Bremen

REVIEW: Planxty – One Night In Bremen [Folk Radio UK]

PLANXTY: ONE NIGHT IN BREMEN

written by David Kidman 27 April, 2018

Planxty – One Night in Bremen

M.i.G. – 23 March 2018

This hour-long live album treat, recorded on 24th April 1979 at Bremen University (Germany) by Radio Bremen, captures the “original Planxty” lineup (i.e. Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn & Dónal Lunny), reunited (effectively “re-created”) for a monster (58-date) spring-1979 tour (in other words, pre-dating – by just a week! – studio sessions for the After The Break album, for which much of the material performed on the tour – eight out of the twelve selections on this live set, in fact – was re-recorded). The foursome was augmented on this tour by the Bothy Band’s master flautist Matt Molloy (he was to join The Chieftains shortly after recording After The Break). If the set encapsulated here is anything to go by, it was a stunning tour, and there’s no escaping the chemistry of a great band in full flight at the top of their game, where the music’s so good you just don’t want it ever to end.

Every track’s a winner. Vocal highlights include Christy’s take on The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes (a storming choice for opening number!), Andy’s magnificently delicate account of You Rambling Boys Of Pleasure, and an ably harmonised Bonny Light Horseman. Returning to the days of the eponymous second Planxty album, Andy revisits Raggle Taggle Gypsy (complete with its lilting Tabhair Dom Do Lámh playout), while Christy brings to this stage the Barney Rush song Nancy Spain from his own repertoire (and 1976 solo record), which receives a deft new small-scale band arrangement.

The various instrumental sets come off brilliantly too, with plenty of individual spotlight moments and tight, vigorous and generous ensemble work at all times. Two of the tune-sets (the East Of Glendart double-jig medley and the Blackberry Blossom reel-set finale) were to crop up again on After The Break, as was the by-then-customary (but still crowd-pleasingly welcome!) tricky (9/16)- metred Balkan dance tune (the Bulgarian Smeceno Horo). The two remaining instrumental items, however – the First Slip set of slip-jigs and The Humours Of Carrigaholt reel-medley – are (as far as I can tell) unique to the set-list for this tour. But none of them can fail to get the feet tapping, and the lively sense of true craic runs through these performances for sure.

As to the recording of this concert, I feel that (aside from a slight trace of distance in some of the vocal entries), it gets well inside the intimacy of the performance, as well as the difficult band dynamic. It helps to remind us of the acuteness of interplay between these expert musicians – enabling us to marvel again at features such as Liam’s stirring uilleann pipes work, the jaw-dropping intricacies of the Irvine/Lunny bouzouki and mandolin working in consort, the eagerly driven rhythmic verve of the bodhrán behind the pipes, as well as many other felicitous and naturally managed details of balance.

One small point: although the running order of the items on this disc is for the most part perfectly credible and contrasts are preserved, it’s not clear whether the correct actual sequence of the concert has been reproduced. The audience’s presence (and healthy appreciation) are heard after each item but fairly quickly faded out (there must’ve been plenty of between-song banter), so it’s hard to tell. But the fire and fury and commitment of Planxty as a hell of a performing unit is there in full force. Live sets are by their nature usually best aimed at the converted, but for someone outside of the established Planxty fan-base One Night In Bremen certainly steers closer into the “worth acquiring” category than the majority of live releases.

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source: http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2018/04/planxty-one-night-in-bremen/

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PLANXTY – Superb live recording for Radio Bremen from 1979

The release of a previously unreleased concert of PLANXTY brings us further into the realm of Irish folk. Their influence on the development of contemporary Irish music is still huge.

One of the first to witness PLANXTY’s live debut at Easter 1972 at Galway was DONOVAN Philips Leitch. Neither the Scottish singer nor his management knew that it was the band’s very first performance in front of a bigger audience when they took the four folk newcomers on as support.

However, Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn passed their baptism of fire with flying colours. Donovan and the crowd felt well entertained. As a result, the scouts from the label Polydor had the band sign a longer-term contract. The first single “Three Drunken Maidens” went into the charts. During the years to follow, PLANXTY worked for the rating “most influential band in the history of traditional Irish music”. In doing so PLANXTY did not only concentrate on Irish traditionals but let also enter more and more influences and elements from other cultures into their music while drawing on a multitude of different instruments.

Despite the success, PLANXTY’S line-up is rather a roundabout – i.e. as early as in 1973 Johnny Moynihan comes for Dónal Lunny, a year later Paul Brady replaces Christy Moore.

As late as in 1979, PLANXTY played in their original formation again and released the album “After The Break”. Paul Brady had left the band again to start a successful solo career and Matt Molloy expanded PLANXTY to a quintet.

The Irishmen went on tour and also stopped by in Bremen, at the university canteen on April 24, 1979. Radio Bremen recorded the show which MIG Music will release before long. For Molloy, it was the first and only tour with PLANXTY, because as soon as he was back on the island the versatile flautist replaced Sean Potts with the legendary Chieftains. Molloy is still performing and regularly making records with this Irish folk institution. Once in a while, you could also meet him at his pub “Matt Molloy’s” in Westport, pulling a pint for his guests or playing a couple of sessions with friendly musicians.

The other members of PLANXTY are on the stages of the world, either solo or together in different formations like for instance Dónal Lunny, Liam O‘Flynn and Andy Irvine as LAPD (the name stands for their initials Liam, Andy, Paddy and Donal). Dónal Lunny found worldwide acceptation as album producer of artists like Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart, Clannad or Sinéad O’Connor, whom he also has a child with. Christy Moore founded after PLANXTY the more rock-oriented Moving Hearts and supported his younger brother Barry with his start within the rock business who then made a career under the pseudonym Luka Bloom.

PLANXTY’s influence on the development of contemporary Irish folk music to this day is huge. Christy Moore’s album with the Scottish guitarist Dick Coughlan as regarded as a milestone of acoustic folk. Critics also were on the same page after the show of PLANXTY at the Bremen University canteen forty years ago – more masterly, enthusiastic and expressive you simply can’t combine Irish traditionals with elements of modern folk. Once again, PLANXTY had set an exclamation mark in this genre.

MIG Music has scheduled the release of the live album from 1979 to March 2018.

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