Live review: Celtic Connections: The Olllam at Oran Mor, 18/1/14

The-OlllamFollowing the rousing opening to the festival from Dub Inc, the following evening The Olllam play the Oran Mor and this is a gig many have been excited about – they were recommended by The Treacherous Orchestra.

The band is formed from members of other respected bands, notably Lunasa, The Olllam’s story so far is really quite unique, they have been creating music oceans apart from each other, and released a strong debut album, so people are curious to see how it works live.

The two pipe players – American Tyler Duncan and Irish John McSherry – met when Duncan was thirteen and McSherry was already an established musician.

What followed was a kind of journey from fan-boy to peer, wherein McSherry helped Duncan develop his craft; their relationship could be seen as that of muse, artist’s apprentice or simply friends.

Duncan looks like he could be in Arcade Fire and has an intensity that makes him seem like a natural lead, while McSherry seems quite humble throughout but is impressive as always as they play tracks from their debut.

Each song is definitively traditional but played with the essence of a rock band, the audience cheer every time the enthusiastic guitarist goes solo or strums with meaning, the bass lines are truly funky and the drummer has a knack in creating a lethargic, sexy beat.

The band would be an excellent introduction into traditional music for those who enjoy jazz, acoustic or rock music; frankly anyone with a real interest in music would appreciate their inventiveness.

Highlights include the clear and steady build of ‘The Belll’, the tense cymbals in ‘Devilll for my Hurt’ and encore ‘Wavesweeper’ that, to the surprise of the audience, takes us from brooding trad to joyous salsa.

Words: Leonie Colmar

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