14th November 2015 @ O2 Academy, Oxford

Why you may ask yourself has it taken me two months to construct a single sentence concerning the phenomenal band known only as Saedly Dorus & The Hoolie Band? I just simply did not know where to begin, there is so, so much, to say on the subject. This is what I have been waiting for, something original and fresh. This band can only get bigger and the larger the stage the more they will shine. This is a band made of pure talent. From their toes up they have got the lot and they are sharing their passion with panache.

Saedly Dorus & the Hoolie Band live at the O2 Academy, Oxford
Photographs by Ed Nix

My ignorance is such that I was expecting to go to a Disco. After all if that's what you were told you would wouldn't you? Oh no, this was a far more spectacular show, an all embracing inclusive hoedown with umph and oodles of it. Not since Toots and the Maytal's played at the Oxford Polytechnic (many moons ago) have I seen so many people dancing, not to mention laughing and generally having the time of their lives. The spirit moved them the spirit grooved them. Flamboyant and dazzling and not a rhinestone in sight! But maybe there should have been.

How did they do that!!? This was constructed to exceed expectations, an all-encompassing crescendo of inclusion. First, a little shy, a few people gathered round the bar and filled the O2 as Ben Avison serenaded them with his guitar. By the time the band were ready the hall was full and Ben had impressed the crowd with his performance. I was not expecting to see what happened next.

Steph Pirrie - Saedly Dorus & the Hoolie BandVery modestly Steph Pirrie the virtuoso singer, musician and master of ceremonies took to the stage! From then on things started happening around me so quickly it was like watching the tide come in, everything flowing like water. Little eddies, twirls, streams, rivers and the occasional torrent. At Steph's command everyone was moving; taking partners and with her polished expertise and knack of engagement they all joined in.

Guided by the two magnificent dancers on stage who prompted everyone as to how it was done, and obeying Steph's every word, (so there was no excuse for not knowing what to do) the whole floor in front of me started to move and with pure coordination they were off!

Saedly Dorus & the Hooile Band - Live Disco CeilidhI can honestly say I have never seen anything like it and neither had the staff (I asked) they were just as spell bound and delighted as me. It was almost quasi-religious the hold that Steph had on the crowd. The girls had the moves and everything about the night was mesmerising.

This was Disco alright but every great disco tune you ever danced or wanted to dance to injected with funk rock and jazz and what a pastiche! Disco, only everything was so much better. There were slight overtones of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson from Steph as she played her flute and a sprinkling of Rock and Roll from the band and with the stage dancers never putting a foot wrong what more could you ask. This was LIVE and the audience were not only dancing along they were part of the sorcery.

The Hoolie Band - Live ceilidh disco at the O2 Academy, Oxford
Photographs by Ed Nix

In order to appear this effortless this act is a polished accomplishment of subtle sophistication that has taken years of practice to perfect and tell-tale genius, there really is no way to describe its uniqueness. You just have to go and see for yourself and join in.

Steph Pirrie - Saedly Dorus & the Hoolie BandThe woman was a conjurer. This was a layer cake, a fairy-tale carefully woven, a perfect cocktail of musical ideas. The band certainly knew what they were doing and they did it well, these are magical musicians. If they had had wizard hats on I would not have been in the slightest bit surprised.

There was no age barrier. Family fun is such a cliché for this all embracing entertainment. Let us just say that everyone from young to old was having a riot of fun on the floor. Live Disco Ceilidh with Saedly Dorus & the Hoolie BandThe pace was flowing and you were guaranteed a good time. Such engaging entertainment is hard if not virtually impossible to find. This was a creation. As the dances became more complicated and the couples joined forces into teams I was fascinated, everyone was keeping up. Yes the lead dancers on stage were still showing the way. How much stamina did this take? What a way to get fit and bring sunshine to your life on a dull day.

The highlight for me had to be the bands interpretation of Chic's Le Freak. At intermittent intervals during the song Steph gave the participants the dance instruction Free-style disco ceilidh dancing at the O2 Academy, Oxford"free style" and boy did they take off. This was the tidal wave, a pure celebration of life. If I saw any of these people walking down the street I would never in my wildest dreams imagine them the way I did that night. This is not just what I have been waiting for: this is what they had all been waiting for. It was obvious that a lot of these people knew precisely what they were letting themselves in for and embraced it with gusto.

Was this a Hoolie? Was this a ceilidh? Is it disco? Is it Rock and Roll? Funk? I could go on. This was a team effort on and off stage. It is unique, original, fun, a frolic. It is inspirational and it will only get bigger and better. Where to next? Go and see them and join in while you can still afford to.

For anyone that loves music: - "Celebrate good times, come on!
Let's all celebrate and have a good time!"

Dympna Irwin

All photographs by Ed Nix

Funky Folk at the O2 Academy, Oxford

> See the gallery of photos