Many a family trip of ours was spent driving along to Clannad's 'Past Present', and tonight I get to see the Irish band perform live. The 5 original members are back together for their first UK tour in twelve years. There's a healthy turn out in the beautiful building that is the Leeds Town Hall. Shame the seats are made for the very short, making the evening rather uncomfortable.
Brian Kennedy is opening for them. Eurovision representative, singer at George Best's funeral, and backing singer for Van Morrison, this guy has a huge set of pipes. Playing acoustic guitar, he has the crowd lapping up his every word, such a charmer he is. 'Christopher Street' grabs my attention as he mentions 'Arlene's Grocery', a popular karaoke place in New York. The microphone gives up during his last song, an accapella of 'You Raise Me Up'. It's clear that he doesn't need a microphone as he carries on regardless, no doubt making many fans in the process.
Siblings Moya, Ciaran and Pol Brennan are back together with uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan to perform as the most successful Irish family group (selling over 90 million records). Over this time they have adapted their sounds from traditional Celtic songs, through to New Age after their sister Enya joined for a brief stint in the early Eighties, through to English Folklore and pop and electronica, all the while keeping their famous harmonies (usually Moya singing in that angelic voice whilst the men back her up with of crescendo melody chorus.
Tonight the group visit all of these areas of their career, playing traditional Celtic songs like 'Dulaman' (about seaweed) and 'A Mhuirin O', songs about their land and heritage ('New Grange') their newer poppier songs like 'Closer to Your Heart', songs that saw them branch out into film themes ('(Theme From) Harry's Game') and TV themes ('Robin (The Hooded Man)') and those where they duet with now more famous Irish musicians, in this case some bloke from a band called U2. For tonight's 'In A Lifetime', Bono's vocal part is performed very well by Brian Kennedy.
The setting, in this huge hall with its high ceiling and decorated pipes behind the stage, looks even more spectacular with the band's lighting; blues, greens and reds react with the music to create an atmospheric backdrop to the band's Celtic sounds.
The band are extremely good musicians, playing between them harp, piano, keyboard, double bass, guitar, drums, harmonica, flute and Irish tin whistle, whilst providing those beautiful harmonies. The crowd help them out (with a little coaxing) with some singing, even trying to sing some Celtic lyrics to 'Two Sisters'!
So it's a nice broad set list that the fans love, not forgetting their traditional roots and including their bets hits. It may have taken twelve years but it's worth the wait.