Stockton's Wing Reunion Concert 8th November 2003
A Select few Concerts Will be given in 2006 if you missed out.
By Gerry Quinn
A palpable drone of expectation gathered around Ennis' West County Hotel's function room prior to the appearance of Stockton's Wing for a once-off benefit concert in aid of Down Syndrome Awareness, and in particular the plight of 4 year old Orla Platten who suffers from atlanto-axial subluxation. Twenty years had passed since this assemblage of Kieran Hanrahan, Tommy Hayes, Paul Roche, Maurice Lennon and Mike Hanrahan played on stage together and now 1400 fans eagerly awaited the sound of fiery traditional music, the hallmark of a group who blazed a trail around the world in the late seventies and right throughout the eighties.
Though varying ensembles have traded under the moniker in the
interim, this was the Stockton's Wing line-up that many saw as being the most creative and
distinctive in the band's long career. The large audience shoe-horned into the venue were
not disappointed. A more passionate and powerful gig has not been witnessed in the Clare
town in recent times. Given the fact that little Orla is the niece of the Hanrahan
siblings, and Ennis was the birthplace of the "Wing" back in 1977, it was clear
"Light in the Western Sky" probably the group's finest album provided a satisfying source for some of the finer moments of this excellent concert. Instrumentals like "The Belltable" and "The Golden Stud" showcased their highly innovative approach to arranging and presenting traditional tunes, while songs like "Walk Away" and "Beautiful Affair" reaffirmed the reason why Stockton's Wing crossed over successfully into a more pop/folk market at the time.
The addition of "Dervish" members Tom Morrow on fiddle and Shane Mitchell on accordion for two sets of tunes, added to the frantic nature of the gig, but it was Ronnie Drew's collaboration that drew the bulk of approval from the ecstatic attendance. Earlier in the night the Dubliner had performed a potent set to a capricious and vacillating congregation, but on this occasion in the company of the home-town heroes, the hirsuted legend delivering "Now I'm Easy" and Mike Hanrahan's "We Had It All", had the large crowd spell-bound.
Other highlights included percussionist Tommy Hayes' spoon playing, while Paul Roche paid special tribute to the late Micho Russell with a fantastic rendition of "The Boy in the Gap" on the whistle. Good-natured fun, coupled with intense and passionate playing elevated this gig to that of epic proportions. The meritorious cause benefited immensely from the band's laudable and dynamic musical efforts, and the uproarious audience reaction added to the incredible buzz generated.
As a footnote, the fiddle playing of thirteen year old Tara Breen who opened the show, emphasised the fact that the conveyor-belt of traditional talent that exhibits prodigious Clare musicians, is as productive as ever: definitely one for the future.
And that was then.......
Dan Creary, Micheal O'Domhnaill, Kevin Burke, Maurice Lennon & Kieran Hanrahan
Tommy Hayes, Paul Roche, Keiran Hanrahan, Mick Barry, & Maurice Lennon
Older Photos courtesy of Mick Barry
Tara Music Photo