Liam Clancy,
Yes Those Were the Days
(Dolphin, 2006)

Yes, those were the days of the ballad boom and the revival in the folk tradition. All camps agree that much of the modern boom in Irish and Celtic music owes its origins and gratitude to a group of lads from Carrick on Suir aided and abetted by a lad from County Armagh.

The Clancys and Tommy Makem pioneered the boom, and then they left. Liam and Tommy worked as a duo for a time, and each ploughed the lone furrow, all to great acclaim.

This DVD gives the modern audience a unique chance to experience this maestro in action as he was in 1992. The concert originally played in Dublin's Olympia Theatre that year, and this DVD captures something of the atmosphere and the laidback delivery of the time. It is not a frenetic, angle-changing, high-tech lighting production with extras like how Clancy gets out of bed. It is what it says, a concert plain and simple.

For your money you get about two hours of musical magic produced by one voice and a select number of instruments. Liam gives us 27 tracks ranging from the familiar to the new (new then and sadly some sound new now because they did not get airplay) interspersed with a few lovely instrumental pieces.

As with any Liam Clancy concert the verbal jousting takes pride of place. Listen to him introduce songs by reciting poetry and prose pieces or recalling historical events, and you will not be surprised to learn of his theatrical leanings. When you hear these snippets you wonder how he might have fared in acting rather than music.

But you will purchase this DVD primarily for that music and he delivers the goods. From the opening track "Ballad of Saint Anne's Reel" through "The Dutchman" and "Roseville Fair" to the finale of "Journey's End" you will be enthralled. Even on DVD Clancy has that presence that can hold your attention whether it is with a song, a quote or just a look.

This is a record of a concert videoed when the fans of folk music still appeared rather staid, and as such it may have a secondary function as social comment. The people sing along reservedly, they clap politely and they look extremely self-conscious even when enjoying the "craic" that was and is a Liam Clancy concert.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

15 December 2007

what's new