Irish fiddler transcends genres with stirring performance

“[It’s] feeling like a little Irish pub in here,” fiddler Eileen Ivers said to an eager Wadsworth Auditorium audience midway through her performance on Nov. 10. Ivers played entertaining sets alongside backing band Immigrant Soul as part of the Limelight & Accents Performing Arts Series.

Immigrant Soul consists of guitarist Greg Anderson, bassist Lindsey Horner, lead vocalist and percussionist Tommy McDonnell and accordionist and keyboardist Buddy Connelly.

Finding inspiration in Irish roots, the band incorporates Irish tunes that are hundreds of years old with more recent music.

The group played a few songs from the Irish dance show “Riverdance,” for which Ivers was previously a musician. This set had a sweeping, epic feel that seemed to reverberate through the walls of the auditorium.

The number “Feel So Near” about the beauty of western Ireland and Scotland - originally by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie McLean - elicited much audience participation.

While the group’s music is based in Irish tradition, it also seeks to “marry traditions in [a] seamless way,” Ivers said. The band’s first set had an African vibe to it, and it played bluegrass founder Bill Monroe’s song “Rocky Road Blues” as a closing number.

Each member of the group shone in their own right, but Ivers was truly the star of the night. Dubbed “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin” by The New York Times, Ivers was astounding and incredible to watch.

In the group’s rendition of the traditional Irish song “The Gravel Walk,” Ivers’ improvisation on the electric fiddle forced people to jump from their seats with a round of applause.

“Mackerel Sky,” one of the group’s original pieces, is based on the great immigration movement from Ireland. It combined Irish music with a French-Canadian style to represent the changes these immigrants went through, and was an especially lovely performance.

The energy in the auditorium from both the performers and the audience was truly infectious as it became clear just how passionate the band is about Irish music. By the end of the show, which flew by far too quickly, the audience’s sheer enthusiasm brought the group back onstage for an energetic encore.

The show was an achievement for Limelight & Accents, as Ivers is a nine-time All-Ireland fiddle champion who has played with over 40 symphony orchestras.