Solas on stage at World Cafe Live, banging out reels, jigs and songs: If there’s a better way, a better band and a better place to close out St. Patrick’s Day, I haven’t heard of it.
Starting with a foot-stomping set of reels and ending (an encore, of course) with the wildly rhythmic “Coconut Dog,” the Irish-American band headed by native Philadelphian and multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan kept the joint jumping all night long.
If you weren’t there—and I probably shouldn’t tell you this because you’ll be heartbroken—Solas was joined onstage by Mike Brenner on dobro (he appears on the band’s most recent release, “The Turning Tide”) and by longtime collaborators Ben Wittman on drums and Chico Huff on bass. Normally, Huff is the only non-band member to accompany the band in local performances. This was a much fuller sound, more like what you hear on recordings. Quite the treat.
Highlights of the evening:
•Winifred Horan’s lovely performance of her tune, “My Dream of You;”
•Singer Mairead Phelan’s sensitive rendering of the Josh Ritter song, “Girl in the War,” with accompaniment by Brenner and harmonies by guitarist and keyboard player Eamon McElholm;
•The band’s killer performance of “Hugo’s Big Reel,” the opening track from the new album;
•A weird and wonderful little story from Winifred Horan about the hilarity that ensues when a fan confuses “fairy forts” with “fairy farts.” And probably enough said on that score.
Oh yes, one other highlight, maybe the best of the night: a sweet a capella performance by Phelan of the old standby, “A Parting Glass.” We were in pin-drop territory on that one. Even the servers stopped buzzing about.
Truly, “goodnight and joy be with you all.”
We’ve a couple of videos from that performance.