- 19 Feb 20
Eleanor McEvoy, Maura O'Connell and Wallis Bird joined the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for a live performance of the iconic album.
Music industry folklore has it that Hot Press was the first publication to review the “Woman’s Heart” compilation when it arrived with minimal expectations in 1992, so it was fitting to be there to see Eleanor McEvoy, Maura O’Connell and Wallis Bird re-enact the album with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra piloted by Gavin Murphy’s baton.
Three-quarters of a million sales in Ireland later, it was refreshing to note how well the songs still stack up for a concert that had a party atmosphere. The first three or four songs had Bird and McEvoy’s voices occasionally lost in the mix, but after a rejuvenated out-of-retirement O’Connell arrived, matters picked up and never looked back as they took it in turns to command the spotlight. O’Connell herself delivered a superb ‘Living In These Troubled Times’, its contemporary relevance not lost on the audience, and ‘Summerfly’. She also fitted in heart-warming versions of the Edith Piaf hit ‘If You Love Me (Really Love Me)’ and her own ‘Shades of Gloria’.
Wallis Bird got the audience’s vocal chords warmed up with a thoughtful run-through of Paul Brady’s ‘The Island’, Mick Hanly’s classic ‘Past The Point of Rescue’ and her emotional take on Dougie McLean’s ‘Caledonia’ had a visible effect on O’Connell and others. Bird also did a spot of eccentric dancing as fit the mood, and her feisty ‘Woman, Oh Woman’ and a remarkable a capella ‘Home’ struck chords with the people.
But it was McEvoy’s night, her song having set the ball rolling back when. She applied her violin skills to an adaptation of ‘Blackbird’ played on the original album by Sharon Shannon. She excelled on a brisk ‘Vanities’, and her piano-and-vocal solo on her own ‘Sophie’, about a young girl’s struggles with anorexia, was stunning. All three singers joined forces for ‘Oft In the Stilly Night’ in McEvoy’s re-arrangement for her Thomas Moore album, and the trio also blended blues, gospel and rock-lite from ‘The Blessing’ from O’Connell’s Walls and Windows.
Following the obligatory singalongfest of ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’, special guest Mary Black was given a thunderous ovation after she lead the way on her trademark ‘Sonny’, before they brought the curtain down with Dolly Parton’s ‘Nine To Five’. Thus ended a truly celebratory night for a genuine, Irish musical phenomenon. As for where the franchise goes next, could it be audition time for A Woman’s Heart On Ice?
A Woman's Heart Orchestrated returns to the National Concert Hall, Dublin tonight (February 19).