Accompanied by his son Patrick on bodhrán and percussion and Steve Layton on guitar, he provided a great variety of music which had the crowd stamping and calling for more.
Many of the songs reflected the familiar Irish concerns of hardship, migration and homesickness, such as the Ralph McTell song From Clare To Here.
The sadness was leavened by some lively instrumental dance sets and some more romantic ballads including the Fureys’ popular success Sweet Sixteen.
Patrick Arthur’s bodhrán playing was sensitive and discreet, and he played a solo piece in which he almost made the traditional Irish drum sing.
Steve Layton’s guitar work was superb, from simple accompaniment to some lovely jazz-tinged frills which added contrasting colour to the songs.
There was no room to dance, but the rousing finale brought a standing ovation.
The evening opened with a short set from Salisbury singer Jadiie Pepperell accompanied by Ryan Whitston on guitar. Pepperell’s powerful soulful singing won the crowd over, and the duo were called back for an encore which they obviously weren’t expecting. They carried it all off with such confidence that it was a real surprise to learn that this was their first public performance.
The evening had been organised by Irish Music On Tour under Finbarr Sheehan, who swears that this will be his last Irish Music On Tour gig.
Sheehan has been bringing the best of Irish music to Salisbury for more than twenty years. The gigs have provided a showcase for many local musicians such as Pepperell and Whitston and have raised funds for several charities.
The beneficiary for the last few years has been the Salisbury Hospice, and Finbarr estimates that his concerts have raised more than £20,000. He is entitled to a rest after that, and this splendid evening with Davey Arthur was a fine way to bow out.
Review and picture by John Palmer
Standing ovation for Irish music legend (From Salisbury Journal)