Album Review: The Australian – Precious Heroes

Precious Heroes

Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb


3.5 stars

Recorded at various locations over four months last year, Precious Heroes twins a venerable lion king of the late-20th-century Irish folk music revival with a Tasmanian tiger of the new millennium. Andy Irvine’s mandolas and bouzouki and the mandolin, guitar and bouzouki (predominantly the first-named) of producer and sound engineer Luke Plumb intertwine and dovetail as intricately and expertly as might be expected of two outstanding instrumentalists. Their expertise is perfectly showcased in the album’s three non-vocal tracks, assisted by Mike McGoldrick’s fluent flute and whistle in Plumb’s riveting reel medley The Appeal to Reason/The Fiddle in the Phones and in Tune for Angus, appropriately with John McCusker’s poignant violin in the Aussie’s lament to his recently passed partner in Shooglenifty, Angus R. Grant. In the jaunty Trip to Tir na nOg — a tune originally earmarked for Planxty — Irvine’s mandola and bouzouki dance delightfully in tandem. The remainder of the album puts a premium on Irvine’s vocal ability. While the troubadour’s singing might not quite be what it was in his heyday with Planxty and Patrick Street, it’s still admirably tuneful, as exemplified by the beautiful timbre exhibited in the co-composition Niamh and Oisin and in lower register on a late-18th-century resistance song Dunlavin Green. Elsewhere, Irvine slips slides and other ornamentation into the fabric of familiar melodies given added colour by the lusty harmony singing of Aussie duo Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

Tony Hillier



Archive: 2007 – Titirangi Folk Music Club, Auckland, NZ

In Concert

Photo by Shigeru Suzuki.

Andy is usually to be found right in the middle when new & innovative things are hapenning in World of Irish Music. Come & hear what makes him so special. The evening opens with a set of songs from Janet Thomson.

Tickets available at the door or pre-book to secure your seat by phoning Tricia Lee on 818-5659.

Last Update: 2007-12-31


The Legend Plays On

Review of Andy Irvine Concert 24th February 2007

Folk legend Andy Irvine returned to our shores and what a privilege it was to be there. This man has such a folk pedigree. Originally with Sweeny’s Men, then the seminal band Planxty and one of the main guests at the Auckland Folk Festival 2000.

Janet Thomson gave us a wonderful set to start the concert and this was also a rare chance to hear a very polished performer. Thanks Janet.

Then we were in the company of Andy for the remainder of the evening. His sets were certainly thought provoking with a good mix of humour, traditional and self penned tunes and songs. It is something special when you get to hear such expressive and intricate playing of bouzouki and mandola…………. nope Andy didn’t play guitar.

By the end of the evening many of us realised we had seen and heard something quite special. Can’t wait until he returns.



Irish Examiner Review – Andy Irvine at Cork Folk Festival 2017

Crowd soaks up sweet sounds at Cork Folk Festival opening night


THE two Irelands met a few hundred yards from each other near the South Main Street, Cork last night, where a 1,000-year-old Viking weaver’s sword was recently discovered by archaeologists at the historic site of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery.

But they might well have been thousands of miles apart.

The first gig of Féile Chorcaí saw the high king and high queens of Irish folk music, Andy Irvine, and Tríona and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill take to the stage at Triskel Christchurch for a classic opening to the 38th Cork Folk Festival.

The width of a street away, an altogether different cultural and musical experience was in full flow outside two of the city’s nightclubs. What a contrast. One venue oozing history, the other oozing histrionics. But life goes on, and so did the music.

Sitting in the balcony of a Triskel venue, also steeped in history, directly under a memorial to one Major Arthur Gibbins, Kings Dragoon Guards, of Glenburn Glanmire, who died on the march from Meerut to Agra in India on October 27, 1881, age 35, we were insulated from the outside world, transported away from Trump, Rocket Man, Syria, threatened strikes and a weary world as the Ní Dhomhnaill sisters took us on an altogether harmonious journey to Gaoth Domhair, Tory Island… and Cahersiveen for a beautiful rendition of a song their mother, from Doneraile, loved dearly, (The Boys of) Barr Na Sráide.

This was an opening act that filled you with the final rays of autumn warmth, enough to keep you ticking over ’til the approach of the tinsel and toasts of Christmas, with ‘The False Fly’ and my favourite, ‘Do You Love and Apple’, among the many songs to warm the cockles and muscles of the heart.

The old pews and creaking wooden floorboards were soaking up the sweet sounds. And so were we.

Then up stepped Andy Irvine: “It’s lovely to be here, lovely to be anywhere, said the 75-year-old as he launched into what appear like mini novels, ‘When The Boys Are On Parade’, ‘The Three Huntsmen’, ‘You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’, ‘Down By The Sally Gardens’, ‘Prince Among Men’ and ‘Houdini’, with guitar and bouzouki finger work that would still give anyone a run for their money.

Then came ‘that’ special song he wrote while in a hospital bed, following his near drowning accident in Australia. “Your life flashes before you. I was amazed how much I had forgotten… and out of that brilliant mind came ‘My Heart’s Tonight in Ireland (in the sweet County Clare). It brought tears to one American visitor’s eyes, it’s not hard to see why.

“The Close Shave’, drew howls of laughter for the lyrics about a gold digger in Down Under who gets off with woman, only to wake up the next morning to find all his gold gone. “Why did she need the wig? Why did she need to shave? It’s then the truth it struck me, in a fit of blinding rage. Her hair as yellow as the gold she stole from me and you’.

Then it was back to Cork to honour a woman of altogether different morals. “I can’t come here without singing this song”, he told us … and out came The Spirit of Mary Jones, about the Leeside-born woman who organised American union workers.

Irvine was on fire as the night drew to a close with The Blacksmith, which brought the house down. “My mother says I have to leave stage and then come back for the encore. I never had the confidence to do that,” he said as he finished up with ‘As I Roved Out’, aptly followed by the final song of the night from his all-time hero, Woodie Guthrie, ‘Never Tire Of The Road’.

Just like that Viking sword unearthed this summer, the Ní Dhomhnaills, Irvine, Cork Folk Festival organisers William Hammond and Jim Walsh, and a myriad of volunteers, proved once again what national treasures they are. And when it come to Irvine, you know what they say… the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.

Friday, September 29, 2017 - Eoin Edwards

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