Brid Ni Mhaoileoin
at the KIFF,
Aarau, Switzerland
(18 February 2005)

K.I.F.F. (Kultur In der FutterFabrik) is a venue that can host up to 300 people, and on Friday, Feb. 18, Brid Ni Mhaoileoin played to an audience numbering less than 100. What a pity for the 200 who didn't show up.

Ni Mhaoileoin was joined by Alan Burke on vocals and guitar, Joe McHugh on uilleann pipes, low whistles and mandolin, Wolf Zwiauer on electric and fretless bass, and Vanessa Loerkens on fiddles.

The concert opened with a wonderful rendition of the Irish traditional "Green Grows the Laurel," with Ni Mhaoileoin supported by Burke's backing vocals. The two voices were perfectly matched, and no matter who took the lead, the wonderful singing enchanted the audience. Burke also sang "Shepherd Boy," "Sweet Dirty Lane" and two other traditional songs in Irish to much acclaim.

I've seen Joe McHugh several times with different lineups and his piping, as well as his whistling, is wonderful. He also accompanied Burke on the mandolin on "Connemara." I was delighted to hear "Destitution," my favorite of Joe's hauntingly beautiful low whistle tunes.

Zwiauer is an excellent bassist and supported Brid's bodhran playing with his breathtaking bass lines. Loerkens usually plays with Elandir, a talented band from the French part of Switzerland. Even though she had no rehearsal time before the gig, she harmonized perfectly with the band and was a great choice to complete the lineup.

Ni Mhaoileoin sang songs from her debut CD, Ar Mhuin Na Muice, which mostly features traditional songs in Irish. "The Fuchsia," an English song written by a friend of hers, was a rare exception. "Bideach na gCarad," "Bheadh Buachaillin deas ag Sile," "An tSeanbhean Bhoch," "An Trocaillin Donn" and "Maire Bhruinneal" figured in the set-list, as well as some of my favorite songs.

"Brid Og Ni Mhaille" is a hauntingly beautiful ballad from Donegal and a perfect showcase for Brid's sensitive singing. "A Stor a Stor a Ghra" brings out her talent for up-tempo songs, and "Caide sin don tse sin," the first encore she played solo on the bodhran, made me fancy to hear some more sean-nos. Unfortunately, the gig was at its end, and the band closed the set with "Connemara," a wonderful song by Burke.

This was the first time I saw Brid Ni Mhaoileoin live on stage, and I was captivated by her performance. She is a highly talented singer who will certainly make her mark in the traditional music scene.

- Rambles
written by Adolf Goriup
published 16 April 2005

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