“Open the window in the centre of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out”
Philip King’s reading of Rumi’s ‘Where Everything Is Music’ set the perfect tone for a night of tribute to Fergus O’Farrell, the Schull-based Interference vocalist who had died exactly a year previously at the age of 48. Spirits did indeed fly as some of the greats of the Irish music scene joined forces with a hefty West Cork contingent for a sold-out concert that produced some truly magic moments.
Glen Hansard, Mundy and Liam O’Maonlai were among those gathered for a man who, while never as famous as any of them, really did deserve to be better known beyond the musicians’ circles and serious fans who held him in awe.
O’Farrell had muscular dystrophy, a muscle-wasting disease that progressively robbed him of the ability to walk, and play instruments. Music remained central to his life, however, and the evidence of tonight’s concert suggests some of his songs will surely take on new life.
Standouts included Mundy’s rousing version of ‘Breaking Out’, a tune that’s still so powerful 15 years after it was recorded for Other Voices in a session that was also released as an Interference album, Live in Dingle. It’s a song with a depth and a range to still be a hit for anyone, from the Birr man covering it tonight, all the way to the likes of Guns N’ Roses.
O’Farrell’s best-known tune, ‘Gold’, was on the soundtrack to Hansard’s film Once, and tonight the affable Frames’ frontman joined in a gorgeous Irish translation of it with O’Farrell’s niece Róisín Little.
The evening was imbued with further emotional charge through the presence of Camilla Griehsel on backing vocals. She had been at the funeral of her husband - musician Colin Vearncombe, killed in a car accident in West Cork last year – when word had begun to filter through about her friend O’Farrell’s passing.
As is inevitable with such ensemble events, the proceedings got a bit loose at times, but even those who didn’t know O’Farrell couldn’t help but be moved for those moments when great songs, superb musicianship and, most importantly, a whole lot of love, came together to create something special. O’Farrell, and probably even Rumi, would have been proud.
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