By Michael McDonagh at the London Palladium
When Dervish lead singer Cathy Jordan took to the stage at the prestigious London Palladium, she apologised for being late, thirty years late to be exact.
Being here for this special night was a long time coming but worth the wait. American record label Rounder had commissioned Dervish to celebrate their thirty years on the road by recording the Great Irish Song Books with star guests.
The album was supported by a special one-off concert at the Palladium. Cathy’s humour, and the relaxed approach of this much-travelled band, created just the right informal mood.
After the opening set of tunes, she brought on the first surprise guest, Brian Kennedy.
Now fully recovered from cancer treatment Brian was in wonderful form as he gave us a beautiful rendition of the song She Moved Through the Fair.
This was followed by another special guest – English folk songstress Kate Rusby sang a moving version of Down by The Sally Gardens.
Between their typical foot stomping sets of Irish jigs and reels Dervish kept bringing on the guests who sang as solo performers or together.
They included Imelda May, joined by Dervish’s producer Graham Henderson, who gave us Molly Malone from her hometown Dublin. Cara Dillon gave us an exquisite The Fields of Athenry.
Then, Imelda, Brian, and Cara performed with Dervish ‘Ireland’s most popular folk song’ Raglan Road. On keyboards David Grey performed and evocative version of Andy Irvine’s West Coast of Clare.
Unfortunately, Brendon Gleeson was ill and therefore unable to reprise his performance of The Rocky Road to Dublin, so it was left to Cathy Jordan to get her tongue around all those fast and furious words and the crowd clapping along.
An ensemble version of The Galway Shawl followed with an understated Imelda May and the evening closed with The Parting Glass.
A memorable night.