The Gloaming – Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, and Thomas Bartlett – are headed back to London after their sold-out Union Chapel show in February.
The band, who released their second album ‘The Gloaming 2’ earlier this year, play Royal Festival Hall on 22 September as part of a national tour.
The five-piece were formed when fiddle player Hayes proposed the idea of forming a band to longtime collaborator Cahill, a Chicago-based guitarist. In early 2011 they were joined by sean-nós singer Ó Lionárd, New York pianist and producer Bartlett (aka Doveman), and hardanger fiddler Ó Raghallaigh.
“Vocals, two fiddles, a guitar and a piano – it doesn’t sound like a traditional band really. It doesn’t sound like it should sound,” says Hayes.
“I remember the first time I heard Martin play,” adds Bartlett, “and there was something that happened to my body that I hadn’t experienced before, where I felt like my heart would expand and contract with the way he was playing .”
His playing is complemented by the drones and abstract textures created by Ó Raghallaigh.
“Caoimhin was part of a new generation of musicians, young and thoughtful,” explains Hayes. “It’s not so easy in a traditional music form to find your voice; it’s a tricky thing, and he did, he found a unique voice and a very unique way of playing.”
While Cahill’s minimalist, punctuating guitar style adds a percussive element to the folk tradition shared by Hayes, Ó Lionárd, and Ó Raghallaigh, Bartlett helps expand The Gloaming’s sound.
“Maybe why this band is working well,” the pianist says, “is that I don’t recognise the lines that the rest of this band sees. They’re very happy to go outside of those boundaries, but the fact that I don’t even know the tradition helps make them disappear.”
Offers Hayes: “Everybody in the band is musical outlier in some ways. No musician in the band is what I would consider mainstream in any way.”
Nonetheless the 2014 winners of the Meteor Choice Prize for Irish album of the year have performed at major concert halls in countries as far afield as Australia, Mexico, Canada, and Germany, and sold out the Barbican and Dublin’s National Concert Hall in Dublin – for five nights.