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Another great night's entertainment at HQ (Dublin) on Friday, 23 May, when DANÚ played to a packed house.

Winners of Best Live Act at last year's Irish Music Awards, the group are just back from Canada, but looking fresh and playing brilliantly! These guys love what they do - and all seven of them are SO talented - tight ensemble arrangements, flashing fingerwork, and support chording always blended perfectly with the melody lines.

We had reels and jigs that had the crowd stamping and cheering, songs in both Irish and English, and a 'fantasmagorical' (!) solo on the bodhrán (what is it about the bodhrán that touches something so primitive in us?). I'd have loved a few more slow airs, but the audience wanted the pulse of the dance tunes, and, with bouzouki, accordion, flute, fiddle, bodhrán, uileann pipes and guitar, that's what Danú gave them.

Maith sibh, Danú!

© Nora Uí Duíbhír, 2001

Ireland is a land of many contradictions, and nowhere is this more evident these days than the group Danú: young, hip, fresh, and new—yet steeped in the tradition, soaked with respect for what's come before, and thoroughly grounded in the craft of their art.

A group of seven young bucks such as this might be dismissed as the Backstreet Boyz of Irish trad were it not for the music—with the soul of a rock and roll band and the heartbeat of Irish traditional music. Their music—reel, jig, and song—reaches deep into a place that people have been trying to explain ever since the music was first heard by someone other than the Irish...and perhaps even before then.

The group, inevitably nicknamed The Magnificent Seven, has stirred up critical acclaim wherever they go. Critics note their ability to build seamlessly upon tradition, their facile musicianship. They speak of emotion and strength and beauty; they write the sort of prose generally reserved for poems of love. It doesn't matter, nothing seems to faze these lads; on they go to the next tune.

Danú has maintained a breakneck pace, traveling seemingly ceaselessly, recording, struggling to find time for sessions and prolifically writing their own music. They've a new release to get out there come this summer, and their tour schedule is not letting up. Bands come and go, but apparently Danú takes this rather more literally than most. A look at their concert schedule tends to make one think that perhaps there are more busy people than one's self.

Through it all is the thread of the music and the love of that music. Danú flows from strength to strength, from old tune to new, from toe-tapping reel to welling air. There's also a sort of humble pridefulness that lets you know that they'll never be too good for a few tunes in some pub. There's no doubt that these Young Men of Irish music will in the future number among the Old Men that they so clearly respect in the present.

The Celtic Cafe will be profiling the lads in depth in the near future, but until then you can visit them at their official website. There'll be more pictures of these fine lads in concert after this week, as well as a feature story, so check back often.

  © Zina Lee, 2001