If you are a true fan of an iconic band you probably take a dim view of any outfit purporting to be a ‘tribute band’, deeming them to be a pale imitation of the original. If you are a fan of The Eagles or of Fleetwood Mac then you would be surprised and delighted by the quality of the show presented by an Irish band called The Illegals.
I saw them for the second time last night and was blown away by the three hours of musical magic they provided for a packed audience in our local theatre.
The band is fronted by Naimh Kavanagh and her husband Paul McGahy. Niamh is, perhaps, best known in Ireland for her success in winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993. She also featured heavily on the soundtrack of the movie version of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments.
Last night’s show opened with a pictorial tribute to Glen Frey, The Eagles’ founder member who passed away in January this year. There have been a number of changes to the set list since I last saw them, but essentially what is offered is a selection of the best tracks from both bands. Whether channeling Linda Ronstadt or Stevie Nicks, Kavanagh’s voice has the power and versatility required to render such classics as Desperado and Songbird. Close your eyes and you could be listening to the real thing.
The same has to be said about the instrumentalists, two of whom double up as male soloists. Unfortunately I cannot name all of them here because none of the publicity material I’ve searched mentions their names, and I did not make notes when Kavanagh, in her role as MC, acknowledged their various contributions to the overall sound. Suffice to say that the familiar guitar solos/duets that feature in such classic numbers as Hotel California are rendered faultlessly.
The band does not have a website, despite having delighted audiences in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for nearly 20 years. They do have a Facebook page and there is an outdated entry for Niamh on Wikipedia that makes no mention of The Illegals. Their reputation is based on word-of-mouth and personal recommendation.
The show is anchored by Kavanagh’s amusing introductions and asides and represents a superb evening’s entertainment. The Facebook page has a list of upcoming gigs. There could be one near you soon. Do go. You will not be disappointed.