Vicar St.

Archive: Planxty Live 2004 – CD/DVD Reviews

Sony 517319 2

The roars from the audience on this live CD say it all: not mere enthusiasm, more like primal expressions of joy from those lucky enough to have witnessed, in the first weeks of 2004, the historical reassemblage of Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Liam O’Flynn and Andy Irvine into the legendary supergroup Planxty.

After 1973, once these boys had invigorated it, traditional Irish music was never the same again. Already virtuoso players with a vast love of the tradition, they infused their music with youthful energy and innovations from subtle harmonies to driving rhythms and the introduction of the bouzouki. Reformed for a dozen Irish concerts after a 21 year lay-off, the band played to ecstatic full houses and recorded this CD and a DVD for posterity.

The track list is a Planxty fan’s dream and rightly so – why abandon a great repertoire unused for two decades? From the off, the sound is unmistakable – the melodic, intricate weavings of Lunny and Irvine’s bouzouki and mandolin, the rhythmic drive, and above all, O’Flynn’s razor-sharp uilleann pipes, locked rail-tight and flying over, in and through everything else. Moore and Irvine’s voices are a little mellower, the familiar songs given maybe a little more bite: The Good Ship Kangaroo, Arthur McBride, Little Musgrave, The Blacksmith (chased by the tumbling, Balkan-inspired Black Smithereens), two versions of As I Roved Out, The West Coast Of Clare … and the real prize, Raggle Taggle Gypsy with its classic segue into Tabhair Dom Do Lámh, still a heart-stopper after all these years.

There’s nostalgia value aplenty but there’s nothing dated or outworn from these four, who clearly still delight in each other’s company. One gets the sense that on- and offstage spontaneous combustion was only narrowly avoided – you can feel hairs standing up on necks, the sense of prodigals returned, family restored. Just pray the rumours of more gigs turn out to be true.

Mel McClellan - July 2004

source: www.bbc.co.uk


Music Review/Album: 09 Jun 2004

Twenty years after going their separate ways, Planxty came together for a series of twelve concerts in Vicar Street and Glór…

Planxty, in their original line-up of Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn, were arguably the most influential of any of the early Irish folk bands. Their legacy can be heard in the sound of virtually every group to grace the traditional music scene since, from Altan to Dervish to Stockton’s Wing.

Twenty years after going their separate ways, these four musicians – all of whom went on to become legends in their own right – came together for a series of twelve concerts in Vicar Street and Glór. Happily for those who didn’t make it to any of those extraordinary shows, a CD and DVD have now been released featuring excerpts from them.

From the first spontaneous roar from the crowd as O’Flynn’s rock-solid pipes make their entrance on ‘The Starting Gate’, it’s evident that something magical is afoot. The four mesh together as though they’d never been apart, especially when Moore, Irvine and Lunny join in rich three-part vocal harmony on ‘The Good Ship Kangaroo’. And always at the musical centre there’s O’Flynn, his whistle and pipes a massive, deep-rooted core around which guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis and bodhráns dance in contrasting rhythms that intertwine delicately with nary a clash.

All the classics are represented – ‘Arthur McBride’, ‘Little Musgrave’, ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’, ‘The Blacksmith’ – this latter segueing into ‘Black Smithereens’, a Balkan-inspired riot of syncopation with pipes and strings alternating in call-and-response style. O’Flynn’s solo turn on the slow air ‘The Dark Slender Boy’ is a high point, as is Irvine’s haunting ‘The West Coast of Clare’.

If you were lucky enough to be there, this recording will take you back. If you weren’t, close your eyes while you listen to it … or better yet, get hold of the DVD and watch it in a darkened room. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself whooping and shouting along with those fortunate punters in the audience.

Sarah McQuaid - Hotpress

source: hotpress.com


Columbia 202534 9; 2004

After initially testing the water in Lisdoonvarna the previous October, Planxty’s Dublin homecoming saw the reunited foursome playing a series of joyously received concerts. The venue was Vicar Street, a snug 300-seater where the front row is just a few feet from the stage.

Live 2004 offers selections from one of those concerts and features several tracks not present on the CD of the same name. These include Christy Moore’s eloquent song True Loves Knows No Season and Liam O’Flynn’s piping tour de force, the Carolan tune Sí Bheag Sí Mhór.

There’s plenty of stage banter (and one of Christy’s famous examples of how to put down a heckler) and the camera captures both the intimacy of the occasion and the intricacy of Planxty’s musicianship. Indeed watching close-ups of O’Flynn’s flying fingers and the intertwining devilry produced by Andy Irvine and Dónal Lunny on the strings is fascinating in itself.

Additionally, the DVD includes three bonus tracks, Andy’s song My Heart is Tonight in Ireland, Christy’s version of Mickey McConnell’s Only Our Rivers Run Free and an O’Flynn whistle solo O’Dwyer of the Glen.

But that’s not all you get for your money, for the DVD also features a documentary by Philip King and Nuala O’Connor on the band’s reformation, including some wonderful monochrome archive footage from the early 1970s (and, it has to be said, some wonderful archive hairstyles too) demonstrating just how impassioned Planxty’s music was then and remains so now. As their erstwhile manager remarks of the band, with especial reference to Liam, “You had three hippies up there … and you had this civil servant in the middle, and he’s producing the magic.”

Add to that a separate section of interviews with each of the band (including Christy’s tale of “the man from Portlaoise” – you’ll have to buy the DVD to learn what that’s all about) and this is almost the perfect package. It loses that one star simply because, hard to credit, but the band subsequently achieved even greater heights, as revealed by their momentous Barbican gig.

This review by Geoff Wallis was written for Songlines magazine

source: www.songlines.co.uk.


Sleeve Note from Leagues O’Toole:

Amongst other things, the year 2004 will be remembered for the public re-assembling of Planxty for twelve concerts – two in Glór, Ennis, in the music heartland of County Clare, and ten in the plush confines of Vicar St, Dublin – their first live performances in twenty-something years. †This is an event of some considerable historical and cultural magnitude, rendered all the more pertinent given the seamless realignment of Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn and Christy Moore.

Surreptitious rehearsals in Paddy Doherty’s Spa Hotel in Lisdoonvarna the previous October had revealed to the Planxty players that the chemistry was alive and well and ready to blow. And so it did, as each night the music tumbled magically from their fingers, smiles stretched across our faces, heads bobbed, feet tapped, Christy ‘hupped,’ and we all set adrift on a musical journey that would sail us through the full gamut of emotions.

A cast of odd characters starred each night; lusty blacksmiths, murderous Lords and adulterous Ladies, mighty mariners, raggle taggle gypsies, and shillelagh-wielding latchecos. There was drama, laughs, slagging, jubilation, reflection, and love coming from every corner of the room. The songs and tunes came to us from decades and centuries gone, from 17th century harp music, to the singing of John Reilly, to the priceless pages of the PW Joyce Collection.

‘The Starting Gate’ eases us into the music with delicacy and intricacy, quickly introducing that building block technique that marks so much of Planxty’s music; the blissful bouzouki-mandolin marriage, the otherworldly whistle, the drone, the raspy guitar, the thump of the bodhrán. And in the middle of this melee is Liam O’Flynn whose knife-edge precision piping raises a roar from the audience and elevates the music to the high heavens.

On his solo piece, ‘The Dark Slender Boy’ a mood of pin-drop rapture cloaks the room as Liam bends yearning notes and stretches whirring drones into this profoundly mournful music. In contrast, on ‘The Clare Jig’ his pastoral whistle dances gleefully between the double-bodhrán attack of Donal and Christy.

There are some fantastic stories told within the songs performed here. ‘Arthur McBride’ is an anti-conscription / anti-war song, and one which resonates as much with Planxty’s virgin audience as it does with veterans of the 70s. Here, Andy Irvine calls upon his colleagues to back him up on a suitably rousing rowdy-dow-dow chorus. The nine-minute plus ‘Little Musgrave’ is a poetically written fable of love, lust, infidelity, jealousy, murder, and remorse – the words to which Christy Moore found on pages scattered on the floor of an auctioneers in the early 70s. This particular rendition captures the singer in majestic free-flow.

We rarely discuss Planxty without referencing the unusual new flavours, arrangements, and instruments they brought to traditional Irish music. In a demonstration of their peerlessly inventive verve, they stitch ‘Blacksmithereens’ (a tune based on Andy’s first impressions of Balkans music) onto an old English folk song, ‘The Blacksmith’. This fiery performance is driven by Donal Lunny’s robust, rhythmic, bouzouki and underpinned by Liam’s dramatic phrasing, which prompts another round of hollering from the congregation.

The loudest roar though is reserved for one of the most celebrated segues in traditional music – that invisible bridge from ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ to ‘Tabhair Dom Do Lámh’. And who could deny Andy’s ‘West Coast of Clare,’ a lament of unrivalled pathos that has heads bowed in contemplation right across the venue. It’s rare to see an audience so possessed. It’s little wonder they received standing ovations every night upon entering and exiting the stage.

Nights like those in January and February of 2004 have been wished for, dreamt of, and fantasized about by thousands of Irish music fans for over two decades. We arrived excited, anxious, and downright nervous – there was a lot at stake; memories, expectations, and reputations. We left smiling, speechless, and wondering would we ever see their likes again.

It was a good start to the year.

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Archive: 2004 – Planxty Live At Vicar St. Dublin Reviews

Micheál Martin should bottle and dispense Planxty: with curative properties that should tackle every ailment from ingrown toenails to cancer. Endorphins were flowing so fervently across the entire audience last Friday in Vicar St that we levitated rather than ambled towards the exits.

There was an air of expectation hanging over the crowd beforehand that would fire a rocket launcher. 23 years is a mighty long time to wait for the rekindling, but somehow we guessed that the wait would be worth it.

Just as soon as Liam Ó Floinn exhorted the rest of them to ‘take it away boys’, we knew we were on home turf and that not only would the sods be cut, but that they’d be turned, footed and loaded on the trailer by the time the lights came up, an exhilarating two hours later.

Ó Floinn’s invisible readying of the bellows, Lunny’s and Irvine’s intricate tapestry of bouzouki and mandolin, and Christy’s nervy introductions had the sardine-packed audience on the edge of their seats from the get go. Lunny’s bouzouki has always been credited as the engine of the band, and rightly so, his muscular, driving rhythms marking out their territory. Andy Irvine’s mandolin and guitar cross-stitched in between with that old familiar ease, his vocals lending their characteristic finesse to the pot. And Christy’s sheer ebullience guaranteed that the epic sagas such as The Good Ship Kangaroo gathered all before them in their welcoming gabháil.

But Liam Ó Floinn was the lynchpin that not only held them together but bolstered them so securely that they could take flight. His utterly controlled, surgically precise reading of everything from Sí Bheag Sí Mhór to Tabhair Dom Do Lámh and An Buachaill Chaol Dubh was enough to lure the hardiest of piping allergists into the midst of the mêlée. And when he sidled into the heart of Christy’s ultimate set piece, that spellbinding, 26 verse tale of adultery, murder (and true love) that is Little Musgrave, well, some of us simply exited the planet at that moment, content to float free on the sheer genius and magic of the ensemble playing.

They acknowledged their inheritances generously, from Ballyvourney’s Elizabeth Cronin to Mickey McConnell and John Reilly. They traced the thread from Turlough O’Carolan all the way to the anonymous donation of Little Musgrave, found by Christy on a series of loose pages languishing on an auctioneer’s floorboards.

There were punters there who probably still have the stubs of their tickets from the early days. Everyone just knew that this was going to be something special. For those of us who’d lived their music through the albums, never having witnessed them in 3D, it was akin to an awakening. Liam Ó Floinn’s pipes were the real revelation, the Marilyn Monroe who burst from the cake at JFK’s birthday party. Breaths will be held in anticipation of their live album, and after that, who knows? But these boys’ appetites for one another’s company won’t be easily sated by a dozen New Year gigs. New tunes are lurking very close to the stage door. We could almost hear them tiptoeing towards Lunny’s bouzouki as we floated home.

Siobhan Long – Irish Times

source: www.irishtimes.com


Music Review/Live: 13 Feb 2004
Colm O’Hare

It’ll doubtless go down as the most anticipated (and long awaited) re-union in Irish music history. More than thirty years after they first transformed the possibilities of Irish music forever, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young of trad/folk finally decide to re-convene for a series of gigs.

It’ll doubtless go down as the most anticipated (and long awaited) re-union in Irish music history. More than thirty years after they first transformed the possibilities of Irish music forever, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young of trad/folk finally decide to re-convene for a series of gigs. It was always going to be a bit special but few could’ve predicted the reaction when it finally happened; ten sold-out gigs with many travelling from abroad to witness what may well become known as the “third coming”. The venue helped hugely – Vicar St. is the perfect location for such a celebration – intimate enough to make it involving for the audience and big enough to cater for the demand.

It was better than anyone could have hoped. Looking remarkably fit and healthy, the original line-up of Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn and Christy Moore strode out to a heroes welcome. Clearly well-rehearsed, they trawled the hallowed Planxty back catalogue with renewed vigour. Along with some unforgettable ensemble playing (their strongest point), they each took the spotlight in turn; Christy performed a stunning pair of ballads, including a particularly breathtaking version of ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’. You could hear a pin drop as Liam O’Flynn took centre stage for a stunning, ‘Buchaill Caol Dubh’, while Andy Irvine’s ‘West Coast of Clare’ was as moving as ever. Donal Lunny’s bouzouki playing tied it all together magnificently.

It was also a night of stories and fond reminiscences. Christy remarked that the band had talked about getting back together more than once over the last 20 years. “We’d meet up, play a few tunes and then go home and forget all about it,” he laughed.” He went on to say that they finally decided to take the plunge after watching Leagues O’Toole’s No Disco documentary special.

Another rare sight was Christy playing the keyboards. That he did so with such skill and finesse, adding subtle touches and flourishes in all the right places was even more more surprising. We were treated with two variations of ‘As I Roved Out’. The atmosphere was electric as their best loved and most recognisable piece ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ segued into ‘Tabhair dom do Lamh’, while the encores included a rapturously received ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’

“We’ll never see their likes again,” said one man on the way out. “Some of us will,” quipped another. “I’m coming back again next week”

It was that kind of night. Encore!

source: www.hotpress.com/

Review: ANDY IRVINE & PAUL BRADY AT VICAR ST, DUBLIN – 20 MAY 2017

WORDS: JAY WILSON ARTICLE PUBLISHED: MAY 30, 2017
“Apparently there are 102 strings on stage,” quips Paul Brady as he tunes one of the impressive array of instruments ranged behind him and Andy Irvine. Dónal Lunny has a couple of string instruments to go along with his bodhrán and keyboard. Kevin Burke seems comparatively modest with his violin’s four strings.
The more unusual instruments, like the bouzouki and the hurdy-gurdy, and the guitars in various tunings, are a testament to the restless curiosity that culminated in the 1976 album ‘Andy Irvine and Paul Brady’. Tuning between songs allows time for stories to flow, and Irvine and Brady give background to the original compositions (“from the mad brains we had back in the 70s”), and to those songs sourced from others such as Eddie Butcher, Andy Mitchell, Shirley Collins, Paddy Tunney, and Sam Henry.
The wounded soldier’s love song, Bonny Woodhall, from Sam Henry’s collection, has a beautiful accompaniment that swirls around Irvine’s clear vocal. The instrumentation builds throughout, drawing the listener into the story as it unfolds. Most of the instruments are picked up by microphones so there is a wonderful immediacy as every pluck and bow is amplified.
The two Sligo tunes that follow, Fred Finn’s Reel and Sailing Into Walpole’s Marsh, are lead by Brady and the reflective mood of the previous song is chased away by the banter between the four musicians (“drain that marsh!”). Lunny picks up the bodhrán for these, lending a very satisfying, full bass sound to the melody instruments.
Brady tells of receiving a letter while “languishing in the US in the early 70s”, from Liam O’Flynn asking him to join Planxty. The only song he had was a version of Arthur McBride and the Sergeant. Irvine recalls the first time Brady sang it for them in Donegal, and we are treated to a genuinely moving performance of this treasured favourite. The crowd burst into prolonged applause after the final “…for it being on Christmas morning”, and as the assembly settle back into their seats, Lunny confirms with a smile that “…they let him into Planxty!”
Irvine’s plaintive Autumn Gold follows, preceded by his amusing recollection of singing it in a barn to the girl he wrote it for “…just the two of us there…she never said a f**king word!”
After these two moving songs comes The Jolly Soldier, sung by Brady. His voice is in fine form, rich and strong. Andy Irvine’s excellent harmonica playing leads the charge in the jig that follows out of the song, The Blarney Pilgrim. Brady can’t resist lilting along.
It’s forty years since the album’s release. The performers and the audience are older, this music now a precious thread woven into all their lives. There is deep joy and exhilaration shared in Vicar Street tonight as it is spun out again through the hands of these four master musicians.
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This review appeared originally on GoldenPlec.com.
David Rooney‘s scraperboard picture appeared originally in Hot Press magazine. Contact him to buy the original.

Source: goldenplec.com