One Night in Bremen

Review: Planxty – One Night In Bremen [FATEA Magazine]

Planxty
Album: One Night In Bremen
Label: Mig
Tracks: 12
Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planxty

Planxty need little introduction but for those who aren’t aware of this force in Irish music, it comprises of quartet Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Christy Moore and Liam O’Flynn. On this album they are joined by Flautist Matt Molloy who would later become a key figure in the massive and ever-enduring Chieftains. When they arrived in the early 70s with flares, taking their rogue-ish hippy attire and performing blistering Irish folk, they certainly turned a few heads and cemented their names into the scene.

The album here is from a time in the late 70s, where the band had reformed and had refined their sound. The album is a live recording from April 1979 in Bremen, Germany before the album recording ‘After the Break’.

The album opens on ‘The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes’, a stomping song sung by the often imitated but never replicated singer Christy Moore. He’s in fine form on this album. Liam O’Flynn’s pipes open the second track with his evocative and expressive style of playing, this is part of what makes Planxty such a force in Irish music. Combine that with the Mandolin/Bouzouki combination of Irvine and Lunny, they step away from ‘Trad’ and become their own.

What is a delight from listening to these live recordings is hearing a band in full flow. With both Irvine and Moore who are solo performers in their own right, albums like this will be ‘must-haves’ for those who follow these two performers.

Andy Irvine leads the plaintive ‘ You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’, this is a standout track on the album. Irvine’s classic delicate vocal which sounds like he’s singing just for you is evident on this track, rather like Irvine’s many poignant Planxty ballads.

‘Smeceno Horo’ is a driving Balkan tune led by Mandolin and Bouzouki, then Molloy’s flute. This would be Matt Molloy’s only tour with Planxty before joining The Chieftains.

The classic ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy / Tabhair Dom Do Lamh is the only song from their renowned first album on here. Delivered very well by Moore. One of the early parts in the track you can hear someone in the audience shush other clapping members. It’s nice to hear this is a live album with enough audience noise in there so it doesn’t become another live album that is just tracks performed differently.

I have to say, what does let this album down is the artwork, which resembles a poor bootleg which has had little care in fonts or their size and also leans a little too much to ‘Oirish’ with its garishly green artwork. This is by no means an album for someone to acquaint themselves with Planxty, rather for those who wish to re-acquaint themselves with this era of Planxty or to keep their collection up to speed. Which if you are, and can get past the artwork, there are some fine songs on this live album.

Johnny Campbell

source: www.fatea-records.co.uk

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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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