The Gloam Rangers

Martin Longley disappeared into the calm twinkling of The Gloaming, an Irish-American folk chamber supergroup.

The Gloaming
Symphony Hall

As with most traditional folk bands, The Gloaming enjoy stringing two or three tunes together, but their difference is that these are often original compositions, and are also stretched out for an extended development, slowed, savoured and sliding through several movements.

This isn’t a riotous, friction-filled session, as these mostly Irish players possess the delicate grace of the classical chamber group, their two fiddles criss-crossing lines with faint harmonies and seamless softness. This is to The Gloaming’s advantage, making them stand out alone in this field.

The two fiddlers are Caoimhín O Raghallaigh and Martin Hayes, the latter famed for his duo work with Chicagoan guitarist Dennis Cahill, who is also a band member. New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (also known as Doveman) and Irish singer Iarla O Lionáird complete the line-up, the latter sometimes playing harmonium.

Yorkshire composer Gavin Bryars has written several pieces for O Lionáird (who specialises in the delicately haunting sean-nós style) and he was present in the audience. O Lionáird delivered several songs a capella, deepening the atmosphere, but continuing the same concentrated feel. The fiddlers will also work together for stretches, before being joined by the remaining players.

All of these permutations added to the varied dynamics of a set that hovered around the 100 minute mark. Towards the finish, Song 44 provided a particular highlight, with Bartlett gently hammering his keys, the other hand lost under the piano lid, O Lionáird making a rhythmically enunciated vocal progress, whilst the fiddles sung along in sympathy.