Reunion

Archive: 2005 – Planxty Live at The Barbican, London

The Barbican, London Sunday January 30th 2005 by Nick Morgan

I have to thank Frank McCamley and Mike Hayward for introducing me to Planxty in October 1973. In a moment the cliché of Irish folk music (“when I came home drunk last night, as drunk as drunk could be” etc.) was demolished.

And at the same time I began an as yet unrequited love affair with the painful, mournful, bending notes of the Uilleann Pipes (Watkin Lees notwithstanding), and with the angelic voices of Andy Irvine and Christy Moore. The album, The Well Below the Valley, barely survived the pounding of indifferent styli, spilt beer and forgotten cigarettes, along with other favourites such as 10CC and Little Feat. And the eponymous song, a morbid celebration of rustic incest, infanticide and consequent damnation, was, it was whispered, never to be recorded, and certainly never to be sung on stage. Welcome to a magical world of mystery and musical complexity.Two years later Planxty disbanded, and though briefly reformed in the 1980s this supergroup of Irish folk (their only equivalent I suppose is the Scottish/Irish The Boys of the Lough) were confined to vinyl memories and increasingly difficult to find CD reissues. Of course all pursued individual careers, none more so than Christy Moore, whose songs, soulful voice and outstanding albums and performances have blazed a trail for the poor, the oppressed, and the victims on injustice for many years.

Planxty, circa 1978

But last year these four older, greyer and fatter men (Editor’s note – enough of this!) came together for a handful of performances in Ireland. And on Sunday we sat transfixed amongst the Willie Johns, the black haired darlings, the raggle taggle gypsies and the forlorn anglicised gentry of the Barbican as Planxty played their first gigs in London for 25 years.When you see a band like this, who you never thought you would, whose timeless respect for (and reinterpretation of) tradition provides constant twists and surprises, whose musical complexity (guitar, mandolin, voice, pipe, bodhran, bazouki, flute) is both beguiling and almost bewildering; well its almost enough to bring tears to your eyes. And great news – no need to write a set list – you can just buy the Live 2004 CD and you’ll get the bulk of it in the comfort of your own living room.

Highpoints? Liam O’Flynn’s pipes on ‘The dark slender boy’. Christy Moore’s pronunciation of “taarrtarsch” in ‘The good ship Kangaroo’; St Brendan’s circumnavigation of the world, which sounded a lot more fun than Ellen Macarthur’s, and Christy Moore again singing on ‘Little Musgrave’ (or ‘Matty Groves’ to Fairporters). Donal Lunny’s astonishing and rhythmical guitar, mandolin and bazouki (he counted in every song with his plectrum on the strings as if he was about to play ‘Voodoo chile’), and Andy Irvine’s voice. “Jeez, I’d cry for the sound of himself singing the menu at Kavanagh’s”, whispered my raven-haired companion.

Christy Moore

Euro moment: Irvine singing Angus McBride – “The Queen wouldn’t scruple to send us to France where we would be shot in the morning”. And song of the night, forget tradition, was Irvine’s ‘The west coast of Clare’. It’s not quite as magical as Skye or Islay, but the tears, like the smoke and the strong whisky, are just as salty.

– Nick Morgan, photos Kate Akers, X.

source: whiskyfun.com


Robin Denselow January 31, 2005

Barbican, London.

This, surely, was both the comeback and the Irish event of the year. Planxty return to London after 25 years, and the old chemistry and magic were still there. When they first formed, in the early 1970s, these four musicians transformed the Irish traditional music scene. Here was an acoustic band that could mix stirring, soulful vocals with wildly experimental settings and virtuoso instru mental work, and do so with the energy of a rock band.

Only the lifestyle has changed. The once-wild members of Planxty didn’t allow alcohol in the hall, but their playing and singing were as thrilling and varied as ever. Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn and Christy Moore have broken up and re-formed twice since the early days. They have seen later Planxty members come and go, have all enjoyed success outside the band, and yet they ambled on like a bunch of elderly friends.

With enormous enthusiasm, they set out to “revive music from the players who came before us”, mixing tunes that were dominated by O’Flynn’s stirring uillean pipes with ballads that were matched against the delicate inter-play of Lunny’s bouzouki and Irvine’s mandolin, with Moore adding guitar, sparse keyboards and the bodhran hand-drum. Moore is the Planxty superstar, thanks to his international solo career, but he never dominated here. A burly figure in a black T-shirt, he was in fine soulful voice on old favourites like the murder ballad Little Musgrave, and the glorious, stirring Cliffs of Dooneen, but only allowed himself one of his own songs, the witty St Brendan’s Voyage. He constantly swapped vocals with Andy Irvine, who in turn switched from traditional songs to his own poignant West Coast of Clare or a demonstration of eastern European influences.

Planxty could still delight and surprise. They well deserve their three nights of standing ovations at a packed-out Barbican.

· At the Barbican tonight. Box office: 020-7638 8891.

source: freakyparty.net


Carol McDaid February 6, 2005

The old ones are the best

Folk: Carol McDaid on Planxty

Barbican, London EC2

Taking up the same stage positions they have occupied, on and off, since archive footage shot around the time they supported Donovan, Planxty, the fab four of Irish music, have re-formed for a few nights only, because they can. From left: Donal Lunny bobbing around on bouzouki, the dynamic time-keeper; Andy Irvine bent over decorous mandolin and mandola; Liam O’Flynn, modern master of the uilleann pipes, the only one in an ironed shirt; and the Buddha-like Christy Moore, one of Ireland’s best-loved singers, adding rhythm guitar and occasional keyboard.

This is an evening of highlights, not least the evident pleasure these fastidiously dedicated fiftysomethings take in working with each other again on Planxty’s quasi-baroque arrangements of traditional material gleaned over years. The way Moore leans forward listening to O’Flynn, his favourite piper, on the searing ‘Dark and Slender Boy’ (there is something at once prim and profane about the uilleann pipes; whenever they start up, the audience whoops); the quiet relish with which O’Flynn introduces Moore’s definitive rendition of ‘Little Musgrave’, an epic song of ‘love, lust, infidelity, jealousy… and murder’.

Then there’s the eternal melancholy of Irvine singing, slightly crumpled, his own heartbreaker, ‘As I Roved Out’; the 16-string perfection of his courtly mandolin trickling through the astonishing drive of Lunny’s left-handed bouzouki. The way it works every time – on a rollicking rake of Balkan-inflected polkas; a set of jigs honed to the basics (O’Flynn on whistle, Irvine’s delicate tracery and a double heartbeat of bodhrán from the bookending figures of old schoolfriends Moore and Lunny); unfolding organically on the elegant ‘Si Bheag, Si Mhor’ – the first tune ever written by the great 17th-century piper O’Carolan, and as O’Flynn says, ‘a hell of an effort’.

source: freakyparty.net

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Archive: 2005 – Planxty Live at The Point Depot, Dublin

Planxty – The Point Depot, Dublin, 4th January 2005

Review Snapshot:
A reunion concert sceptic is blown away by Ireland’s trad supergroup.
The CLUAS Verdict?
9 out of 10
Full review:

Short of The Smiths burying the hatchet anywhere other than firmly in between their respective shoulder blades, I generally don’t approve of bands reforming and screwing their fans one last time to top up their pensions. More often than not, what ensues is a sub-standard offering – take the recent shambolic Pogues Christmas karaoke. To put it mildly, I am underwhelmed at the prospect of catching Planxty, the privilege of which is costing me 65 euro (including the outrageous Ticketmaster charges?deep breaths, deep breaths). Still I have promised an exiled friend home for the holidays, so it is off to the Point with me.

As a general rule, I have a fondness for all genres of music, but as with jazz and blues, I usually enjoy trad for about fifteen minutes before I grow weary. As Planxty take to the stage, the crowd of a couple of thousand is attentive to the Point of being able to hear a pin drop – a complete atmosphere bypass, so all of the omens for an enjoyable night are bad. And then the music starts. The first thing of note is that the sound is absolute perfection, probably the best I’ve heard at a gig; precisely balanced, particularly in ensuring that Liam O’Flynn’s pipes do not drown out the delicate string playing. Christy Moore takes us through instant crowd pleasers of ‘The Good Ship Kangaroo’ and ‘Little Musgrave’ with Donal Lunney and Andy Irvine’s intricate mandolin and bouzouki complimenting each other beautifully. O’Flynn chips in with some excellent pipe and tin whistle and Christy is at his understated best, clearly relishing not being the centre of attention.

The first real show stopper of the night is O’Flynn’s rendition of the ‘Dark and Slender Boy’, an air that showcases the power and depth of harmonies a master player can extract from the pipes. As the songs roll on, you can only sit there and appreciate that you are listening to four musicians who if anything have only got better as time has passed. The fragility the years have brought to Irvine’s voice only adds to the charm. The tunes are timeless and their execution exemplary.

At the close, the Planxty standards of ‘The West Coast of Clare’ and ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy Rose’ bring the house down – two hours have passed in the blink of an eye. It has been thoroughly captivating. The encore includes Andy Irvine’s recently penned ‘O’Donoghues’ a reminiscence on their heyday when you couldn’t get arrested for playing this sort of music. I can only take it all back. Planxty have been worth every penny. They are masters of their craft and who could begrudge them their day in the sun having each spent thirty years championing this music.

Brian Farrelly

source: cluas.com


Planxty – Live in The Point Depot, Dublin

You know, it would be easy to consider Planxty a little naff. They play a mix of folk and trad, sing songs about the ‘West Coast Of Clare’ with lyrics that mention shillelaighs and were entertaining your parents before many of you were even born. But Planxty are much more than just a sentimental relic of the past…

You know, it would be easy to consider Planxty a little naff. They play a mix of folk and trad, sing songs about the ‘West Coast Of Clare’ with lyrics that mention shillelaighs and were entertaining your parents before many of you were even born.

But Planxty are much more than just a sentimental relic of the past, and it was perhaps the fact that it was No Disco’s premier indie boffin Leagues O’Toole who made the docu which lead to their reunion that made many in the younger generation sit up and take notice. Last year’s triumphant run of sold-out Planxty reunion shows in Vicar St. earned such a reception that the trad supergroup were bound to do an encore, which materialised recently in the shape of yet another run of packed concerts.

This time The Point was the venue for the veteran folk collective to weave their spell, and when Christy Moore prompts the assembled throng by describing how the crowd on the group’s first reunion night sang along to every word of ‘Cliffs Of Doneen’, the audience responds accordingly, providing perhaps the most spine-tingling moment of the evening.

This is about as far away from souvenir shop Irish muzak as it is possible to get. You go to a Planxty gig and not only do you get a whole world of balladry and songs opened to you, it comes with a compelling history lesson as well. Some groups pillage the ’60s for inspiration. These guys at times go back to the 1760s, but breath life into the songs by the vigour with which they play them.

The musicianship is simply incredible. Indeed, when Liam O Flionn starts blowing on the uileann pipes the other three look almost as mesmerized as the rest of us, providing the core around which Moore, Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine weave their guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis and bodhráns in different rhythms. He’s also the main wisecracker, going on about the “erotic experience of the double bodhran intro”, although all of them pipe up with a joke or story at one stage or another, the audience hanging on every word.

And when Christy relates the background to one song, when the four of them were in a pub and heard “songs we’d never heard before, and time stood still for a few hours”, you know exactly what he’s talking about.

Music Review/Live: 12 Jan 2005
Maurice O’Brien

source: hotpress.com

Setlist: 30th Jan 2008 – Andy Irvine & Paul Brady

30/Jan/2008  – Andy Irvine & Paul Brady,  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Reunion gig at Celtic Connections)

Setlist

Heather on the Moor
The Longford Weaver (Nancy's Whiskey)
Wearin' the Britches
Jigs (?)
As I Roved Out
I Am a Youth That's Inclined to Ramble
Băneasă's Green Glade
Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore
---
Martinmas Time / The Little Stack of Wheat
Lough Erne Shore
Reels ("Fred Finn's Reel / Sailing into Walpole's Marsh"??)
Streets of Derry
The Jolly Soldier / Blarney Pilgrim
Autumn Gold
Arthur McBride
Bonny Woodhall
Mary and the Soldier
Plains of Kildare
---
West Coast of Clare
The Lakes of Pontchartrain
The Blacksmith / Blacksmithereens

celticconnections_jan-2008_a-_-p-setlist