Grand gig for symbol of Irish musical culture - Dervish

Dervish will perform at Clitheroe's Grand Theatre on Saturday, October 8th. (s)
Dervish will perform at Clitheroe's Grand Theatre on Saturday, October 8th. (s)
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To finish last in the increasingly preposterous Eurovision Song Contest is surely a badge of honour to be worn with great pride.

A decade ago, Dervish flew the flag for Ireland in the pop finals in Helsinki, only avoiding the dreaded “nul points” thanks to five votes from Albania.

Dervish will perform at Clitheroe's Grand Theatre on Saturday, October 8th. (s)

Dervish will perform at Clitheroe's Grand Theatre on Saturday, October 8th. (s)

“The whole thing was surreal, and terrifying too because there was a lot of pressure on us from the media, and there was 600 million watching on TV too,” said leader Cathy Jordan, who brings Dervish back to Clitheroe’s Grand theatre by popular demand on Saturday (October 8th).

“Looking back, it did more good than harm.”

It has hardly had a negative impact on Dervish’s worldwide popularity, because the six-piece from Sligo have become a symbol of Irish musical culture, having supported Beck, Oasis, Neil Young, Iron Maiden and REM.

Dervish even performed to an audience of 250,000 at the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil.

“It would have been very easy to say no to Eurovision,” added Cathy, who plays guitar, Bodhran drum and bouzouki, “But life is full of every type of experience and those experiences, no matter what they are, give you strength.

“We’ve had serious laughs about it and to even tell somebody you were on it is a great calling card.

“We had a fantastic time at the Eurovision Song Contest – until the last half hour.”

Together they have performed to fans in hundreds of cities, playing landmark concerts on the Great Wall of China and at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

So where did the title Dervish originate?

“The name is Turkish,” she said.

“We chose it because it evolves the passion, energy and edge that is found in real Irish music.

“We are so lucky to do what we do, playing our music to people all over the world.

“Audiences are so different, and many treat Irish music the way kids treat rave music. They go absolutely bananas.

“Sometimes, when we play a gig, it can be quite primal, very instinctive, whether that’s in New York or Clitheroe – they are all incredibly special.

“We like our crowds to have no inhibitions on the dance floor – we just want them to party.”

Accordian player Shane Mitchell, the founder member of Dervish, is naturally proud of their reputation for giving traditional songs a fresh and modern slant.

He said: “We will always be a traditional band, but from time to time we take a more contemporary song and give it the big treatment.

“We feel the Irish tradition is something we can bring to the wider world of music, rather than being a straitjacket that prevents us from touching any song that wasn’t written by an Irishman 100 years ago.

“Maybe in a century, people will think Cher’s Gipsies, Tramps and Thieves was originally an Irish song now that we’ve done in that style on an album.”

Dervish, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, Saturday, October 8th. 01200 412599