What first comes to your mind when you think about Celtic music? Usually… ‘it’s some sort of Irish dances? Flutes and violins, and guys jumping on one leg…?’ Well let’s say that this was more or less what I was thinking (shame, shame!) when I went to see Beltaine back on a freezing December day of 2010. The performance turned out to be… absolutely astonishing.
When authenticity meets innovation
The crowded venue leveled up my expectations. Despite the cold and snow outside, the atmosphere in the club was hot and cheerful, as if introducing a fun night. The band made an absolutely positive impression right from the start. The moment these eight gentlemen started playing the first tunes, they surprised the audience with a great dose of energy.
Their songs are a quintessence of Irish music. There is no faking here and no replacing traditional instruments with others. Beltaine has a very unique style which is mainly built by the presence of many various instruments such as mandolin, whistle, bodhran, accordion, bombarda, galician bagpipes or uilleann pipes, violin, and Irish bouzouki. Then of course cajon, darabuka, and djembe only fulfill the overall music picture. Here we must also mention the genius idea of mixing this whole bunch of instruments with the ones typical for rock music; electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums.
Celtic music travels all around the world
Beltaine’s songs are so uncommon also thanks to the original ideas and excellent performance. Of course, every each of their tracks can simply be described as a widely-understood Celtic music, but the band happily steps outside of these borders and enters into a totally new dimension.
We play Celtic music but understood in a very broad sense. It means that we’re starting with our musical inspirations somewhere in Ireland, in northern France, and then we travel with it around the whole world. Sometimes we visit India, experiment with Jewish or Slavic music, and add a bit of jazz to all that –
– explained Grzegorz Chudy, the leader of the band.
The cheerful audience entered a stage of pleasant trance when it was listening to a jazz story about how a flute turned into a trumpet. This splendid adaptation of New Orlean’s music did not leave a shade of doubt that Beltaine does truly have a great potential. We got transported to the fantastic world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books when listening to Bring to the Boil which made its way to the soundtrack of The Witcher – the famous computer game. Then we couldn’t take our eyes off of the violinist Adam Romański and his fast-as-light fingers while he was performing the incredible 4 Reele’. Then Pastor’s Kisses made everybody fall in love with the sweet melody.
I could tell you more and more but the conclusion remains the same: this Silesian band is a group of eight very talented artists who perform their music with great passion and energy. Not only that – that energy was contagious and hit the audience with double strength. Already after the few first songs, I saw a group of Irish-style jumping and dancing enthusiasts. It would be a shame not to join them!
The Playful Eight
Extraordinary creativity, magical music skills, and… great sense of humor. These characteristics turn Beltaine’s performance into an unforgettable experience. Every song was enriched with the violinist Grzegorz Chudy’s hilarious comment about pretty much anything. This high school teacher is clearly a passionate public speaker because he just loved talking to his audience (but that’s OK because he was doing it in a truly entertaining way!).
The concert was spinning like quickly moving pictures in an old cinema… Adam was showing off his mad violinist skills, Grześ was telling another joke about Germans, a group of enthusiasts started yet another dance-off under the stage, Łukasz Kulesza was making girls fall for his ‘Dr. House look’, then suddenly the whole band started dancing, the atmosphere started to get even hotter, another Germans joke, another dance-off, Grześ taught us to talk in the Silesian dialect… And then, last but not least, we got ourselves a new song, and then another, and again…
New means exciting
In the middle of this chaotic description (but resonating with the atmosphere of the concert), let me throw in a small digression. The digression will be about how big ignorant we can be when we listen to only one and only type of music (rock and roll!). But sometimes, all that it needs to take to explore a whole new world of music genre is to kill your own prejudice and go to a concert of a band that we have never heard about.
It may be (as it was in my case with Beltaine), that we will discover something amazingly fresh and inspiring. Something that may not have 'rock’n’roll' stated in its passport but will definitely have rock’n’roll running in its veins.
It is not at all a revolutionary thought but I will leave you with one tip: it is worth it to mock your own music taste from time to time. The end of digression.
Beltaine stepped down the stage with the sound of hot applause. Their performance basically crashed all my stereotypical thinking about Celtic music. The ‘Irish cheerful melodies and dances’ won’t let me forget them. The magical flute and superfast violin totally mastered my memory! With no doubt, they will stay there for a long time.
Featured image source: https://www.facebook.com/beltainepoland