Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
With St. Patrick’s Day looming on the horizon, many a regional pub, music club and concert hall are gearing up to bring Irish music of all kinds to the area. The Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs is no exception… except that being an Irish pub and music club under one roof, they bring in Irish music year round. Recently, they hosted the Prodigals, and this time out, the Screaming Orphans were the club’s musical guests.
The Screaming Orphans – the four, lovely Diver sisters from County Donegal, Ireland – have seen their musical career take off on on a meteoric rise in a relatively short span of time.
They’ve toured as back-up singers with Sinead O’Connor and African music sensation, Babba Maal; recorded with Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchel and the Chieftains; and recorded their debut album, “Listen and Learn,” with Mike Hedges (producer for the likes of U2, Siouxie and the Banshees, among other many other notables) at the helm.
At the Parting Glass, golden-haired Joan Diver manned the drum kit, played the bodhran and sang up a storm as the Orphans’ lead singer. Her sister Angela Diver pulled triple-duty on the electric bass, the fiddle and harmonies vocals. Another sister, Grainne Diver, did most of the onstage talking, introducing songs and telling stories. She also played the acoustic guitar and added her voice to the harmony mix. And eldest sister Marie Therese Diver sang and jammed away on the keyboards.
The sold-out audience was treated to one gorgeous and generously long show. The Orphans’ magnificent four-part harmonies and mastery over their instruments filled the Parting Glass with a kaleidoscope of original pop-tunes and traditional Irish songs.
Like many a contemporary Irish band from the Coors (also a group of siblings) to the Saw Doctors, the Orphans have one foot firmly planted in the traditional Celtic music scene and the other in the rock-pop-country sounds of the Horselips or U2. However, instead of mixing songs from those two creative tributaries on every album, the Orphans separate the music and release two different CDs at a time. Their most recent 2011 outings, “Lonely Boy” and “The Jacket’s Green,” reflect this sensible approach. The first is modern pop and rock influenced album, while the latter is strictly rooted in traditional music.
This duality of their music was heartily reflected and appreciated by the audience assembled in the Parting Glass’ concert hall. Some folks were there to raise a pint and sing along with the old songs, while others were there to move and groove to the rock-tinged beats.
Either way, it was all good.