Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Concert
Review
Index
(All Reviews Since 2004)

 
Leave feedback

Copyright Nick Morgan and crew

 
Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
PLANXTY  

PLANXTY
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
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.

PLANXTY   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.



Check the index of all reviews:
Nick's Concert Reviews

 

 
There's nothing more down there...
 

 

Drink Blog Code