Two concerts: Altan and Susan McKeown

Last week I was lucky enough to attend two excellent concerts, Altan at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, on Tuesday, September 6, and then Susan McKeown at Fez in NYC on Friday, September 10.

First up, I was joined at the Iron Horse by both Jenn and soon-to-be-famous author Elizabeth Bear (aka Sarah), and we got a table right up against the stage. I’d seen Altan several times before, both at the Iron Horse and elsewhere, but being up close was a definite treat. The band was in fine form, and moved smoothly from blazingly fast sets of tunes to slow, quiet songs, with plenty of banter to fill up the pauses in between. Every time I see Altan I’m always impressed by just how talented each and every member of the band is, and they definitely demonstrated that again. Wow. If you’ve any interest in Irish traditional music at all, you need to see Altan live.

Then later in the week Jenn and I made the trek down to New York City to see Susan at perform at Fez, a venue I’d seen her play many times before. Susan’s latest album, Sweet Liberty, is one my favorites of 2004, so I was very much looking forward to another chance to see her do some of those songs live. She was joined by Dana Lyn (fiddle), Eamon O’Leary (guitars and banjo), Jon Spurney (guitars), Lindsey Horner (upright bass), and Allison Miller (drums), a combination later described as the “folk-rock sextet,” for a set that combined some of the best tracks off of the new album with some of my favorites from past years. Since I grabbed a copy of the set list (something that’s become a tradition when I attend one of Susan’s shows), I can actually tell you what songs she did.

Fair Annie
Caledonia
Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Ballinaboula
In London So Fair
Shamrock Green
Pilgrim
Eggs In Her Basket
When I Was On Horseback
Rocky
Lowlands
Prophecy
Wheels of the World
South
River

Sweet Liberty
The Winter It Is Past

While it was probably the first time I’ve attended a Fez show where she didn’t close the main set with “Snakes,” it was a fine list of songs and a great show. Not that I’d expected anything else from Susan, which is one of the reasons I didn’t hesitate to make the trip down to the city to see her.

After the show we hung around to talk with Susan awhile before we started the trip back, and I’ll be looking forward to the next time I both get to chat with her again and see her perform. She’s going to be playing at Carnegie Hall in November (with The Klezmatics and Arlo Guthrie), so we’ll have to see whether or not I make it to that.

One Response to “Two concerts: Altan and Susan McKeown”

  1. jenn Says:

    “She’s going to be playing at Carnegie Hall in November (with The Klezmatics and Arlo Guthrie),”

    Wow. The Klezmatics and Arlo Guthrie. Sounds worthwhile to me!