The Shee

Guildhall, Lichfield

18 October 2014

It seems to be two years since I last saw The Shee, which is far too long. Long enough for me to forget how utterly brilliant they are live. Two hours of beautiful, up-beat songs and tunes played with incredible skill and enthusiasm.

There's something that makes The Shee different from any other folk band I've seen live. It's the unique mix of instruments (flute, fiddles, mandolin, accordion, electro-harp). It's the eclectic mix of material (traditional Scottish ballads, old-time Americana, new self-written songs and tunes). It's the mix of three singers with three highly distinctive voices. It's the incredible instrumental dexterity of all six band members. And it's the complex song arrangements that take full advantage of all these elements.

With three albums to draw from, it was inevitable that they were going to miss out a lot of things I like. But they chose a set that highlighted all their individual and collective strengths and showed off the variety of styles they play. And they played the song I most hoped they would, which I don't think I've heard them play since the very first time I saw them in Durham five years ago — their incredibly beautiful arrangement of MacCrimmon's Lament, which literally gave me goosepimples when I heard it.

Looking round, the audience, it was obvious that many had never heard the band before, but I think everyone left the hall as a fan tonight.

Me? I left the hall thinking it was the best concert I have ever seen.

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