From left: Glen Hansard, Elvis Costello, Imelda May, Andy Irvine, Lisa Hannigan and John Sheehan at the Celebration of British and Irish Culture Concert in the Royal Albert Hall in London during President Michael D. Higgins’s five-day state visit to Britain in 2014.
ROLLINGNEWS.IE/ARAS AN UACHTARAIN
By Daniel Neely
Andy Irvine nine-day tour of the United States began last Friday and will be taking him through Michigan, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York. Regular readers of the column will know that I’m not generally in the habit of announcing tours, but it’s a post Irvine made to his Facebook wall last week, prior to his tour, that has piqued my curiosity. It read: “Starting tomorrow for my last tour of the US. As ever, looking forward to seeing so many good friends and enjoying their company and the pleasure of playing for good people.
“It’s my last tour because the U.S. powers that be just make it too difficult. From the 30 percent withholding tax, to the tiresome, expensive and ultimately humiliating application for a work visa – which very often doesn’t come through in time. “Most of all, to the totally unfair disparity between a US musician touring Ireland and all this s*** we have to go through to tour over there, enough is enough. Age is a factor and so is political uncertainty.”
From Sweeney’s Men and Planxty, to Patrick Street and Mozaik, the 74-year-old Irvine has proven himself one of the colossal figures in Irish music. He is brilliant and he delights audiences with his performances, but what he’s done here is express the real world frustrations that many Irish traditional artists and presenters know all too well. It is a shame that he’s been forced into making this decision.