There’s no Bono, alas, but the new concert DVD Absolutely Irish brings together the brightest stars of traditional Irish music for a once in-a-lifetime concert that will leave folk music fans appreciatively awed by its virtuoso performances.
Filmed live at the intimate Irish Arts Center in New York City’s famed Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, this disc finds Irish music impresario Mick Moloney presenting three generations of brilliant musicians as they display their mastery on much-beloved jigs, reels and airs, then rock the hall with contemporary takes on favorite traditional tunes. Clearly shot and crisply captured, Absolutely Irish includes
performances by whistle player Joanie Madden; fiddlers Liz Carroll,
Eileen Ivers and Athena Tergis; flute and banjo player Seamus Egan;
guitarist John Doyle; singers Karan Casey, Robbie O’Connell and Susan
McKeown; concertina player Tim Collins;
accordionist Billy McComiskey; dancers Niall O’Leary and Darrah
Carr; and piper Jerry O’Sullivan. There are also special guest appearances by two living legends — 80-year-old flute player Mike Rafferty and 85-year-old Irish dancer Jo McNamara — and a heart-tugging rendition of “Leaving Liverpool” performed by the entire ensemble. Absolutely Irish belies the sometimes misguided notion that folk music is an utterly American tradition, and showcases some of the best talent on the Irish music scene today.
Housed in a regular Amray plastic case, Absolutely Irish runs around 70 minutes, and is presented in anamorphic widescreen, enhanced for 16×9 televisions. The DVD also includes bonus footage of eight additional performances taped at the same venue. A bit of commentary or interview footage would have been a nice inclusion as well — just to get a chance to better know some of these personalities — but for those already heartily interested in the trad-Irish music scene, this is a nice value. To order any DVD or VHS release from WGBH Boston Video, including Absolutely Irish, call (800) 949-8670 or click here to visit their web site. B- (Movie) B- (Disc)