Hayes revealed afterwards to Schaefer and his audience both in house and worldwide that “we don’t have a grand plan most nights as it is mostly a serendipitous experience of seeing what happens and feeling our ways through it.”
While improvisation is a key element of their act, there is also the strong sense of watching the artists have a musical dialogue on stage that is built on not only a familiarity with one another’s gifts, but also a growing respect for what each brings to the group.
On Saturday night, the quintet moved over to the subterranean hip musical haunt Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street for a show hosted by the Irish Arts Center.
Bartlett is a regular performer here at the venue with a mix of more contemporary and edgy rock artists, and his notion of performing in the round suited the gig exceptionally well in my opinion giving most of the capacity crowd a better view in the odd shaped room. And it gave even more of an impression of a jam session in full flight with its textured and reactive musical conversation unfolding between them.
The set list had some variation from the night before, with some of the songs juggled in the rotation. The 250 people in the audience were treated to another musical tour de force that had them riveted for the hour and a half performance yielding two standing ovations at its conclusion.
For those who have been captivated by Hayes and Cahill’s approach to traditional music over two decades, watching him deconstruct and reconstruct tune settings, the pleasure and intensity is doubled thanks to addition of Barlett, Ó Raghallaigh and Ó Lionaird who add their layering effect.
Hayes’ own new-found appreciation for a session-weary tune like “The Sailor’s Bonnet” led to a blistering set of tunes midway through the show that brought unbridled and sustained applause throughout the room.
Ó Lionaird’s rendition of the familiar “Samhraidh, Samhraidh,” Ireland’s ode to summer bliss, was most appropriate for the day of the Summer Solstice in New York City.
The encore song “Saoirse” based on a poem written by Seán O’Riordáin and translated by Paul Muldoon who was in the audience closed out the night at Le Poisson Rouge and another very successful collaboration with the Irish Arts Center for both the artists and this venue.
While there are some hard core critics from the pure drop choir of the the Gloaming as to its impact or import to the traditional music world, they cannot deny the bona fides of its members and what they have vested in it for a very long time.
They don’t claim to be making a statement with it but rather stirring the hearts and souls of their audience and allowing them to contemplate or escape while they are sharing a time and place or simply be entertained.
They have already been invited to the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August to recreate some of that magic there at the festival now directed by Eugene Downes, formerly of Culture Ireland who imagined a greater role for them some years ago.