Rumours Re-Told | Ards International Guitar Festival

Rumours Re-Told | Ards International Guitar Festival

Photography & Review:  Michael Barbour

This is a concert with a concept. It’s been just over 40 years since Fleetwood Mac released the Rumours album and it went on to become the biggest-selling record in a generation; at the last count 45 million copies have been sold. To mark this anniversary, the Ards International Guitar Festival made the decision to theme an evening’s music around the album, playing the album in its entirety and inviting a range of musicians to re-interpret the tracks in their own styles.

The artists involved in this concert looks like a “who’s who” of local Northern Irish talent, which probably explains why there wasn’t a free seat to be had in Newtownards’ Queens Hall. Up on stage were Anthony Toner, Ken Haddock, Matt McGinn, Donal Scullion, Brigid O’Neill, Stevie Moore, Gary Lutton, Billy Cook, Gavin Ferris, Suzy Coyle, Ellen Weir, Cormac Neeson, and a few more besides.

Organised and marshalled by Paul McMordie, the house band for the evening is a six-piece affair featuring Junior Afrifa, Davy Bates and Ross Montgomery complete with a revolving bank of backing vocalists. Anthony Toner is on lead guitar duties and his playing is sublime. The first section of the evening serves up the first six tracks from the album, opening with Donal Scullion powering through Second Hand News. Ken Haddock was outstanding, belting out Don’t Stop and using his rich and soulful voice to maximum effect and this was followed by Matt McGinn and Suzy Coyle having great fun dueting on Go Your Own Way. The first set finishes with a note-perfect rendition of Songbird by Ellen Weir accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano.

After side one of the album, we head into an interlude section, with a different group of artists including Lazy Flies, Matthew Malcolm, Amrit Sond, Narciso Saul, Paddy Anderson Flamenco and Una Clarkin providing alternate arrangements of tracks from the album. The performances were definitely eclectic, but for me the highlights were Gary Lutton’s intricate finger style take on Songbird and hearing Mosmo Strange crank up the guitars and rip through Never Going Back Again. The middle section ends on a real high as Wookalily give us a rhythmical and dark interpretation of Stevie Nicks’ Gold Dust Woman.

After a short break, it was time for side two of the album with the house band back on stage and Ellen Weir returning to take on the vocals on You Make Loving Fun and Oh Daddy. Billy Cook joins the band on lead guitar and he and Anthony Toner bounce licks and breaks back and forth. The rock feel is ramped up when Cormac Neeson (The Answer) takes over lead vocals on the last two tracks. In the only real departure from the track listing of Rumours, the band keep The Chain for the finale. Anyone familiar with Rumours will know that it’s a driving, guitar-heavy track and with most of the evening’s artists back on stage things get very loud very quickly. At this point in the evening, there’s more than a few ladies dancing at the front of the stage and the remainder of the crowd are on their feet and clapping along.

As a concept, this worked incredibly well and credit has to go to Paul McMordie for the organisation; the quality of the contributing musicians was also a huge factor in being able to pull something like this off. Now, if only someone had the idea to take this show on the road…………

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