Live Review: Andy Irvine, Junction 2, Cambridge, October 5th 2022

Photo: J. Aird

A much delayed gig for Andy Irvine at the Junction 2, with an audience turn-out doubtless still affected by the ongoing pandemic if only with the attendant difficulties of a rearranged date. The increased intimacy that this should have created was somewhat negated at first by the stage layout, with Andy Irvine and his many instruments set well back from the stage edge. But, this is Andy Irvine so within a few songs that connection was well in place as song followed rapidly on song, with a good measure of between song introductions and explanations. The opener was a guitar and harmonica accompanied version of Marcus Turner’s ‘When The Boys Are On Parade‘ which was introduced with the reflection that no matter how impressive the pageantry surrounding the recent Queen’s funeral that isn’t really what the “boys” have been employed to do. It emphasized, from the start, that political folk-singer is a big part of what Andy Irvine is. There may be humorous songs along the way such as the shaggy dog story of ‘My Son In Amerikay‘, and the a cappella recollection of a young man’s admiration of the girls in Ljubljana in ‘As Good As It Gets‘ but even a song such as ‘Plains of Kildare‘ can carry a spin as Irvine wryly comments whilst introducing it that he wouldn’t be singing it if the other horse had won. There’s a beautiful and mournful version of ‘Erin’s Green Shore‘ and an interesting ‘Erin Go Bragh‘ played at a greater lick than this story of prejudice violently rejected is often retold at.

Whilst the guitar and harmonica accompanied ‘A Prince Among Men‘ gratefully recalls a hardworking miner who wanted his son to not work underground, the sprightly ‘Here’s a Health to Every Miner Lad‘ with it’s raggedly joined in chorus is a celebration of Unionised Labour – concluding with a curse on “that ruthless Iron Lady / …. / may her name be never mentioned but her deeds be ne’er forgot.” Andy Irvine’s singing of ‘The Blacksmith‘ is a benchmark of how to deliver a well known song from the folk cannon – it’s made anew every time. The encore of ‘Never Tire Of The Road‘ brought together Andy Irvine’s admiration for Woody Guthrie with a borrowing of possibly Guthrie’s most directly political chorus, which provided an increasingly confident sing-a-long of “all you fascists bound to lose“, a sentiment which one can never tire of. Andy Irvine mentioned that his next release will be a collection of Guthrie covers – and generally not the best known ones. He added that it’s planned to be a band effort – so it will be released once he can get everyone else to finish their parts for it. Something to look for in the New Year.  As is every future opportunity to catch one of the finest musicians and singers still out regularly on the folk circuit, and long may that continue.

About Jonathan Aird 2722 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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Graham Cole

Good to read this, having thoroughly enjoyed Andy’s first show of the tour in Winchester. He never fails to give a great show.

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