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Review: Bua at Brigid’s Cross

Matt Lavrenz | A&E Writer | 2-11-2012

When my good friend Caige told me there was a Contemporary Irish-Folk band playing at Brigid’s Cross, one of the Irish pubs downtown, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
On the ride to the show, images of 75-year-old kilt-clad Irishmen scanned through my mind. When we arrived at the pub, we were greeted by an old bearded man wearing a fedora. My friend knew him somehow and he led us inside. Upon entering I saw that every seat in the entire building was taken. We made our way through the crowd in search of a wall suitable to lean against. We found a place where we weren’t in the way and waited for the show to start.
The pub seemed really nice; real authentic. It was a little dark in there, but not in a bad way, the ceiling was made of very dark wood which lowered the light level and actually gave it a very pleasant atmosphere.
When the stage lights were brought up, there were no kilt-clad Irishmen, rather an old woman who from the looks of it appeared to be blind. She sang some traditional Irish songs for twenty minutes or so, just to get the crowd going (which she did somewhat successfully) then introduced the main band of the night, Bua (pronounced boo-ah). Up they rose from their booth in the corner of the bar and made their way up to the stage.
When they were all up on the stage I was surprised by how young and, truthfully, fashionable they were. The singer, Brian Ó hAirt looked more like he belonged in an urban indie band rather than an Irish folk band as he uncased his concertina while Brian Miller, a Bemidji native, tuned up his bouzouki. Just in case you aren’t familiar with traditional Greek instruments, a bouzouki is basically just an over-sized mandolin.
They warmed up with a little instrumental jig which, compared to the little old lady that played before them, really got the bar going. When the singer stepped up to the mic, I was rather impressed by his mumbling, yet somehow articulate voice. The guitar and yes, the bagpipes were very clear and mixed well on the small mixing board in the corner of the stage. There were actually quite a few kids there so the band kept their set nice and family-oriented.
After the first chorus of their song “Soldier, Soldier” the singer, Brian stepped away from the mic and went to the front of the stage and, that’s right, river danced. He was actually really good and his shoes had wooden heels on them, which on a hollow stage sounded amazing when he danced to the beat.
All in all, it was a really fun show and I will most certainly see Bua next time they are in town.