Review Summary: A blend of rock and jazz brilliantly topped off with a large dose of beautiful Irish melody. Moving Hearts really does move your heart.
I’ll first state that I simply love Irish music. Be it traditional Irish and Celtic songs, to the incorporation of it with genres like rock or metal, I just can’t get enough. Moving Hearts is one of these hybrids between Irish and modern music. A large rock and jazz influence, played in unison with strong and moving Irish melodies, is basically what Moving Hearts is all about. This particular show, recorded both as a live DVD and a live CD, is purely instrumental. Moving Hearts originally began with vocals when they first formed in 1981, but over the course of their short 4 album career they slowly moved away from vocalised music towards more instrumental and progressive music. They were very popular in Ireland at the time, although I’m unsure whether their music was exported anywhere else. What I found out was that the reason the band did not last very long was because it simply wasn’t profitable for each member. The line-up was constantly changing, and they often used a very large line up of at least 6 members, usually more. Still, each album was well received by the listeners, and even now the band commands a certain sentiment to those who were there back in the day.
Live in Dublin is a recording of a show Moving Hearts played on Dublin’s Vicar Street, a gig showcasing songs from all 4 of their albums. It is entirely instrumental, but I’ve never been so captivated by an instrumental album before. I had the opportunity to watch the DVD as well, which made the experience all the more enlightening.
Each song basically has a certain rhythm and/or melody, which are gradually added to by the myriad of instruments, until the song bursts into a climax that really puts a smile on your face and gets your head nodding. There honestly was not much variation in all the songs, but I still found every single one of them enjoyable to listen to. There are moments of great relaxation where you can close your eyes, lie down and simmer in the atmosphere, and then moments where you just feel like getting up on your feet and doing a jig. I personally think that the inclusion of vocals with the songs showcased on this live album would make each song worse; each song relies on the strength of the musicians playing each instrument, and lucky for the band all of them can pull it off.
The line-up of the show consisted of nine musicians, all of them being vital in creating the mixture of influence that is Moving Hearts.
Davy Spillane – Uilleann Pipes and Low Whistle
Keith Donald – Saxophone and Bass Clarinet
Kevin Glackin – Fiddle
Donal Lunny – Bazouki and Baritone Guitar
Anto Drennan – Electric Guitar
Graham Henderson – Keyboards
Eoghan O’Neill – Bass
Matt Kelleghan – Drums
Noel Eccles – Percussion
Of the nine musicians, the real star of the show is Davy Spillane. In case you are unaware of what the Uilleann Pipes are, they are an instrument very similar to the bagpipes, but they are not blown into. Rather, after balancing the instrument on your knee, one uses the inside of his arm and elbow to squeeze the bag and therefore create the flow of air required to play the music. They do not sound very much like the bagpipes, but have an absolutely beautiful sound. Davy Spillane is, without a doubt, the absolute star of the show. Every time the music builds up and Spillane lets loose on the pipes, not only does it sound amazing but the roar from the crowd really gets your blood pumping. And then to top it off, we have Keith Donald on the saxophone. Throughout each song, there are moments where certain melodies will be played separately by either the pipes or the sax, and then sometimes in unison. The blend of Irish melody and jazz is the most apparent with this combination, and it is what really defines the sound that Moving Hearts has.
I consider myself lucky to have been introduced to this band, due to its relative obscurity outside of Ireland. They’re a wonderful group, and truly show an excellent modernisation of Irish music. This live album serves not only as a live album, but also as a greatest hits, of which I don’t think exist. This is definitely a CD that should be listened to by those who are into Irish music and jazz.