August 22, 2014 - Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny Review #irishmusic

What a whirlwind of a time!! First, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny put on a stellar show at the Irish American Heritage Center (see review below), then we went up to Milwaukee Irish Fest to enjoy the music and craic and to do a slot  at the Pub Garden Stage. Our impressions of Milwaukee IrishFest will be covered in the next Blog Post, first up, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny: Review by Patrick Cannady.

"Thursday night, August 14 saw the return of two iconic performers to Chicago, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny.  The evening was successful on multiple levels with strong attendance by a genial, enthusiastic, well-behaved crowd, powerful performances, high quality professional sound engineering, and an electric atmosphere.
The audience was well warmed up by the Academy of Irish Music’s senior performance group, featuring a string quintet of three violins, a viola, and a cello, joined by flute, whistle, bouzouki, and bodhran.  The extra strings gave their arrangements a particular sweetness and dimension, with the viola and cello adding a great deal of warmth.  Their performance combined arrangements of traditional tunes and self-composed passages, which were carefully sequenced and utilized a full range of dynamics and harmonies.  The audience received their efforts with genuine enthusiasm.

The headliners set contained many favorites from Andy and Donal’s lengthy careers, e.g., “Arthur McBride,” “Bean Paidin,” “The Plains of Kildare,” “Siobhan Ni Duibhir,” “Beanasa’s Green Glade,” “The Braes of Moneymore,” “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure,” and many others.  Andy switched between a mandola and a guitar-bodied bouzouki while handling most of the singing.  Donal played bouzouki and guitar, providing some backing vocals and singing a couple of songs himself.  

Andy’s playing was most impressive on the mandola and bouzouki while singing at the same time – not just strumming chords, but playing very intricate melodies and contrapuntal passages while possibly singing a different melody altogether, with flawless execution and, more importantly, great expression.  Donal provided strong, rhythmic accompaniment whether on guitar or bouzouki, often weaving in snippets of single line melodies and counter melodies to compliment Andy’s own intricate picking.  Their arrangements also included a number of dance tunes, including some Bulgarian dance tunes in odd meters that somehow fit in with the mostly Irish material.  The overall impression of plucked and shimmering string sounds with Andy’s matter-of-fact delivery and folk tenor voice brought back memories of many hours listening to great recordings of the duo in their earlier days, and they did not suffer at all in comparison to their younger selves.  They still had it, and the evidence was very apparent.  The crowd went mad for them, responding wildly and enthusiastically.  We sincerely hope we will see them again in Chicago sometime soon.