Wednesday, May 17, 2023


REVIEW  Christ Church Cathedral: Sunday Lunchtime Concert


GERALDINE Guiry continues to host the ever-popular Sunday lunchtime concerts in the old Cathedral where everyone receives the biggest of welcomes. It’s a picture-perfect Sunday lunchtime with the light spilling from the Georgian stained-glass windows in shivelights – the term coined by poet Gerard Manly Hopkins for the sharp lances of sunshine that pierce the canopy of a wood. Architect John Roberts’ neo-classic design, with its distinct rococo elegance and styling, is the ideal place for meeting and worship and I never fail to offer a silent prayer for all those who passed through these doors.

Lunchtime concerts are an eclectic mix of local talent and musical choice. First up is Hooks and Crookes – shanty men (Tim Sherman, Joe Phelan, Shay McGrath, Frank Walsh and Declan McGrath) based in and around Dunmore East and Passage. The boys have Cromwell to thank for the name when he joked about getting to Waterford by Hook or Crooke, the headlands on either side of Waterford Harbour. As you can imagine there’s a lot of ballads here that celebrate sea life but also tell coastal tales of exile, loss and the hardship of life like Rita McNeil’s “Working Man”. “Portally Cove” is a come-all-ye with strong harmonies and local place names – Cheekpoint, Passage East, Annestown, Dunmore and the Hook – that’s got a catchy refrain. “Time Ashore” is an elegiac sea-shanty that seems somewhat fearful of what is to come, as is “Lady Franklin’s Lament” for the loss of her husband’s ship HMS Terror on a frozen ocean in the month of May as it searched for the North-West Passage. Guitarist Frank Walsh has put John Masefield’s famous poem of The Seafarer to music and the box and guitar have fashioned a fine tune that I’m sure would have pleased Masefield.

Omega 3 cuts its own niche in Waterford musical circles and recently played to a big house in the Theatre Royal. A broody and sometime melancholic Francie White fronts the band and his distinctive singing style sits well with this morning’s audience. There’s a wistful nostalgia and a hint that we’re not always getting the full story in numbers like Autumn Leaves, Song for Life and Smile that always puzzles. Suzanne’s superb piano accordion accompaniment and Gerry Madden’s mandolin brought us to exotic places like Brazil and Cuba before Francie went walkabout the aisle and conducted the Cathedral audience in the memorable Mary Hopkin number “Those were the days” from way back in 1968.

Fallaway House always sends me back to a vinyl world of sepia with old recordings I have of Francoise Hardy, Nina Simone, Judy Sill, Ruth Etting and the marvellous Peggy Lee. Singer Kate O’Byrne simply inhabits these numbers and invests them with memories and the wonder of being alive. “Black Coffee” is nuanced with the drudge of gettin’ thru’; “The Lamb ran away” with all its Biblical references sits well in the old cathedral; “Ten cents a dance” brings me right back to the Depression and that old Barbara Stanwyck 1931 film of the same name where men paid 10 cents to dance with a dance hall gal and the Hardy classic of just how you say goodbye in “Comment te dire adieu” seems the perfect way to round off a smashing coffee morning in the Viking Triangle.

By Pat McEvoy, Arts Correspondent
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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