silencing the chatter of the crowd with an impressive acapella intro. Something unmistakable from the Carlow-born brothers is the grand quality of their voices and how they masterfully interlock their harmonies. Tonight they share a vocal mic, making the musical bond that they have more evident.

The pair are accompanied by Nicholas Cooper and Consuelo Breschi on fiddle, as well as Alain Mc Fadden on harmonium. Musically the set is delicately coloured, with the captivating vocals being the key player in the performance. Brían’s rendition of The Foggy Dew is particularly stunning, with the vocal line rich and tender in its ornamentation. After Dá mBeinn i mo Bhádóir, Brían introduces the song I Courted A Wee Girl with a wry smile: “That song was a little bit upbeat, unfortunately. I’m going to give you another dose of misery again, though.”

Just as the set is rife with songs of grief and sadness, it is also full of quips and crowd-banter. “I’d say we can just get away with naming places all night,” jokes Diarmuid, when he notices that every mention of a county of Ireland elicits a loud cheer. The lads are known for their story-telling songs of sorrow, but their affable charm and dry wit on stage acts as the perfect decompression from the poignant content. Effortlessly and frequently they shepherd the audience’s noise level from a pin-drop silence to a ripple of hearty laughs. The set ends with a beautiful rendition of the Scottish folk song Willie O Winsbury; a paramount example of the enthralling power of the pair’s soothing vocals.

The humility and humour from the two brothers tonight made for a very human experience. A night that could so easily leave you in a sentimental stupor, was given many a hopeful and positive turn. Like with a good film, crying and laughing can be experienced within a short space of time. A traditional shoulder-to-shoulder bow from the band ends a truly nourishing performance from the Dublin-based duo.