By Martin Chilton for The Telegraph
A night of wonderful musical teamwork and star solo moments at the 2012 Transatlantic Sessions featuring Raul Malo, Ruth Moody, Tim O’Brien and Jerry Douglas.
The Transatlantic Sessions concerts are a yearly delight, brightening up even the coldest February night.
At one point, with 17 eclectic, highly-skilled musicians on stage, it was like experiencing a high-tempo sound version of a Barcelona football club training session such was the stunning musical teamwork.
The usual suspects were again on top form – including Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas and John McCusker – but there was a fresh batch of singers earning their Transatlantic spurs.
Ruth Moody, the Wailin’ Jennys singer who has just released a solo album, was excellent and her fine song The Garden sparkled in the hands of such great accompanists.
Ireland’s Declan O’Rourke was original and confident, Eddi Reader passionate and Capercaillie singer Karen Matheson did a lovely version of Si Kahn’s haunting song Aragon Mill.
Instrumental of the night went to Michael McGoldrick for his stunning Uilleann pipes playing on T’Aimse Im’ Chodhladh (I Am Asleep, Don’t Wake Me) and he was superb throughout. Manchester-born McGoldrick and Devon man Danny Thompson were the only Englishmen on stage and 72-year-old Thompson, equally assured playing jazz or folk, looked on with serene guru-like encouragement at the young musicians around him. It was a shame the sound levels weren’t quite right in the first set to bring out Thompson’s skill as part of a rhythm section.
There were lots of instrumentals – after one of which Dobro maestro Douglas simply said ‘Wow!” -and several crowd-pleasers including Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land, in honour of the American folk legend’s centenary year.
Two other honourable mentions. Tim O’Brien oozed class. He was funny, sang well and played exquisite fiddle. The man from Wheeling, West Virginia even made a joke about his home state, saying: “Did you know a West Virginian invented the toothbrush? Anywhere else it would have been called the teethbrush.”
Also on the bill was ex-Mavericks front man Raul Malo, who has an elegant, powerful voice. He sang ballads and led the festivities as all 17 musicians joined in on a version of Hey Good Lookin’. “That’s the first time we have ever done a Hank Williams song on Transatlantic,” said Bain.
Malo, who had a big grin throughout a fun evening, said: “How about this night of music, isn’t it beautiful?”
A standing ovation showed that the audience, which included Eric Clapton, agreed.