How it’s New York: At City Winery in New York City
How it’s Irish: Irish vocal and instrumental group The High Kings
When the Nor’easter blew into town this week I wasn’t sure if we would make it down to City Winery to see The High Kings. But, thanks to the MTA and 2 brave bus drivers, we slogged through the mush and were greeted with a rousing evening of song and banter to drive away the dreariness outside!
We were there initially to see our dear friend George Murphy, who joined the group last October upon the departure of longtime member Martin Furey. George is an established artist playing regularly around Dublin, and has played extensively in the New York area over the past few years. His distinctive voice and song interpretations are a welcome addition to the group and he has quickly blended into their intricate harmonies and performance style.
Being someone who sees a lot of shows of traditional music, I wouldn’t say that their style is what I would normally gravitate towards, but their enthusiasm and appreciation of their audience won me over. The sold-out show had many die-hard fans who had conquered the elements to be there and the lads let them know repeatedly that it was much appreciated.
Their sound has loads of power behind it, with the electronic keyboards, accordion and mandolin of Darren Holden, and the kick drum and amplified bodhran of Brian Dunphy keeping the beat for the banjos and guitars of Finbar Clancy and George.
Each singer had their own solos, most notably Finbar with the rousing Brennan on the Moor from the Clancy Brothers and George’s Spancil Hill and the iconic Raglan Road. Darren’s lyric tenor brought fresh nuances to the Phil Coulter classic The Town I Loved So Well, and Brian shone with his rendition of the heartbreaker Grace.
Group numbers included the driving opening number Rocky Road to Dublin, Marie’s Wedding and a rendition of Auld Triangle with great syncopation and luscious harmonies. They also had a hilariously witty take on the Irish Pub phenomenon to the tune of Hot Asphalt with their song The Irish Pub, which you can check out here:
The audience were on their feet and singing along to many of the old standards with Rising of the Moon, Fields of Athenry, Whiskey in the Jar, Leaving of Liverpool and Dirty Old Town. Finishing the evening was their signature rendition of The Parting Glass, again featuring intense and intricate harmonies.
If you missed them this past week in New York, you can get on the waiting list for the upcoming show on Wednesday the 14th, back by popular demand here:
or, check out one of their other US tour dates:
With the days winding up to St. Patrick’s Day, they are just the right preview to the big day!