If you’ve ever journeyed into the Irish music genre then you’ll likely be met with only a handful of truly good talent. While recent bands like Flogging Molly have taken the Irish music genre and infused a bit of Ramones-style punk rock into it, classic bands like The Chieftains have been playing some of the best Irish music to ever hit the shelves. With a history spanning nearly fifty years, The Chieftains have become the penultimate band as far as Irish music is concerned and with this 1997 Montreux concert it’s easy to see why they’ve gone unmatched for as long as they have.
Founded by Paddy Maloney in 1962, The Chieftains were one of the first bands to popularize Irish traditional music around the world and today their status as one of the finest Irish bands of all time remains unchallenged. They have received awards from around the world including 6 Grammys and an Emmy and worked alongside some of the greatest names in pop, classical and folk music. This superb concert from Montreux features the classic line-up in a blend of song, music and dance that draws from the Irish tradition but encompasses influences as disparate as Galicia and the Rolling Stones.
There’s always been something about Irish music that was rather addictive to me. Whether it was the bagpipes being played at the end of Star Trek: Wrath of Khan or the jig played under decks in Titanic, the music has always stuck with me. As a result whenever I hear a new band that seems to be mildly inspired by them I tend to latch on, although in the case of Flogging Molly I latched on too quick and became rather saturated with their music over the course of a long weekend and am now quite sated as far as Irish punk rock goes.
But here comes The Chieftains to reinvigorate my interest in the genre with a whole mess of classics from their “Long Black Veil” and “Santiago” CDs from 1995 and 1996 respectively. While I’d never heard the original albums prior to seeing this concert, I was nonetheless relentlessly entertained by what I found on this disc. While the Montreux festival was created to promote Jazz, the festival and theatre has seen all kinds of talent over the years (including KoRn, which may be the most out of place band to play there yet) so The Chieftains showing up to perform isn’t too out of the ordinary—especially with their 1997 Grammy win, which no doubt helped grease the wheels to get this concert rolling (although maybe this concert was already in the works—both the Grammy and the concert were in 1997, not entirely sure which occurred first, however).
What makes The Chieftains such a delight to listen to are the use of classical instruments and to watch each of the band members play their very best (particularly “Did You Ever Go A Courtin’ Uncle Joe,” where they all get a solo to “show off” what they each bring to the band). The entire concert, however, is a fun treat and during it you’ll get to hear the following songs:
01) Opening Medley: O’Neill’s March / Rosin Dubh / Reels And Dance
02) Changing Your Demeanour
03) Donegal Reel / Ladies Pantalette
04) Lady Dillon
05) Album Medley: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You / Mo Ghile Mear / The Rocky Road To Dublin / Reels And Dance
06) Song Of Immigration / Kerry Slides
07) Galician Overture Medley / Dueling Chanters
10) Murphy’s Hornpipe And Dance
11) Matt Molloy: A Fig For A Kiss / Mulhares Reel / Gravel Walks
13) Did You Ever Go A Courtin’ Uncle Joe
14) Give Me Your Hand / The Trip To Durrow / Flogging Reel
Overall this is a fantastic concert and one that comes Highly Recommended. Not only is it a great band, but it’s a fantastic entry to the Irish music genre if you’ve never delved into it much before.
Eagle Rock brings this 1997 concert to DVD in a standard clear Amaray case with a double sided insert and a four page booklet with images from the concert and a three page forward by John Tobler. Disc art is a simple tan splash with the band logo and concert information and menus are simple and easy to navigate. Considering the concerts age I’m not too surprised to see that it’s not as clear as more recent releases from Eagle Rock, but overall it’s a solid presentation. The audio, arriving in PCM 2.0, DD5.1 and DTS mixes, are all solid sounding but, as usual, the DTS edges out the rest.
Sadly there are no extras here, but the booklet with the intro by John Tobler is a nice crash course on the bands history and the individuals that you’re seeing on the screen. The concert is a tad short too, under an hour and a half long, but it’s still Recommended.
The Chieftains – Live at Montreux 1997 is now available on DVD.