Category: Archive

Live Review Guests galore at Cherish concert

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Earle Hitchner

CHERISH THE LADIES. At Symphony Space, NYC. April 19.

To celebrate the release of "The Girls Won’t Leave the Boys Alone," their third BMG recording and seventh as a band (plus a best-of compilation), Cherish the Ladies invited many of the guests on the new album to appear with them this night. Despite some subpar sound and a couple of slack guest spots, the sextet held sway at the center of it all, giving a vibrant performance befitting their best and most enjoyable album to date.

Right from the start, Cherish the Ladies made an impact. Their rendition of "The Cat’s Meow," a jig composed by Joanie Madden in honor of the late Galway button accordionist Seán McGlynn, conveyed just the right balance of finesse and fun. Adding some lively stepdancing to this opening segment were Donny and Eileen Golden, Sinead Lawlor, and Joe Dwyer.

A blast of reels, called "Last Night’s Fun Set," spotlighted Cherish’s Mary Rafferty and guest Billy McComiskey in a rousing button accordion duet within a medley bolstered by Mick Moloney on tenor banjo. Another instrumental high point was the blend of Cherish the Ladies and "Cherish the Daddies" (as accordionists Jim Coogan and Joe Madden, flutist Mike Rafferty, and uilleann piper Mattie Connolly sometimes refer to themselves) on two jigs, "Carraroe/Lilting Fisherman," that followed Connolly’s fine singing of "The Queen of Connemara."

Pianist Donna Long beautifully performed one of her own tunes, "Luna," named for the 180-foot, 1,000-year-old California redwood that Julia Butterfly Hill lived atop for two years to save it from being turned into lumber. (Quipped Joanie Madden: "No one in the Bronx would live in a tree for two years — unless they were hiding from the cops.") And guitarist Mary Coogan played with equal fervor "The Lament for Owen Roe."

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Songs flowed comfortably and impressively for Cherish’s new lead singer, Deirdre Connolly, who shone on "The Broom of the Cowdenknowes" and especially "Erin Grá Mo Chroí." Two guests giving a flawless vocal account of themselves were Mick Moloney on "Ye Lovers All" (also known as "North Amerikay") and Dublin-born balladeer Paddy Reilly on "Down by the Glenside."

In excellent voice but less steady in memory was Liam Clancy, who stumbled in the lyrics to one song, while the opposite was true of Tom Chapin, who was reliable in lyrics (written on a sheet before him) but less steady in voice on "Rambling Irishman."

These awkward moments can probably be chalked up to the difficult logistical challenge of featuring so many guests in one concert. Besides, who could complain of a profusion of talent that included Eric "Dueling Banjos" Weissberg, Martin and Marie Reilly, Colin Dunne, Brian Kennedy, Aoife Clancy, John Madden, Siobhan Egan, Dónal Clancy, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, and Phil Bowler?

Each had the same objective: to honor Cherish the Ladies, who are still making superb music after 16 years, as this concert proved to the delight of all.

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