THE DOONANS – Dorking Folk Club 07.10.09

Gawd blimey guv’nor let’s dispense with the bankers of this world and give these lads (and lass) a rise. Playing to a packed club, The Doonans have boundless energy and take no prisoners in a display of musicianship, dancing and vocal gymnastics that would put Michael Flatley to shame. Blasting on stage with a set of tunes including an old Hedgehog Pie favourite “The Big Kerry Reel” featuring Mick Doonan’s trademark piccolo, Kevin Doonan’s fiddle plus the driving rhythm of Stu Luckley (guitar) and Phil Murray’s pounding acoustic bass (and you don’t see many of those) the spectacle was topped by the agility of the group’s dancer Frances Doonan. Between them, Mick and Stu hold court with strident vocals on standards such as “The Blackleg Miner”, “Here’s The Tender Coming” and Ewan MacColl’s “Moving On Song” but it’s the more contemporary acoustic settings of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home” and Labbi Siffre’s “Something Inside So Strong” that will linger in the memory.20And that’s what sets this band apart. Diversification in the hands of lesser mortals could make for uncomfortable bed-fellows but, as displayed with such vigour and not a little humour (mainly provided by Phil) you can ‘entertain’ as well as prove your credentials as a serious artiste…a rare thing indeed. With musicianship well to the fore utilising Mick’s Uillean Pipes, Flute, Whistle and Saxophone the group never once let up the pace in the best part of a 2 hour set that all too soon came to an end with an encore of the classic “Wild Mountain Thyme” that had the audience joining in as if they were auditioning for the TV programme “The Choir”. I can’t wait for next time I see the band and in these days of doom and gloom anything that leaves you smiling can’t be a bad thing.