Live Review | CAST Theatre, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Northern Sky Stock Photo
To open the first date of his final tour of 2019, Daoiri Farrell arrived in Doncaster on an extremely wet November afternoon, the rain so hostile, that it kept some ticket holders away. Daoiri managed to get from Dublin though, and that seemed to be all that mattered on this occasion. Apparently suffering the last of a cold, Daoiri wasn’t going to let it get in the way of a superb couple of sets in the Second Space at CAST tonight. With just two eight-stringed instruments and his own distinctive voice, the Dublin-born singer performed fifteen songs, interspersed with some of his familiar off-the-cuff humour and anecdotal wisdom before an appreciative audience.
There’s a certain warmth to just about everything Daoiri Farrell says, making each and every member of the audience feel at ease. He says “I’ll tell you about it later” as an aside, as if they’re going to meet up after the show, or invites them to his Ma’s, where there’s an open welcome to come around for tea and while you’re at it, you can touch his folk award trophies on the mantelpiece; you always feel that Daoiri is your pal. Opening with a couple of songs learned from fellow Dubliner Eddie Furey, “This Town is Not Your Own” and “McShane”, the singer soon found his stride, his voice perfectly pitched to communicate with his audience. Equally at home with unaccompanied songs, some of them quite lengthy yet at the same time uncluttered and crucially, without missing a single syllable, Daoiri builds a bridge between Doncaster and his hometown, approximately 212 miles long as the crow flies.
Always crediting his sources, Liam Weldon for the unaccompanied “The Blue Tar Road”and Luke Kelly for “The Unquiet Grave”, there’s always a sense of deep gratitude for those of the tradition. Andy Irvine is mentioned, not for his obvious influence, but for the loan of a well-travelled guitar-shaped bouzouki, which he intends to give back some day. Other songs of note during the two sets included “Pat Rainey”, “Valley of Knockanure” and “Clasped to a Pig”, to name but three. The two unaccompanied songs performed midway through the second set, “The Rollicking Boys Around Tandragee” and “Van Diemen’s Land”, kept the audience spellbound during the many verses, stories that kept the audience’s attention through to the end.
“The Creggan White Hare” marked the home straight, with a superb arrangement of the old hunting song, memorably recorded by Andy Irvine and Dick Gaughan for their Parallel Lines record back in the 1980s. By way of contrast, Daoiri delivered what was essentially a lullaby to close with, Bill Caddick’s “John O’Dreams”, which would have served as the perfect closer, had it not been for the gorgeous “Galway Shawl”, which followed a predictable demand for more.