1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Formed in 1989, IONA take their name from the small island off the west coast of Scotland. From the beginning, their aim has been to write spiritual, atmospheric, yet uplifting music that would stir the emotions, weaving complex patterns that echo the intricate knot work of the great Celtic artists. Often inspired by the great figures of the Celtic Golden Age such as Columba, Aidan, Brendan and Patrick, IONA’s music is as timeless as the message that reaches out to us across the centuries.
Uniquely combining rock / folk / progressive / ethnic and ambient elements with the crystalline voice of Joanne Hogg as their focus, IONA create ‘a blaze of colours and textures...all the sounds fusing into a single, yearning, heartfelt beautiful cry.’ (Iona.uk.com, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
This album is a chance for the band to deliver to their fans their live sound. It is counterpart to a double DVD set, which was reviewed by ProgNaut.com back on August 19th , 2006.The band shows their skill and feeling for their fans by making this event something special with a full set list of 14 songs on two discs. It looks like no expense was sparred to create a record of the band’s performance as a historical marker and “gift” to a large loyal following.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
This is a Christian band delivering Christian inspired lyrics in a progressive and folk driven format. The name Iona comes from an island in Ireland, credited as one of the starting points of the spread of Christianity throughout the UK and Europe.
As a Christian I love the lyrics and was inspired listening to the music. I also like Irish and Gaelic folk music, so this was a natural for me. However, it might not be for everyone. They chose many Gaelic or Irish folk songs like A Dhia Ghiegil, Bi – Se I mo Shuil, Irish Day, Castlerigg/Reeds, Murlough Bay, to fill this live performance. If you are not a fan of this music, you would probably be better off choosing some of their studio albums with more of their original compositions. The band/fan interaction is wonderful and many stories and meanings of the songs are explained.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Since it is a live performance of their studio work, it does not challenge any boundaries or push their music any further in terms of creating new music.. However, the live performance of these studio tracks provides a different interpretation of the studio performances with the added jam sessions. The power of their live performance is captured in clear surround sound. The power of the performance made me want to attend the next show that makes it here to the USA.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely! I have been playing it at least twice a week since I received it two weeks ago. I really like Joanne Hogg’s voice and the songs the band plays. I am trying to locate the band’s last CD through my local record store, and will then slowly buy much of the catalog. I am a fan now. This was a great introduction to the band and displayed their power and creativity.
This band has been around for a while, but this was the first I had heard from them. They are very popular in the UK, but do not have as large a following here in the USA.
Rating: 9/10 - Although this is a wonderful live recording of a very skilled group of musicians, I would have liked to hear more of their catalog of music. Especially some of the back catalog to get a fuller picture of their creative progress over time. But I am sure they chose fan favorites and I would not have removed any of the songs they chose, just would have included more.
Reviewed by Prof on April 30th, 2009