Review: Chills abound with Interference – Hot Press

Review of the June 6, 2003 Interference concert at Vicar Street, by Peter Murphy:

Interference were always on the outside of the in-crowd, a peculiar hybrid of muso chops and stoner rock distinguished by soaring vocals and virtuoso violin. Tonight, roughly 15 years after their inception, was a sort of Last Waltz extravaganza organised by allies of Fergus O’ Farrell determined that he should reap the glory of the live stage before the deterioration wrought by muscular dystrophy makes such events an impossibility.

It was often emotional stuff of course, but if this was O’ Farrell operating on one third of his lung power and tired after two days of intensive rehearsal, then most of the vocalists on the scene could be thankful for their egos he wasn’t on full throttle. The first set, basically a reprise of the recent Other Voices set, was actually superior to the electric finale that closed the show – a subtle performance full of intuitive playing and, above all, intensive listening.

But the second act was truly extraordinary, starting from ‘Not Beholden’, a co-write with Maria Doyle Kennedy, O’ Farrell’s neo-classical modulations offset by MDK’s red blooded vocal, somewhat akin to Michael Nyman backing Bessie Smith. There followed the arrival onstage of Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer, not men to do things by halves. The pair’s contribution was a full-blown operetta entitled ‘Here In Your Dreams’, effectively a polyphonic dialogue between deceased and bereaved. Chills abounded, and continued to resonate through a string-driven version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Who By Fire’.

From the trauma of death to the trauma of birth: Mannix Flynn performed the first movement of James X, enacting the childbearing process as a state of emergency. Mannix’s wordplay could wake Finnegan, and his delivery, timing and vocal range were exemplary.

As I said, the subsequent electric set needed pruning, the flow disrupted by pesky tuning delays and so forth, but given what had gone before, only the churlish could complain, especially when Iarla O’ Lionaird offered a perfectly pitched closing sean nos lullaby.

Quite a night.