Derry’s spirit of music lives on

William Cherry/Presseye
William Cherry/Presseye

The superlatives will be thrown at Sunday night’s Sons and Daughters Concert but it is safe to say it has left Derry divided. There will be two camps following this City of Culture extravaganza, those that were there and those who wish they had been there.

Many of Derry’s finest musicians gathered at The Venue on Sunday night - the Journal’s Laurence McClenaghan was there to follow the action and it certainly proved a night to remember as acts lit up the stage and the thousands of faces in the audience.

The superlatives will be thrown at Sunday night’s Sons and Daughters Concert but it is safe to say it has left Derry divided. There will be two camps following this City of Culture extravaganza, those that were there and those who wish they had been there.

The ambition of the project was matched ounce for ounce by the outstanding performances. The sheer scale of the undertaking should not be underestimated: Imagine the reaction had you posed the following, only five years ago: -Will we invite all our world class performers to return home, share a bill and perform in a temporary structure on the site of the former Ebrington barracks?’

The Culture Company and more specifically the BBC turned the incredulous to incredible. For no other word sums up Sunday night as accurately as ‘incredible.’ If you missed it, in fact even if you were there, you wont want to miss Sons and Daughters on BBC One NI on Saturday, January 26 (10.30pm.)

The Venue, a temporary structure built for the Cultural celebrations has also won many deserving compliments. The interior is breathtaking, the stage magnificent. It is an arena that will bring much more to Derry than the rewards it has reaped for the city thus far. Despite having just staged the first of many concerts, The Venue has already showcased a wealth of talent the envy of booking agents everywhere.

Despite his many sold out world tours and platinum album sales, Phil Coulter, admitted he is more nervous playing his home town than he is Carnegie Hall: “I wished for something like tonight’s concert many times, to see it come to fruition is heart warming. I’m just glad to be alive to see it.”

Asked did he believe it would have been possible before now? Mr. Coulter replied: “No I don’t think so, not in an obvious way.

“There was always the energy and the talent in Derry.

“It is reassuring for me that the same talent and spirit of music is there with the younger generation.

“I certainly feel with tonight’s concert Derry is back.”

Having opened the concert with a touching performance of ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ Mr. Coulter, a five time Ivor Novello Award winner and a British Academy of Songwriter’s gold badge recipient closed proceedings with his latest song about Derry’s ‘Bright Brand New Day’ to a delighted audience who breezed rather than walked home across the Peace Bridge.

I’ll leave the last words to the lyricist’s latest refrain: “Sing it out. Sing it clear. Sing it so the world can hear. It’s a bright brand new day.”