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

From <http://www.corkfolkfestival.com/eoin-edwards-irish-examiner-review-of-andy-irvine-last-night/>

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Archive: Reviews – Rain On The Roof (1996)

Label: AK (2) ‎– AK-1

Released: 1996


Andy Irvine has been labeled as a ‘ Legend of Irish music ‘, over the years and this must be a very heavy weight to carry around and to record new material under. Though he seems to do so with ease.

Rain on the Roof is a solo album, which up until very recently, was only sold at his concerts. It is an album of exceptional quality and freshness, that leaves you wanting more of the atmosphere created on this disc. It is mainly recorded in one take, just Andy, bouzouki and microphone. It is as close to a live recording as they come and is a small taste of what you would experience from his concerts. A small taste, as he has a very large repertoire now. This album leaves you wishing for more of that repertoire to be recorded in the same vein. I am not a big fan of people re-recording old tracks, they never seem to capture the emotion and energy from those first attempts, but there are very rare exceptions to that and this is definitely one of them.

The first track is prince among men, I loved the original with Andy and Patrick Street but this version knocks it flat. The emotion and atmosphere created here and to be honest, on the whole album is astounding. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I first heard him play live. Fantastic !

The second Track is Banesas’s Green Glade and I have admit that my first thoughts when reading the track listing was, why would anyone even try to redo this track. The original is a classic but somehow the emotion on this recording is spot on. This was originally done together with Planxty and it asks how would ‘Rambling boys of Pleasure’, ‘ Aragon Mills’ or a mountain of others sound with this treatment. I have seen Andy play ‘You Rambling boys of Pleasure’ live and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, magical. Baneasa is following by a Balkan tune called Daichevo Horo, an excellent tune and I love the way this slow emotional track progresses to the fury of the Balkan melody. I have to say that I prefer the original combination of Baneasas being followed by Mominsko Horo but that takes nothing away from this version. I have seen him play Banesas/ Daichevo Horo live and it is quite breathe taking.

Rain on the Roof/ The Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Turn this track up to get full effect of the Rain and Didgeredoo. Surprising really, how well the mandolin works with the didgeredoo. Andy has spent so much time in Australia, that I am surprised he hasn’t recorded more of it. I love the feeling in this track !

My Hearts tonight in Ireland first appeared on a compilation album called Common Ground around ’96. Again a beautiful tune played together with Donal Lunny , Rens Van Der Zalm etc. But once again this version has so much more feeling to it. A tune of remember the good ol’ days back in Ireland and times of Sweeney’s’s men. In this version you can really hear it in his voice. This is sure to be one of those classic Irish tunes.

Forgotten Hero, was another track done with Patrick Street, about Michael Davitt. Again this opens the thoughts of a few more Patrick Street tracks reworked with this solo treatment. ‘Brackagh Hill’, ‘Springfield road/ monday Blues ‘ to name a few.

Pamela’s Ruchenitsa/ Gruncharsko Horo/ Bakers Dozen, I never get tired of hearing Andy playing this type of Balkan tunes. In the first concert I ever saw him play, it was these type of Balkan music that made me want to play the bouzouki. It still does !

He Fades Away is a new track and a wonderful one too. Written by Alaistar Hullett it paints a grim picture of asbestos miners, through the eyes of they’re wives. It is a very powerful tune and one that Andy sings with his heart.

Come with me over the mountain/ smile in the dark. A very lively set here, and the mandola here sounding in top form. I will have to get around to learning the Smile in the Dark. Wonderful. If anyone out there can play this, send me the tab.

The monument, the only track on the album that I don’t personally like. Maybe this is where Aragon mills or even Raoul Wallenberg could have been slipped in. A sad song with a serious not, and still beautifully sung.

Take no Prisoners and Old Brunswick are brilliantly played here. I get great pleasure listening to these tunes and even greater pleasure playing them. A really great set of tunes, for the bouzouki. The Balkan tunes on this album have a real edge to them and this is something that I would have like to have heard a lot more of on East Wind. A great album with Davy Spillane but Andy is washed out a little too much in the mix for my taste. I could listen to these tunes all day!

Never Tire of the Road, first appeared on Andy’s Rude Awakening album. A tune that has over the years, become Andy’s signature tune. I really like the original tune from the moment I heard it and was singing it for days. The Rain on the Roof version of this tune is more up beat, faster and is played with a little more aggression in its attack. A really great choice, for a final track and an incredible version too.

This is a very impressive rework of some of Andy’s material and presented together with some wonderful new songs and tunes. I must admit to have grown a little tired of a lot of albums these days being so over produced and a lot of the instruments being lost in the mix. While music is being mixed and produced to the ceiling, I feel so much of the emotion and feeling is falling through the floor. This album comes across with a fresh, crisp mix and performed with such emotion that you are sucked in to the atmosphere that is created in the words sung. I have to say this is my favorite album by Andy Irvine, and quite possibly my favorite album in my entire CD collection!

by Kieron

source: China2Galway.com [deadlink]

Archive: 2004 – Reviews – Mozaik – Live from the Powerhouse

Music Review/Album: 27 May 2004

Rather fatuously billed on the CD sleeve as “the ultimate global stringband”, Mozaik are Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Bruce Molsky (USA), Rens Van Der Zalm (Holland) and Nikola Parov (Hungary), and this album was recorded live in Brisbane two years ago with the lads playing 18 instruments between them. The recording quality thankfully captures all the rapture of a terrific gig.

As with anything Irvine and Lunny get up to, there are exhilarating tracks here (‘Sandansko Oro’, ‘Mechkin Kamen’) in the kind of Eastern European time-signatures that would move your pocket calculator to meltdown. ‘Pony Boy’ boasts some terrific fiddle duetting from Molsky and Van Der Zalm, and serves as a handsome build-up to Irvine’s gritty vocals on his own zestful ‘Never Tire Of The Road’. The versions of both ‘A Blacksmith Courted Me’ and the complex ‘Smeseno Horo’ stand comparison with the Planxty covers of yore.

The latter is a veritable stringfest, with Parov’s kaval going head to furious head with the instruments of Lunny and Irvine. But perhaps the most touching of the material is Irvine’s heartfelt tribute to the legendary Willie Clancy in ‘My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland’.

The quintet on this performance may not be as pioneering as Lunny’s short-lived Coolfin project, but their unquestionable virtuosity and sheer joy in playing together makes this a memorable memento of what must have been a live gig to remember.

Jackie Hayden – Hotpress

source:hotpress.com


Hummingbird HBCD0036; 62 minutes; 2004

 According to legend, the term “World Music” was apparently coined by a group of record label marketing executives at a dinner held somewhere in London sometime in the mid-1980s. However, if such an event ever took place, none of those present could possibly have envisaged the existence of a band like Mozaik, even in their wildest brandy-fuelled, post-prandial deliberations.

 For Mozaik, dear reader, is that rarity, a truly international band which consists of the London-born of mixed Scots/Irish parentage Andy Irvine, Kildare alumnus Dónal Lunny, American old-timey fiddler and banjo player Bruce Molsky, Dutch multi-instrumentalist Rens van der Zalm and the similarly skilled Hungarian Nikola Parov. Add to that brew Irvine’s well-documented affection for the music of the Balkans and all manner of quirky time signatures and the fact that the Powerhouse in question is in Brisbane, Australia and those marketing executives would be chortling into their glasses and calling for trebles all round.

It was Andy Irvine, of course, who was behind the original Mosaic (presumably, someone else now has the licence for the name) which first appeared after the final break-up of Planxty in 1983 and featured, alongside Dónal Lunny and uilleann piper Declan Masterson, and various European musicians.

That band never recorded, but thankfully this one has, though the concerts from which this album are drawn took place in March 2002. Nevertheless, a recent conversation with Andy revealed his desire for the album to achieve some recognition and, on the evidence provided, you’d be well advised to take heed.

One of the attractions of Planxty was the band’s never to be replicated line-up of instruments – uilleann pipes plus the various stringed instruments of Irvine and Lunny and the bodhrán of Christy Moore – and this is equally where Mozaik’s innate attractions lie. Apart from Andy’s occasional harmonica and Nikola’s whistle and clarinet, this is very much a string driven band (though any connection with the lamentable 1970s UK progressive band String Driven Thing should be firmly avoided). Like Planxty, Mozaik seem to be masters of all they survey, although it’s a substantially different landscape – one in which they can move from Aegean Macedonia (Suleman’s Kopanitsa, in the extraordinary time signature of 11/16) to Bruce Molsky’s Tennessee-inspired version of The Rocky Road to Dublin which itself segues into a wild Kentucky breakout, with Nikola’s whistle blowing hell for leather, on Indian Ate the Woodchuck. And from there it’s off to a Dutchman, Rens, playing a Rumanian tune on the fiddle which Andy once heard on a tour of Italy with the Breton band Gwerz!

If this all sounds as though musical passports are an essential requirement, fear ye not! Every listening unearths gems which possess an inherent commonality, but it’s Andy’s songs which, ultimately, provide the coat peg on which this truly international  and thoroughly enjoyable musical exploration can hang its hat (and, as Marvin Gaye wrote, “Wherever I hang my hat is my home”).

So amidst all the musical exploration there’s a wonderful reading of A Blacksmith Courted Me and perhaps everybody’s favourite Irvine composition, My Heart’s Tonight in Ireland “in the time of Sweeney in the sweet County Clare”, to which Dónal adds Robinson County, learnt from Pumpkinhead, and Bruce finales with a splendidly exuberant Trip to Durrow. Then there’s the Macedonian song Mechkin Kamen and a stirring tribute to Woody Guthrie – Never Tire of the Road.

Naturally, the album has to include the tune with which Planxty opened ears to Eastern Europe, Smeseno Horo (in a bizarre mix of 15/16 and 9/16 signatures) and the CD aptly closes with an evocative clarinet-led rendition of the Hungarian tune The Last Dance.

All told, this is a stunning confection and an extraordinary collaboration which should be valued and cherished. More treble brandies all round!

Geoff Wallis – 11th May, 2004

source:www.irishmusicreview.com