Stockton's Wing reunion in Ennis's West County Hotel on November
8th was a resounding success. With a sold-out audience of about
1000 the group showed that they still have what it takes. From the
very first track the audience, many of whom may not even have been
born when this lineup last performed, joined the band in a musical
celebration. Along the way the band were joined by members of the
group 'Dervish' as well as their good friend 'Ronnie Drew', who
along with Mike Hanrahan had performed before the arrival of Stockton's
Wing on stage.
The band's set for the night was drawn from the songs and tunes
that they performed in the mid-eighty's including old favourites
such as The Maid Behind The Bar, The Golden Stud, Tommy Hayes's
'Spoons Solo, Jenny's Chickens as well as their hit songs Beautiful
Affair, Walk Away and Avondale.
Platten and Footsteps Downs Syndrome (Clare) were the main beneficiaries
but 1400 music fans, Ronnie Drew, Tara Breen, Kieran Hanrahan, Paul
Roche, Mike Hanrahan, Maurice Lennon and Tommy Hayes have all added
a new room to their memory and it is filled with Jigs, reels , songs,stories,
the incredible audience reaction and participation and an amazing
buzz that filled the room to make this event a "should have been
"what an extraordinary, amazing, mind-blowing
concert the Wing delivered last night. I'm still spinning from it.
It was TRIUMPHANT!..no other word for it....such an incredible turn-out....and
the music and the vibe (Ronnie too...who was pure magic as usual)
made it a NIGHT TO REMEMBER!!! It rates as one of the top gigs of
the decade for me..."
"A palpable drone of expectation gathered around Ennis'
West County Hotel's function room prior to the appearance of Stockton's
Wing for a once-off benefit concert in aid of Down Syndrome Awareness,
and in particular the plight of 4 year old Orla Platten who suffers
from atlanto-axial subluxation. Twenty years had passed since this
assemblage of Kieran Hanrahan, Tommy Hayes, Paul Roche, Maurice
Lennon and Mike Hanrahan played on stage together and now 1400 fans
eagerly awaited the sound of fiery traditional music, the hallmark
of a group who blazed a trail around the world in the late seventies
and right throughout the eighties.
Though varying ensembles have traded under the moniker in the
interim, this was the Stockton's Wing line-up that many saw as being
the most creative and distinctive in the band's long career. The
large audience shoe-horned into the venue were not disappointed.
A more passionate and powerful gig has not been witnessed in the
Clare town in recent times. Given the fact that little Orla is the
niece of the Hanrahan siblings, and Ennis was the birthplace of
the "Wing" back in 1977, it was clear that
the regrouped quintet were always going to be faced with a partisan
welcome. Yet the boys did not rest on their laurels and produced
a balanced set of instrumental virtuosity interspersed with plaintiff
and melodic vocals.
"Light in the Western Sky" probably the group's finest
album provided a satisfying source for some of the finer moments
of this excellent concert. Instrumentals like "The Belltable"
and "The Golden Stud" showcased their highly innovative
approach to arranging and presenting traditional tunes, while songs
like "Walk Away" and "Beautiful Affair" reaffirmed
the reason why Stockton's Wing crossed over successfully into a
more pop/folk market at the time.
The addition of "Dervish" members Tom Morrow on fiddle
and Shane Mitchell on accordion for two sets of tunes, added to
the frantic nature of the gig, but it was Ronnie Drew's collaboration
that drew the bulk of approval from the ecstatic attendance. Earlier
in the night the Dubliner had performed a potent set to a capricious
and vacillating congregation, but on this occasion in the company
of the home-town heroes, the hirsuted legend delivering "Now
I'm Easy" and Mike Hanrahan's "We Had It All", had
the large crowd spell-bound.
Other highlights included percussionist Tommy Hayes' spoon playing,
while Paul Roche paid special tribute to the late Micho Russell
with a fantastic rendition of "The Boy in the Gap" on
the whistle. Good-natured fun, coupled with intense and passionate
playing elevated this gig to that of epic proportions. The meritorious
cause benefited immensely from the band's laudable and dynamic musical
efforts, and the uproarious audience reaction added to the incredible
As a footnote, the fiddle playing of thirteen year old Tara
Breen who opened the show, emphasised the fact that the conveyor-belt
of traditional talent that exhibits prodigious Clare musicians,
is as productive as ever: definitely one for the future."
Gerry Quinn - Irish Examiner Tue Dec 2nd 2003.