sorted magazine - issue 3

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The Afro-Celt Sound System,
Monday 28 July, The Olympia Theatre.

The Afro-Celt's tour of summer festivals has done them a lot of good. The now truly have the feel of a proper band and not just a random collection of experimenting musicians.

In comparison to the last time the band played this venues, this time they were trul electric. The music had a casual, relaxed feel about it. It seemed that the musicians on the stage were having just as much fun as the audience.

James McNally is one of the most incredible front-men playing at the moment. On-stage he is a cross between ringleader, clown and, of course, a fabulous musician. Whether dancing around with a flute or whistle (tin and low) like a demented pied piper, or beating the shit out of a bodhran with some of the fastest playing I have ever seen, whenever he is on-stage he is the center of attention.

The Afro-Celts on record are much more of a dance band than they are live, on stage, the dance beats only form the most basic of a foundation for the musicians. This gig featured some different faces from the last time and they seem to gel with each other better than their fore-runners. It is truly impossible to describe in words the music that was played, from the demented jam of the Irish music mix to the delicate beauty of Iarla O Lionard's sean nos to the mad African beats complete with a tribal dancer.

Song titles lose all relevance, and in many cases the songs are only slightly recognizable. The Afro-Celts play a music that is truly alive and constantly evolving and is often characterized by battles between different musicians - tin whistle vs. bodhran or bodhran vs. tama.

It is refreshing to hear something that is both very old but is also incredibly fresh. The reaction of the crowd, which featured quite a few dance fans, proves that this music has struck some kind of chord. Who would have thought that rave would be replaced by traditional and ethnic music? It is a funny old world.

by Donnacha DeLong