- 07 Oct 18
The Mighty Kíla Go To The Movies. Ár Fear Ag Na Scannáin: Pat Carty (D, Pass Irish, Inter Cert, 1987. And Hard Won It Was Too)
In the grand tradition of Tabhair Foscadh Dom, An Waltz Dheireanach, and even Gliogar Agus Crónán, rock n’ ceol merchants, Kíla, have finally gotten around to releasing their road movie. Pota Óir – that’s Pot Of Gold for the uneducated – is cause for a massive bualadh bos from all corners as we’re talking about one of the finest live bands in the land. I’ve heard rumours that before being even considered for membership, musicians had to both jump over a branch as tall as themselves and stand in a hole up to their waist and defend themselves from other band members using only a shield and a hazel stick, but I'd wager the real entrance exam is far more fiendish. Let me put it this way, Kíla are such a live force to be reckoned with that I strongly suspect were I to die during one of their concerts, it would take a team of top undertakers roughly twenty-four hours to carve the rictus grin off my face.
A visual accompaniment to their 2017 live album, Beo/Alive, the film, directed with consummate skill by Anthony White, opens in glorious black and white, which serves not only to make the band look ridiculously cool, but also vaselines over the cracks in bass monster Brian Hogan’s ancient face. Resplendent in long hair, jewellery and motorcycle boots, the man looks like he could have clerked for Lemmy. He is most assuredly a long way, as are the rest of the band, from the aran jumpers and fingers in the ear image of folk musicians of old, but then so is this music, which is hardly folk at all but a mixture of the many wonderful streams that they used to stack in the "World" section back when we had record shops.
First up is ‘Mutatu’, which I believe is the title the X-Men movies were released under in Corsica. It’s an elastic thing fashioned from uilleann pipes, bass and conga drums, before a flute breakdown – not a phrase you hear often enough - where things really take off.
Fiddle botherer Dee Armstrong tries to explain what’s going on in the track ‘Pota Óir’ itself, utilising paltry terms like ‘melody’ and ‘counter melody’, but language is next to useless when faced with alchemy such as this. Mind you, her words are like Yeatsian whispers when compared to Rónán Ó Snodaigh’s – the Jimi Hendrix of the bodhrán – frankly borderline-insane tale of rambling around Kerry and finding fairy gold, and fairy women, in a hole in the ground. My advice would be stop eating plants that you find growing wild under a rock. The song is woven in a fashion that would have Rumpelstilskin beaming with pride.
What else do we learn?
- The band’s name either translates as “bloated testicles” or “everything” depending on what part of the world map you call home.
- Even Hogan, in full muso flight, can’t talk the good out of something as innately groovy as ‘Electric Landlady’, although he takes a good run at it.
- As a focal point, Ó Snodaigh would be pretty hard to beat
- You would believe anything that comes out a beard as magnificent as the one that Colm Ó Snodaigh sports.
- The “air” of ‘Babymouse’ would make you weep tears for an Ireland you can’t even remember
- Rónán Ó Snodaigh could talk to you about accountancy and you’d still be transfixed.
- Once you hear Polish singer Kayah join in on ‘Seo Mo Leaba/Am Reel’ your internal organs will never be the same again, and it would take a bucket of gel to get the hair on your arms to sit back down.
The film manages that rare feat of giving you a glimpse of the power the band have live – see ‘Skinheads’ for evidence – and would surely prompt anyone watching to make plans to see the band in the flesh as soon as possible. Good news then, you can still get tickets for their big show in the National Stadium around Christmas, part of their on-going 30 year anniversary celebrations which also saw the re-release of their essential Tóg É Go Bog É album from 1998.
Pota Óir is now available to buy from all the usual places, and here’s the trailer if you’re still not convinced.
Hot Press was lucky enough to be asked to the premiere last year in the IFI and cornered Brian and Rónán for a chat, which was captured by our German outside broadcast team.