Planxty | Whelan's Dublin

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Not advertised as anything other than an Andy Irvine gig, this Tuesday night at Dublin's premier roots/rock venue might have expected perhaps a hundred punters. Instead, it's packed like a sardine tin. Although it had only come together over the previous couple of days - essentially Donal Lunny and Christy Moore coming over all nostalgic, and with the same free dates in their diaries - the word was out that Planxty were having a reunion. Planxty's music in the Seventies has made them the Beatles of the modern Celtic music movement. Nobody thought it would ever happen again, but the crowd were in for a rare treat indeed.

Not advertised as anything other than an Andy Irvine gig, this Tuesday night at Dublin's premier roots/rock venue might have expected perhaps a hundred punters. Instead, it's packed like a sardine tin. Although it had only come together over the previous couple of days - essentially Donal Lunny and Christy Moore coming over all nostalgic, and with the same free dates in their diaries - the word was out that Planxty were having a reunion. Planxty's music in the Seventies has made them the Beatles of the modern Celtic music movement. Nobody thought it would ever happen again, but the crowd were in for a rare treat indeed.

"This seemed like a good idea until this morning..." mumbled Andy, who handled the burden of expectations admirably during a solo first half that not only held the feverish crowd's attention but grasped the nettle to remind everyone of his skill as an entertainer and as an artist of rare breadth. His repertoire of dustbowl ballads, bawdy sailor songs, the most delicate of Irish laments and the most complex of Balkan dance tunes seemed, in his hands, to be perfect bedfellows.

Donal Lunny joined Andy for the second half, generating a huge roar of approval with the opening bars of "The Plains Of Kildare" - sinuous, dynamic and exploding with energy, the Planxty equivalent of "Paperback Writer". The thrill continued: "My Heart's Tonight In Ireland" (Andy's playfully evocative memoir of the pre-Planxty Sweeney's Men); "Horo" (from a doomed post-Planxty Irvine/Lunny project with various Bulgarian musicians); and Irvine's traditional show-closer "Never Tire Of The Road".

But far from closing, fourth gear went into fifth with the brilliantly on-form entrance of Christy Moore. Andy mumbled something about the shock of re-listening to old Planxty records that very morning; "I thought they were all dead," said Christy, wryly setting the tone for a set of gloriously full-scale, no-rehearsal revivals from the old group, held together with splendid badinage - self-deprecating of course, but tinged with communal pride. Even Andy, who had earlier felt uneasy about the whole thing, was clearly blown away by not only the reception to but the playing of the likes of "Arthur McBride", "The Blacksmith" and a mesmerising "Musgrave and Lady Barnard".

At the third encore it was revealed that the fourth original member, Liam O'Flynn, had been up for it but couldn't get a boat off the Arran Islands in time. But that ramshakle, last-minute spirit was what made the evening so special.

Comments