There is no finer way to end a St. Patrick’s Day than to be part of a special 50th anniversary concert of the Chieftains at Carnegie Hall.
Paddy Moloney again was in full command as he led the audience down memory lane from their very first album, Lament for Limerick, when their orchestration of traditional chunes first cried out for a bigger platform for presentation.
Fair play to Paddy and the remaining Chieftains Sean Keane, Matt Molloy and Kevin Conneff, who did not get bogged down in a history lesson for the group that logged 50 albums over that time and so many multicultural collaborations that you would need a week to walk that road.
Rather there were selections that suited the current performance troupe that included Trina Marshall, the Laois harpist who was superb on the night, Jon and Nathan Pilatzke and Cara Butler and Scottish singer Alyth McCormick, along with Yanks Jeff White and Deanie Richardson.
Their latest CD, Voice of Ages, includes a number of indie bands and singers like Imelda May and Lisa Hannigan who Paddy programmed for the most part to sing songs from the Irish tradition that could do with an updated (and not jaded) approach. And it seemed to work as the new album is doing well in the world music rankings and sales.
One of those bands, Low Anthem, who perform the Ewan MacColl song “School Days Over” on the recording, appeared with the Chieftains over the last few shows of the tour. Donny Golden and 15 of his top dancers all performed as well.
The show was capped with the Breton dance “The Andro,” with members of the audience coaxed out of their seats up and down the aisle led by Butler and Golden.
Making it extra special was the appearance of a pipe band, Bagad Plougastel, and a dance group, Bleuniou, from Brittany that actually knew what they were doing and were in town for the New York parade. Here’s to another 50 years and Bob Dylan, Paddy has you in his sights.