Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy have been a successful duo since the mid-'70s, but their working relationsuip goes back even further to Clancy Brothers days. It was the Clancys who, in the '60s, reawakened American interest in Irish music with their exuberant songs of drinking, wenching and independent politicking.
"The Makem and Clancy Concert" has plenty of the boisterous energy and good humor one would expect, but the duo has expanded the Clancy concept to include storytelling and an occasional poem. Both singers are also able actors blessed with wonderfully rich speaking voices. As a result, one of the standout cuts on this double album is a chillingly beautiful 10-minute version of Gordon Bok's "Peter Kagen and the Wind." It's a half-told, half-sung story of love and transformation on the sea. With a moody baroque backdrop of flute, viola and violin, it's a true folk epic.
Makem has great fun with Southern American dialect on "The 200-Year-Old Alcoholic" and there's a bagful of songs on emptying the bottle and a few of the reasons for so doing (including the tongue twister, "Mary Mack").
But one of Makem and Clancy's strengths is the ballad form, and there are some outstanding examples here, from "The Dutchman," a moving evocation of love and old age, the Gaelic lament "Ar Eirinn Ni Neosainn Ce hi" to Eric Bogel's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," one of the most eloquent, emotional anti-war songs of our times. All in all, this is a lovely and wise-ranging package. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM
TOMMY MAKEM & LIAM CLANCY -- The Makem and Clancy Concert (Shanachie 52003). THE CONCERT
TOMMY MAKEM & LIAM CLANCY, Sunday at 8 at Lisner Auditorium.