NewhamptonArts Centre, Wolverhampton
Dublin balladeer Andy Irvine has a folk pedigree as good as anyone’s and to his session at the arts centre in Whitmore Reans, he brought his wealth of experience, with groups such as Planxty and Sweeney’s Men, along with the tradition of uncluttered folk music.
|Andy Irvine, picture courtesy of Brian Hartigan
Even if you didn’t know he was one of Irvine’s heroes his earthy similarity and musical observation would immediately remind you of the great Woody Guthrie.
His skill with the range of guitars he brings with him is incredible to watch and wonderful to listen to.
The singer’s subtle banter both about and between the songs enthralled the audience most notably with the Spirit of Mother Jones, about a union activist and thorn in the side of American industrialists.
The traditional themes were there of love, betrayal and rakes in the track Reynardine, and adventures on the sea.
One in particular Close Shave had the audience in fits of laughter at the misfortune of a sailor particularly fond of the drink.
Notwithstanding the fact he needs to label the many harmonicas, he brings with him his musical playfulness in songs such as Monaghans which recount his days in Dublin rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ronnie Drew and Barney McKenna of The Dubliners. Irvine was a child actor and one of his first appearances and his mother’s last was at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton which he recalled fondly in between the songs.
As you would expect he played some of the tracks from his new album Abocurragh including Empty Handed and Oslo/Norwegian Mazurka which allowed him to really give his fingers a work out and impress the audience with his playing skills.
Andy is teaming up with Billy Bragg for a centenary celebration of the legendary Woody Guthrie in Vicar Street, 58 Thomas Street, Dublin 2 on Monday September 17 from 8 pm, see his website for the link.