October 23, 2009 - Hedon, Zwolle (NL)

This year British band Iona, celebrate their 20th anniversary. During the fourteen years that Troy Donockley was a band member, he was always making jokes when Iona gave a concert in The Netherlands. I realized that when I saw the band perform at Hedon in Zwolle. In spite of the fact that Troy had left the band the jokes, the laughter and the funny talks in between the songs were still present. Now singer Joanne Hogg mostly started the jokes or the funny stories. When she got response from the other band members the conversation often turned into a talk show. Joanne proudly told the audience that since the departure of Troy Donockley, Iona is a band of which most members hail from Ireland.

The band started with a beautiful improvised piece of music that sounded a bit like Clannad. While Joanne sang, the string synthesizers and the violin, played by drummer Frank van Essen, gradually took over followed by an excellent guitar solo by Dave Bainbridge. The song turned into a fine version of Treasure. It struck me to hear the beautiful interplay between the musicians with Frank being the engine of the band. The next song was Today, followed by a splendid adaptation of Jigs. After an improvised version of The Island, we could enjoy some sad, but wonderful violin playing in the instrumental A Million Stars that changed without a break into Divine Presence directly followed by The Ancient Wells, the first song from the upcoming new album. This piece started with a leading role for Martin Nolan on his uillean pipes. It was the first time that Martin played with Iona in The Netherlands as a substitute for Troy. The song indicated that we have something to look out for. Next on stage came Niek Smelt to play the bodhran on Acoustic Reels, the last song of the first set. He got the chance to play together with the band as a special treat because of his birthday. Martin ended the song with a short version of Happy Birthday To You performed on his whistle.

After the break and some technical problems with Daveís equipment, the second set started with delay. However, the Goodmanís Slip Jig Set didnít suffer from this disturbance. Himba, a song Iona had not performed for a long time, followed this great jig. One of the epics thatís usually on the set list is Encircling, a song about a soldier who gets ready for battle, a metaphor for good and evil. This piece showed that Iona belongs to the top in their genre. On Taimse Im Chodladh ( I Am Asleep), it became clear why Martin Nolan is the new member of Iona. Accompanied by Dave on his keyboards he played a wonderful piece of music on his uillean pipes followed by an acoustic version of Edge Of The World. The second new track that is going to be on the bands next release was Let Your Glory Fall strongly dominated by Frankís drums. Next came a mellow piece entitled A Dhia Ghleigil (Angel Of God) done by Martin and Dave. Revelation got a false start because Mr. Nolan forgot to play the first notes of the song. Itís a beautiful piece of music that turned into Heavenís Bright Sun. The regular set ended with Castlerigg/Reels.

The band returned for the encore section with Irish Day, a short instrumental piece done by Martin while the band was waiting for Joanneís return from the bathroom. Be-Se I Mo Shuil, Part 2 and Air From France ended this wonderful and entertaining concert.

Review of re-release of their album "Journey into the Morn"
Interview with Dave Bainbridge

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Iona Zwolle:

Set 1:
The Island
A Million Stars
Divine Presence
The Ancient Wells
Acoustic Reels

Set 2:
Goodman's Slip Jig Set
Taimse Im Chodladh (I am Asleep)
Edge Of The World
Let Your Glory Fall
A Dhia Ghleigil (Angel Of God)
Revelation/Heaven's Bright Sun

Irish Day
Be-Se I Mo Shuil Part 2
Air From France

Pictures by Henri Strik

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Iona:

Joanne Hogg Dave Bainbridge Martin Nolan Frank van Essen Phil Barker Niek Smelt
lead vocals,
acoustic guitar
electric guitar,
uilleann pipes,
low whistles,
tin whistles
drums, percussion,
background vocals
bass guitar,
electric double bass
Special guest

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