Brolly & Friends bow out of Symphony Hall after 16 years

Brolly Symphony Hall
Karl Loxley

By Larry Cooney

An audience of well in excess of a thousand people turned out for Bob Brolly and Friends’ 17th, and final, concert at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall last Sunday night.

The inimitable Coventry-based Derry broadcaster and entertainer pulled out all the stops for a memorable evening of traditional entertainment in aid of Donegal Mind Wellness, a charity founded by Tipperary native Majella O’Donnell and wife of entertainer Daniel O’Donnell.

Brolly Symphony Hall
Fergal Raherty

The lady herself, Majella, played a key role with Bob in co-ordinating what was a very enjoyable evening. Just after seven o’clock the host entered the stage and welcomed the audience before introducing the backing band including accordionist Mark McCabe got everyone in foot-tapping mode.

Accomplished Steel guitarist Basil Henriques was also singled out for a special mention for his contribution. But it was left to the Scanlon School of Irish Dancing followed by youthful country singer Ben Troy to set the tone for almost three hours entertainment.

Brolly Symphony Hall
Bob Brolly: Photographer: Craig Holmes

Just after eleven o’clock all the entertainers and helpers joined final act Des Willoughby for a rendition of the popular ‘Can anybody tell men where the Blarney roses grow?

Everyone will have their own favourite moments of a great evening but the consensus was that the appearance of the two tenors Des Willoughby and Karl Loxley singing, in unison, their rendition of Nessun Dorma was the culmination of a great evening.

Brolly Symphony Hall
Mary Byrne and Des Wiloughby

A star of TV’s The Voice, Coventry man Karl has had a meteoric rise to fame in the last three years and it is easily to see why he is destined for stardom.

Other notable contributions from a wonderful evening include Marc Roberts who performed some favourite John Denver ‘covers’, award winning Meath female country star Kathy Crinion, Tenerife-based Longford country singer Fergal Flaherty and of course the lady herself Majella O’Donnell.

Eight different variety acts, some well-known and some not so well known, sent the audience home very happy. Those who had the stamina and who did not have to worry about getting up for work the following morning retreated to the nearby Jury’s Hotel for an after-show party.

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