The Egg is a lovely performance space: unfortunately it’s smack in the middle of the Empire State Plaza, a structure designed and built in the infernal realms (there’s a plaque that says so, I swear it). Between the normal Byzantine route required to actually enter the plaza and then hope to find parking and the various constructions closing roads, I literally sat down in my seat as the lights went down.
Fortunately, as soon as the music started all the irritation slipped away. McKennitt’s golden voice and harp flow like water over you, rippling. The crowd remained enthusiastic throughout. The intimacy of the trio was a change from the bigger bands she has used for recent projects. Brian Hughes played guitar (sometimes just as a drone), mandolin and bazouki. The utterly amazing Caroline Lavelle played cello, concertina and recorder. The woman from Cornwall found quite a few new fans that night: you can see why.
McKennitt told some amusing stories as well as singing beautifully. She’s working on putting together a one-woman show about the lives of the Irish who emigrated to Canada during the famine years. She read from journals and historic documents, telling the story of the terrible effects of that time. Very moving.
The sold-out audience made their sentiments known and she came back for two encores. People would have been happy to have her stay all night and play all the hits. I was happy she played my favourite song; my short story collection Unquiet Dreams got its name from the same Yeats poem.