Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kept Catholics - 50 Years of the Chieftains.

(Thanks Garth)

Just a little caveat here before we go.
I had never seen the Chieftains before.
So I am speaking from a position of total informed ignorance
An ignorance I was relatively happy with until a haphazard offer of a ticket.
So why not?
The Chieftains have been around. And you don't get to stay around for 50 years unless you got something.
They have to have something.

And they do.
But it's bizarre.
And irritating.

At least I got to to the Grand Canal Theatre.
Cool, deconstructivist, Lost in Translation elegance.
One of those few occasions where chi chi manages to put a bit of effective spin on emptiness.

 Capitalism may have launched the Grand Canal Theatre.
But it has taken socialism to guide it safely back to earth.
And for socialism, just read you.
Tax-payer take a bow.
The Chieftains suggested you give a round of applause to Harry Crosbie.
I suggest you give yourself a clap.
You got a little back.
I know it's a minor compensation.
But the stunning surrounds almost make it feel worth it.
Can't quite say the same about the music.
There's something about the group's sound that seems to endorse and celebrate the very deviant sentimentality which wreaked havoc across the country, slaying prospects and murdering hope but just happened to drop this jewel in the neo-liberal safari park they call the docklands.
Other such kool aid constructs and paeans to hubris like the U2 tower never got to the good side of hallucination.

But back to Paddy Maloney.

Just when you are starting to see what all the fuss is about. 
It's back to fucking Paddy Moloney.
As an artefact of delicate sonic beauty starts to shimmer in front of you, along comes Paddy Moloney.
Hal Roche. Vegas leprechaun. Duffy ringmaster.
Presented with the possibility of beauty, Paddy Maloney opts for buffoonery.

Then sound and fury. And on comes a Marching Pipe band.
All Celtic Kipling.  Stomp and pomp.
We've taken the wild out of these colonial boys.
This is stiff upper lip stuff.
The band, all shorn and sideburned, look like they just came from back a "good crack at the Boer" rather than off a bus from Limerick.
Apparently we are hearing the tales of Paddies out fighting in the Mexican civil war.
This is strange.
It's rousing.
Definitely militaristic.
Might even be a touch of the fascistic.

But then comes the flute.
A feminine counterattack.
No more stomping.
This is the stuff of lightfooted beguile.
All charm and enrapture.
And then the complexity of the fiddle...

And then .....then it's back to Fucking Hal Roach.

Centre stage Maloney starts looking at his watch.
"Don't be losing the run of yourself there boyo!"
For grubby laughs,  Paddy gesticulates at his watch while raising his eyes to heaven.
That's witty Paddy!
Sure why would you want spectral magic when you can have cheap laughs.
And he pulls the same stunt again and again.
But this time it's even more orchestrated, an act of premeditated charlatanism.
An act of articide.
The Chieftain's court jester, a wild Nova Scotian goes "tinker mad" on a violin solo.
And in the middle of the maelstrom, the fiddler's mobile phone rings.
It's Paddy Maloney pretending to make a call.
Jesus. Isn't that great gas!

Why celebrate what you do when you can denigrate it?
But that seems to be the thing with The Chieftains.
There does not seem to be any real reverence for the music.
At the same time there is something faux about their casualness.
They try and pretend that the brilliance slips out by accident.
It's like no one wants to step up and embrace that brilliance.
No-one wants to be a star.
So we are fed upfront distraction.
Young ones leaping.
Click-clacking Peig Astaires.
All with a strong smell of Flatley.

I don't know.
But it all struck me as very "Kept Catholic."

(The above kicked off a little bit of a fuss - you can check it out here)

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