Judging by Altan’s vibrant and spectacular performance on Friday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, it’s hard to believe that these purveyors of traditional Irish music have been playing together for a quarter of a century.
Since their debut recording on Green Linnet in 1987, Altan has popularized the Gaelic songbook, Scottish highland melodies, jigs, mazurkas and reels rooted deep in the Donegal tradition. At the heart of the music is the expressive and haunting soprano of lead vocalist, fiddler and co-founder Maire’ad Ni Mhaonaigh.
Named after Loch Altan, a lake near Mhaonaigh’s home – as well as a reel she composed – the five-piece outfit that performed at the Music Hall on Friday featured original members fiddler Ciaran Tourish and bouzouki master Ciaran Curran with long-time bandmates guitarist Daithi Sproule (since 1992) and accordionist Dermot Byrne (since 1994) completing the line up.
Altan has toured the globe and rightly earned the moniker “legendary supergroup” in the Irish traditional music pantheon that includes such ensembles as Planxty, the Bothy Band and Patrick Street. Their newest recording on the Nashville-based Compass Records, “25th Anniversary Celebration with the R.T.F. Concert Orchestra” attests to their longevity and appeal.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
ALTAN SET LIST:
Highland Man / Cliffs of Glen / Old Cuffe St.
Ant Seanchaileach / Dermot Byrnes
Mo Ghaoil Ghaoil
As I Roved Out
T. Peoples / Loch Altan / Danny Meehans
Gleanntain Ghlas Gaoth Dobhair
2 Highlands / 2 Reels
Is the Big Man Within? / Tilly Finn’s
Dark Haired Lass
Come ye by Atholl
Red Red Rose
A Bhean Udai Thall