Sarah Culley

  September 1994

Image by Sarah Culley in the Irish Times 07/09/94

“When The Harcourt welcomes, it does so magnanimously; when it doesn’t, it can have all the bleakness of a railway platform at night.

On this occasion it proved a “greasy pole” challenge to Noel Hill (concertina) with Tony Linnane (fiddle), Mick Giblin (guitar) and Nora De Burca (song). Rising to meet it with their 1978 album’s lead track, The Humours of Ballyconnell and The Drunken Landlady, then Tom Ward’s Downfall and The Mountain Road, there was an invigorating start. Fine playing followed in Sixpenny Money where the chirpy, chanter like concord of their relaxed harmony was highlighted by graceful, regulator-and-droneevocative, left-hand work by Hill. A whiff of audience ignorance precipitated a false start on Johnny Cope, driving him a little too briskly on this, his piece de resistance. Back in control, Tony Linnane delivered a thoroughly warm, relaxed solo with Wheels of the World and Rakish Paddy, and the set finished tastefully on another of their strong duets – The Home Ruler and Kitty’s Wedding.

Hill’s characteristically conservative approach was, as always, bellied by the neatness of his beautifully honed variations and accents. His ability to meter ornamentation from Calvanistic trickle  – the Clare concertina “lift” – to Broadway bustle, was shown nowhere better than in the build up from stark simplicity to orchestral complexity on the Mrs Crotty piece, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and, too, on the austere, Micho Russel-inspired Black-Haired Lass.” – Irish Times 07/09/94