Luke Plumb and Simon Bradley
From an article first published in Easdale People magazine,
Issue No 22, Spring/Summer 2005.
What I was interested in was how two men with one instrument each - a fidle and a bouzouki - might be able to keep an
audience interested for a whole evening's performance. In fact they had us spell bound.
Manchester man Simon Bradley is a fidler of immense resourcefulness,
having been at the heart of the tradition for many years, whilst his accompanist Luke Plumb, (of Shooglenifty), from Tasmania brings a
freshness and lightness to the music, simultaneously driving it along and
embellishing the tunes with an intricate
fiigree of ornamentation. There is a long tradition of duos of fidle-plus-stringed accompaniment, such as Tommy Peoples
and Paul Brady, Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn, and, Martin Hayes and Dennis
Cahill, but Simon and Luke bring their own unique slant to the music, which they draw from various strands of Irish,
Scottish and Asturian traditions with which they have had contact.
The tone of the performance was lighthearted, with anecdotes delivered by
Simon with his inimitable Mancunian
humour between the sets of tunes. This repartee paved the way for some
incredibly poised playing. Each set took us, the audience, on a journey away from this care-worn and busy life to a place of harmony, gentle reflection, and humourous beauty - a meditatative experience which made the evening seem very short indeed.
It was with some degree of envy that I noticed the simplicity of Simon and
Luke's set-up on-stage. I couldn't help comparing their streamlined,
minimal use of equipment, to the hideously complex arrangement of
gear which "Orchestra Macaroon", the band I play with, currently uses.
Luke and Simon simply bring their own high-quality microphones with
them, plug them in, stand in front of
them and off they go. No monitors, no feedback - a sound engineer's
dream, and in this way they manage to achieve a directness of presence in
their performance, unencumbered by excess technology!
Suddenly we realised that the concert had come to an end, time having stood still for two hours. We all piled into The Puffer for a pint and a tune with the lads, who were good enough to join us after a recuperative pint.
Let's hope they manage to make a return visit to these shores sometime
in the future, and treat us to another glimpse of the music they know.
review: Colin Blakey