A couple weeks back I received an email from an outfit that offers discounts on entertainment and products in the Atlanta area. The headline offered discounted tickets for the Atlanta Symphony Pops concert featuring The Chieftains, the 50 year old Irish band created and lead by 76 year old Paddy Moloney. I’ve heard their music over the years, seen them at the Grammy’s, read about collaborations with the likes of Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello and many others too numerous to list.
The Atlanta Symphony Pops series is more lighthearted than the Symphony concerts. There’s usually a theme and guest(s)….an evening of classical and ‘pops’ music popular with serious and casual listeners. Neither Margaret nor I knew what to expect from The Chieftains, just thought it would be something different to do on a Friday night. Well, what a great evening it was. The band strolled on stage, Paddy in the lead with eight or nine other musicians, some long time members, some young guns. There was a woman on harp and keyboard, a couple fiddle players, guitarist/squeeze box, mandolin, flutist and a couple others. Paddy played a tin whistle and the Uilleann pipes (he’s a master of both) and he MC’d in his thick Irish brogue that needed subtitles. These are all serious musicians who play with great passion.
We were treated to more than just music; after a couple numbers out came a lithe female dancer whose feet were a blur as she danced a jig with the male violinist and another dancer sporting red pants that looked like fire as he flew the air. This trio performed off and on during the night. There was an excellent female singer along with the band’s bodhrán drummer who had an excellent voice. But wait, there’s more; there appeared a 15-16 person choir from Atlanta, the Atlanta Pipe Band, another group of five dancers, a film of a female astronaut playing a tin pipe while floating around on the International Space Station with the live band accompanying her….and then the Atlanta Symphony took their seats and played another great set of songs with The Chieftains, the highlight being a call and response with the principle french horn playing a very quick tempo Mozart piece and the Chieftains responding with a similar Irish tune. At one point during his performance the animated french horn musician sat down on the conductors podium feigning exhaustion….very funny.
Regardless to say the audience was totally invested in this great evening of entertainment. After over fifty years of performing one would think it would get old and stale, but Paddy knows how to keep it fresh and fun by recruiting a wide variety of talented entertainers while staying true to his traditional Irish roots. I chose this show on a whim, without expectations, and we were treated to a great evening of entertainment. As Margaret said at show’s end; ‘I’m worn out’! We definitely got our money’s worth and then some. I know it’s late notice but there’s one more show tonight…if you can get tickets do so!