Feck Fest!

Posted on Sunday 20th November 2016 10:26 by FreckFest

What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?” asks Eleanor McEvoy to a rapt audience during last Thursday night’s well-deserved encore. She answers her own question before anyone gets a chance to reply. “About six t’ousand Euros, dat’s what!” and she laughs a hearty laugh. Boom boom! She then picks up her ‘violin’ and plays a beautiful, straightforward piece of classical music before morphing the lilting air into a high energy, foot-stomping Irish jig, by now being played on her ‘fiddle’. It’s the same instrument, of course.



As a fiddle and violin are one and the same, musical snobbery can often get in the way, denying the listener the opportunity to expand their horizons, but as Eleanor points out, good music is good music, whatever the genre. Over the course of her terrific show, Eleanor’s theory is put to good practice; if she wasn’t singing heartbreaking songs of love and loss on her acoustic guitar she was paying tribute to Leonard Cohen by way of Jeff Buckley on a sparse, spell-bounding take on ‘Hallelujah’, her electric guitar all reverb, shimmer and twang. If she wasn’t singing a-cappella she was breaking into a spontaneous half-sung, half-rapped run through of Sly Stone’s ‘If You Want Me To Stay’……accompanied only by a shaken and shoogled box of Swan Vestas matches. If she wasn’t cherry picking the highlights of an impressive back catalogue, played on an electric keyboard with the graceful finesse of a concert pianist, she was accompanying herself on a jaunty version of ‘God Only Knows’ (for reasons that mystify even her, it’s a hit in Germany) that sounded for all the world like one of those old Victoria Wood skits from the 80s. And I mean that in the best possible way.


Eleanor McEvoy is impossible to pigeonhole, and a lot of music folk don’t seem to like that. They like their music to be rock or pop or soul or jazz or folk or blues or classical, but not a stew of everything and anything. Eleanor takes all these influences and more and stirs them into a big original pot of musical soup.


She is terrific. Given that she’s nearing the end of a tour that’s taken her to Australia, Europe and the States, she’s also very skilled at playing live. I’ll let you into a reviewer’s secret here – normally when I go to a show by someone whose music I’m not that familiar with, I’ll take a sneaky snap of the setlist and make sure I refer to the lesser-known songs during the review. I had no chance of that on Friday, as Eleanor seemingly did the show from her head. She spontaneously jumped from one song to another; a few on the acoustic guitar followed by a few on the electric guitar, then over to the piano, then back to the electric, back once again to the acoustic, and so on. “Oh! Oh! I meant to play this!” she remarks at one point, and she’s off and running with a story followed by the song.


Eleanor McEvoy is a bit like a slightly eccentric aunt, the aunt without children who revels in winding up the nieces and nephews before departing once everyone is wound up to the max. By the end of the show, we’re wound up to the max and wanting more. I can guarantee you that everyone who was there on Thursday night will be telling their friends about Eleanor McEvoy. She’s the real deal, folks. Spread the word.

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