Tonight, at the University of Georgia, the greatest remaining Irish band came to play. They are celebrating their 55th year of playing as a group, which might lead you -- as it did me -- to expect the concert to be a sort of sober greatest-hits affair, suitably slowed down to respect the needs of aging performers.
I was wrong. They were off the chain. In a lifetime of going to concerts, symphonies, and shows, I have never seen their equals.
For the encore, following a standing ovation, they did a Medieval piece from Brittany called "Andro." Dancers who had come to join the concert, just kids from a local school, came out and formed a "snake dance" line with the Chieftains' own dancers. It wound through the audience, pulling in anyone who wanted to join. All these old hippies with beards who had come to see the show joined in, holding hands, dancing up and down. The Chieftains ensemble's performance was joined by the Atlanta Pipe Band, with a sextet of Great Highland Bagpipes paired to military drums, perfectly blended into their work -- apparently without rehersal, as the Chieftains just rolled into town and had a wedding to go to last night.
The whole was a performance of high energy and spirit from first to last. I wish I could recreate any part of it here, but no recorded performance of theirs even implied to me how powerful their live performances really are. What a treat to see them after all these years, and to find them so strong.