Sunday, 8 February 2009
Kíla - Féile An Earraraigh
Each of the musicians who make up Kíla could hold an audience enthralled and sometimes it is a shame that their individual musicianship is lost in the wall of sound that dominates their concerts.
Not that the audience minded on Friday night at the Marquee outside Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast with many happy to leap around the place.
In a group of seven people in which four play traditional lead instruments – whistle, flute, uilleann pipes and fiddle – it is perhaps strange that the instrumental sound that defines them comes from the bodhran player Ronan Ó Snodaigh, who also takes on most of the vocals.
His drumming style is as individualistic as his singing voice with both owing more to tribal ceremonies of Australian Aborigines or North American Indians than Irish tradition.
He sings as Gaeilge (in Irish) in a staccato, almost rap like delivery while his drumming would cause an enemy tribe charging into an attack to stop short, do an about turn and run for the hills.
Ronan’s brother Colm played flute while a third Ó Snodaigh sibling, Rossa, swapped between mandolin and whistle and sometimes probably even played them both at the same time, for this is a multi-skilled band who seem to change instruments with songs.
Even Kíla’s only female member, Dee Armstrong, took a turn at bashing the drum kit and various bongos.
Lance and Brian Hogan on guitar and bass also took turns at percussion duties while Uilleann piper Eoin Dillon unstrapped his pipes for some acrobatics.
At one point all the group members abandoned their instruments to chant a backing to Ronan’s bodhran and lead vocal on one of their best known songs, ‘Bí An’.
Kíla often build their sound into a crescendo, distorting their instruments through various effects pedals in a sonic ensemble in which you struggle to distinguish what is flute, fiddle or pipes – although always through it all is that pounding Ó Snodaigh bodhran.
As a quick listen to any of their albums will confirm, Kíla’s members can all slow down and show off their individual instrumental techniques but in live situations they seem to have little appetite for such finesse and their aim seems to bombard their audience with a full-on aural assault.
You’ll never hear anyone say shhhh at a Kíla gig.
The band have a good website with some tracks and video footage at kila.ie.