Cara Dillon | Review

Cara Dillon | Review

The Lyric, Belfast • Sunday 20 November ’16

By Scott Boldt • Photography: Tremaine Gregg

A Star Brightly Shining

For me, Christmas began this year on 20 November in The Lyric. I should have seen this might happen as I slip slided over icy leaves next to the fog inducing Lagan and noted the word ‘Baltic’ in every second conversation I overheard. I could not anticipate, however, the enchantment and hearth-like atmosphere Cara Dillon carved out of this the commencement to her Christmas concert tour. She emerged on stage as a snowflake, resplendent and hooded in white, gently falling into her opening song with soft cadences and crystal clarity.


Cara settled between Sam Lakeman (guitar/piano), John Smith (guitar), Niall Murphy (fiddle) and Luke Daniels (melodeon) and asked that we be kind as this was the opening show of the tour for the newly released Upon a Winter’s Night. During the first half, the audience sat still and attentive, the musicians needing no grace as the sounds soothed and Dillon delivered.


Cara explained that the album was recorded between May and July, and she left us with the troubling image that such was the heat in the studio that guitarist John Smith was forced to play in his pants. The consequence of that sweltering appears to be a fine collection of melting melodies. The album combines classic carols with newly crafted compositions, capturing the calm and a celtic flavour of Christmas.


We were treated not only to Cara’s vestal version of the Pretender’s ‘2,000 Miles’ but also the start of the second set gave us the gift of sisters Cara and Mary singing unaccompanied. The night was a present slowly unwrapped, the musicianship exquisite, and I felt it gave everyone just what they wanted. Indeed, after the performance, I heard it said, “Cara, she’s like a fairy for your tree”.

Upon a Winter’s Night is available at





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