The High Kings to play the Loughrea Hotel and Spa

The High Kings will be live at the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa on Friday May 3.

Eleven years ago, four Irish singers, performers, and songwriters decided to take a calculated risk. The constituent parts of The High Kings each had a wealth of history in the music business behind them, but knew that in order to maintain any level of creative interest they would have to boldly go where no other Irish ballad group had gone before.

In truth, back in the mid-late noughties, Ireland needed a group like The High Kings. The heyday of ballad groups such as The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners was a distant memory for generations of music fans, and to have another bunch of Irish lads taking up the baton and continuing the tradition was great news to thousands of fans worldwide.

“We could sing well, play our instruments well and harmonise well,” says Darren Holden, humbly underselling somewhat the numerous skill sets of the individual members. “People were looking for guys with character, presence – not just cardboard cut-outs – so the respective experience we all had was not just helpful but essential. The four members immediately knew that something special was taking place; “We knew within the space of a few songs that there was magic”, and within months had clicked as a creative unit as well as friends.

The self-titled debut album, released in 2008, reached a highly impressive number two on Billboard Magazine’s World Music chart. It was during The High Kings' second tour of the US in 2011, however, having graduated from playing small venues to larger halls as they promoted their follow-up album, Memory Lane, which also crashed into Billboard’s World Music chart, that everyone involved realised the fanbase was growing into something that no one had predicted. Subsequently, the group’s tour of Ireland sold out within hours.

To say that The High Kings are charting a new course for Irish ballad music – equal parts rousing and reflective, energetic, and insightful – is an understatement. The group is marking out a new and bright era for Irish folk music, and aiming to bring a broad demographic along for the journey. With 2016's Grace & Glory, the band widened their appeal and fanbase, as Finbarr affirmed. “There is something for everybody on the album, and any doubters out there might just discover there is a whole lot more to us than perceptions would have them believe. Previous High Kings' albums have been stepping-stones but this one sees us on top of things."

The year 2017 saw the band continue with intensive touring of Ireland, the UK, and America, in tandem with a rapid growth in their digital and online profile. It is also the year that the band reached their 10th anniversary which is being marked with a very special compilation celebrating a decade of outstanding songs and performances.

Tickets are priced at €30 can be purchased from www.tickets.ie or available from the Lough Rea Hotel reception. Call 091 88 00 88 for more information.

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