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ANDY IRVINE - 70th Birthday Concert

ANDY IRVINE - 70th Birthday Concert

Even after some 50-odd years in the business, Andy Irvine never seems to take a break from touring – wherever you look he seems to be playing in a club or at a festival somewhere and he is still enchanting audiences with interesting and intricate music, song and arrangements. Not bad for a man now in his early seventies! This is a CD of another special live gig.

Recorded live over two nights in 2012 at Vicar Street, Dublin, to celebrate Andy's 70th birthday, this 12 track CD captures the spirit of those performances well. Mixed and produced by Donal Lunny, it is a quality recording that still retains the feel of the live concert, with audience reactions present throughout, especially in the finale – a blistering rendition of A Blacksmith Courted Me / Blacksmithereens which includes nearly everyone who performed in the concert.

The music features Andy in various musical guises from down through the years – with Sweeney's Men, Mosaic, Paul Brady and LAPD. The cast list is a mini ‘who's who’ of musicians: Johnny Moynihan, Terry Woods, Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Glackin, Paul Brady, Bruce Molsky, Nicola Parov, Rens van der Zalm, George Galiatsos and Manolis Galiatsos.

If you know Andy's music you will love this – it's like a greatest hits album! We are treated to lots of old favourites from some of the best known collaborations in Andy's career, but given the 'live treatment'. Andy sings some of his better known songs, but Johnny Moynihan and Terry Woods also contribute a few classics from the Sweeney's Men days (Rattlin' Roarin Willie / My Dearest Dear) and Paul Brady ably delivers The Jolly Soldier which is an epic blast from the past.

Mozaic play some of their incredible Eastern/Old Timey pieces (I still try to count those 9/16 and 11/16 time tunes but I usually give up in disgust and just sit back and enjoy them) and LAPD provide the nearest thing to the Planxty sound that anyone could ask for (without Christy Moore, of course, but with the excellent Paddy Glackin).

The sleeve notes give a bit of background to the tunes and some of the history of Andy's various musical incarnations. There is also a DVD available from the gig - 17 tracks recorded by Philip King for TG4, featuring mostly different tracks to those on the CD with only a few duplicated, so you have a good excuse to get your hands on both.

If only I wasn't old enough to have enjoyed this music first time around - but then again, Andy's still playing it and he's just a wee bit older than me!

Jim Byrne

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.