Sharon Shannon at the Empire Music Hall

REVIEW: Sharon Shannon – Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Sharon Shannon at the Empire Music Hall

I got the distinct pleasure of sitting in Belfast’s Empire Music Hall and listening not only to great traditional Irish music, but also to a legend and fantastic Irish musician in the name of Sharon Shannon. A very talented musician who plays the tin whistle, accordion, melodion and has an amazing fiddle technique playing the violin.

With a host of multi-platinum albums, DVDs, singles and music in movies, TV shows and also in TV advertisements she really has achieved it all.

In 2009 she became the youngest person to receive the Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award and also won Most Downloaded Song twice with ‘Galway Girl‘, with the album of the same name going four times platinum; she has a host of accolades some people only dream about. She has been around the world, performed with many great artists including Steve Earle, Bono, Adam Clayton, Sinead O’Connor and has also performed for two US presidents, two Irish presidents and the Sultan of Brunei. However in the Empire this evening none of the above were either in attendance or on stage performing with her. Instead we had Sharon herself and two very talented musicians with her, and all three combined to set the stage alight with music.

Sharon Shannon at the Empire Music Hall
Sharon Shannon and band.

The whole aura in and around the stage had the feel of a traditional Irish pub setting where you would sit with a cold pint of Guinness whilst the band plays, and if you wanted to get up and dance you where encouraged as it was all good fun. From songs like ‘The Neck Belly Reels‘ which they started with, the tin whistle of ‘Rathlin Island‘ or the fiddle-playing technique used for a bit in a song on the setlist named ‘Fiddle‘, you were transported to a place that you could forget all anger and bad just to enjoy the music and craftsmanship that went into creating these delicate pieces of musical art.

Sharon Shannon
Photograph by Joe Carberry

During her set Sharon and the band interacted with the crowd, congratulating a couple in the front row on the birth of baby number two and also wishing a happy 60th birthday to another audience member by the name of Charlie.

The night as a whole seemed like everyone was a big happy family coming together as we all enjoyed the music that has been passed down from generation to generation. Sharon Shannon has gone above and beyond to incorporate different genres to traditional Irish music which is an exceptional achievement and a touch of class and brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and encourage anyone who hasn’t seen her to attend one of the shows as it is a concert with a homely feel that I’ve only encountered from that show. Matt Halliday, GiggingNI.com