Celtic virtuoso dazzles at the Ropetackle

Sharon Shannon - Shoreham Ropetackle

There are few finer musicians on the folk-roots circuit than the sublime Sharon Shannon, and this packed out gig on the Sussex coast showed precisely why she's celebrating more than 21 years in the business.

Kicking off with Flying Circus from her 2012 album with the RTE Concert Orchestra, the County Clare maestro went through the full range of her extensive repertoire, dipping into albums going back to her best-selling debut in 1991.

Old favourites Coridinio, Butterflies, Bungee Jumpers and Reel Beatrice were interspersed with exhilarating workouts on pipes (Raithlin Island) and violin (The Woodchoppers), as well as a superb rendition of De Dannon's Duo in G.

Accompanying Sharon was the quite superb Alan Connor from Dublin, who switched from electric piano to guitar with dizzying speed and breathtaking dexterity, leading a raucous Midnight Special on vocal duties, and a solo piece that wrapped up jazz, blues and boogie in an impressive piece of improvised showmanship.

Sharon chatted away between songs, responding to banter from many Irish music lovers in the crowd, and spending the interval catching up with old friends who'd travelled to see her.

Standouts were a sensitive and heartfelt cover of Mark Knopfler's Why Worry? (from Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms album) - one of Sharon's "favourite ever songs", and a rollicking Galway Girl to finish.

It would have been nice to see a mature crowd on their feet dancing towards the end, but at least they gave the pair of them a standing ovation. Music to lift the heart and nourish the soul.

Russ Bravo

Photo: Richard Mountain

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