Apparently inspired by a documentary on the band aired on Irish television, the four original members of Planxty, Andy Irvine (vocals, mandolin, bouzouki), Donal Lunny (bouzouki, guitar, bodhran, vocals), Christy Moore (vocals, guitar, bodhran, keyboards), and Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, tinwhistle), decided to rejoin for a few concerts, including this one captured on film.

The excitement of the occasion is palpable from the first frames. Although one might argue that the band remains known primarily for its arrangements of songs, the concert opens with an instrumental number. Over the gentle interplay of Lunny's bouzouki and Irvine's mandolin, O'Flynn's ever so clear and pure whistle playing is heard on a nicely paced setting of Sean Ryan's "The Glens of Aherlow." Soon, though, Lunny and Irvine strike a lick which is burned into the memory of all Planxty fans, and as O'Flynn switches over to the pipes and launches into "The Pullet," the audience gasps audibly, later cheering wildly when the medley of reels ends. This is one of many such moments which make this DVD so special, perhaps more so for those of us who "grew up" in Irish music with Planxty (guilty...).

Throughout, the filming and editing are top-notch, cleverly giving the viewer not just a sense of being right there, but almost of being one of the band members. There are great reaction shots of the musicians, some looks of complicity when something doesn't go quite right, but mostly band members glowing with the joy of the moment--and one cannot help being happy with them. As Irvine sings "The West Coast of Clare" and comes to the line "I wish I could go back, And be with you again," there's a touching shot of Christy Moore mouthing along the words, gazing down and sweating under the stage lights--and perhaps shedding a tear as well? Moore himself is in great form and delivers wonderful renditions of his best known songs from the early days of the band, "As I Roved Out," "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," complete with the famous transition into "Give Me Your Hand," and the later "Little Musgrave" and "Good Ship Kangaroo." Irvine, Lunny and O'Flynn put on the fireworks with a dazzling "The Blacksmith" and its instrumental postlogue in quasi-eastern rhythms.

Since this is a DVD, we also get bonus material, several extra numbers, including a lovely rendition of "Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen" by O'Flynn on whistle and Lunny on guitar, extended interviews of each musician (Irvine dissecting his arrangement of "The Blacksmith" is especially fascinating), and a "Planxty Reformed" documentary, possibly one low point of the whole production. Although it contains wonderful snippets of old footage of the band, the multiplication of definitive pronouncements on the band by Irish personalities begins to sound quite hollow, and I must admit it mostly made me want to see the Leagues O'Toole documentary which brought about the reunion. Too bad that wasn't included. Still, what a gift this is.

Rating: **** 1/2

Price: $34.99   Recommended
Our Catalogue 
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1. The Starting Gate
2. The Good Ship Kangaroo
3. Little Musgrave
4. The Clare Jig
5. As Andy Roved Out
6. Si Bheag Si Mhor
7. As Christy Roved Out
8. The Dark Slender Boy
9. Arthur McBride
10. The Blacksmith
11. The Kildareman's Fancy
12. The Cliffs of Dooneen
13. True Love Knows no Season
14. The West Coast of Clare
15. Raggle Taggle Gypsy
16. My Heart is Tonight in Ireland
17. Only our Rivers Run Free
18. O'Dwyer of the Glen
See also:
  Book - The Humours
           of Planxty