|Travelling Troubadour Andy Irvine|
Irvine covered an entertaining set list of songs that mixed new material from his album, Abocurragh, with songs from his extensive back catalog, setting the context with anecdotes from his multifaceted career. I enjoyed the biographical song, O'Donoghue's, which gave a glimpse into his milieu in 1962, can it really be a almost five decades ago? 'The Close Shave' a very funny song but true for Andy , once heard , like a joke, it doesn't bear constant retelling via recording and is probably best heard in a live setting. The political songs , particularly the final encore, Michael Davitt were very powerful and resonated with current political woes.
Irvine's musical hertitage is rich and ranges from Sweeney's men, Planxty, Dé Danann through to Mosaik, a duo with Arty McGlynn and Paul Brady and more recently as a solo artist. Some of his songs chronicle his musical past. A wonderful musician and entertainer, he was well received by his many fans after the show when he came front of house ( John O Conor take note) to meet and sign autographs and it is inspiring to meet an artist who truly seems ' never to tire of the road'. I was delighted to meet Clare based songsmith Brian Flynn of Clare FM in the audience and I am looking forward to hearing the interview he recorded with Irvine. Going on this experience, it is hard to imagine a more engaging guest with a such an interesting history to draw on.
As far as I know, Irvine has not written a memoir but there are some interesting notes chronicling some of his adventures and collaborations on his website . http://www.andyirvine.com/
There is no doubting Andy Irvine's, intelligence, talent and enthusiasm but there was something lacking at this gig . Irvine struggled to connect with the audience whom it seems he could not hear or see and we were more like an early morning congregation with a chilly silence threatening to deepen when not filled by song or anecdote. The Glór stage, while very suitable for the 200 school children it had hosted last week, was just not a convivial platform for this solo artist and it must have been like playing behind a glassscreen What a relief Irvine had brought his woolly jumper to keep out the chill . A solo singer does not have a fellow musician to bounce off and needs more than an ensemble player to feel that resonance with the audience in front of him. Elements such as lighting and the sheer distance in height level between the floor and stage area seem to conspire against such a connection .
There must be a way of creating a convivial space somewhere in this centre suitable for a more intimate of gathering of less than 100 or so? I wonder why the option to place the performer on the floor closing the theatre space as I have seen done here before was not taken? How would it work if the artist and audience were to share the platform space or the gallery space upstairs? The area behind the bar was used to good effect by Len Graham who banished the chill with a cheerful projection of a roaring fire. This is not the first time I have witnessed artists struggling to engage with their audience in this auditorium and I was reminded of Sandy Kelly appealing for a torch light to be turned on so she could glimpse a face in the audience or young students from Maoin Cheoil an Chlair blinking as they nervously approached the microphone to play their solos for mams and dads who were mere feet away.