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Sandy Denny - Where The Time Goes

- One Night Stand
Live at Vicar Street, Dublin

After six albums and ten years on the road across the world, a live DVD would seem a necessity. And I'm surprised it has taken this long for one to arrive, especially as the concert footage itself is well over eighteen months old. Perhaps to compensate for this, the DVD is certainly value for money. It features the concert at Vicar Street, Dublin, of May 2004, on-the-road footage, a history of the band and comprehensive interviews and biographical details of each member of the seven-piece band.

The concert alone would make for a good live souvenir of the band. Many special guests appear at the live gig, from dancer Stephen McCarthy to puppeteer Des Dillon, as well as some more well known Irish musicians, like Sharon Shannon and John Sheahan, and this adds a different dimension to the standard traditional music concert. Although tunes tend to have most air time, with each set usually led by one instrument and accentuated by the ensemble, it is the songs which have most impact and this is probably due to the wonderfully unusual contralto of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. Her rendition of Richard Thompson's 'Farewell,' infamously sung by Sandy Denny, is given a superb new interpretation where Denny's pauses are glossed over and new swells toyed with in places the listener does not expect, the flute developing the well-known melody.

The venue seems too formal for the traditional Irish music and the very Irish banter that is exchanged between band members and crowd. Danú are swathed in much blue and red light, and the audience appear to be seated in small clusters, giving the effect of an awards ceremony - something which the band, judging by the archives at the Folk Awards, are well accustomed to. And despite much of the set consisting of tunes, the audience have to make do with polite foot tapping, whoops and cheers. The extras on the DVD, though, make up for this formality, showing the band at home in their pub sessions.

And these extras are the highlight of the entire DVD. Each 'interview' is more like a character summary of the band member where each is depicted playing their instrument, at home and with the band. Those that do not even know much about Danú will be intrigued by the tales of musical family legacies and fascinated by the presentation of traditional music in Ireland. And the Irish tourist board would be delighted with the panoramic shots of various parts of Ireland and the pride that goes with it.

Sophie Parkes

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.