Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Music : Paul Brady Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

AN EVENING WITH PAUL BRADY

Friday May 14 Athenaeum Theatre - Melbourne 2004


Saturday May 15 Everest Theatre - Seymour Theatre Centre, Sydney

My Andy Irvine-Paul Brady vinyl dates back to the mid 70s. It remains one of my most treasured records. Although it is a quintessentially traditional music album, it's no old-style, sentimental compilation.

The strength of Brady is that he could team up with Irvine to produce the most beautiful music and whimsical ballads - Plains of Kildare - and the most beguiling love songs - The Streets of Derry - then suddenly bob up doing rock anthems like Steel Claw and Hard Station.

Paul Brady

 

According to the publicity release, 'Paul Brady is one of Ireland's most highly regarded and successful artists, a singer songwriter with a career stretching back more than three decades and a catalogue of songs that have touched the hearts and minds of several generations of the Irish people at home and abroad. Paul Brady continues to push the boundaries not only of his own talent but of Irish contemporary music in the new millennium.' This is one time when the publicist is right.

Devotees know Tina Turner made Steel Claw famous, and celebrity singers everywhere gush over his beautifully crafted, power laden lyrics. They also know that his Helpless Heart makes grown men cry. Brady's music is all the more powerful because he has a profound eye for the shortcomings of the violence and the passion that has wracked Irish life. Jingoistic nationalists have no place in his music. Nor do racists and bigots.

His rattling refrain 'you're nothing but a bunch of murderers' - a damnation of those English racists who once belittled Irishmen abroad - is as powerful as any chorus framed by the political minstrels. It isn't just Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Billy Bragg who beat a rebel heart or can find a rebel chorus. Rather than strike them with a hammer or a burst of dogma Brady gently tilts a mirror before the Pharisees.

If Brady's Homes of Donegal isn't a cure for the alienation of modernity I don't know what is. I'm going home to play it right now..........

Brady, with the greatest guitarist of them all, the late Rory Gallagher (1983).

 

 

THURSDAY 13 MAY - I JUST SPOKE TO PAUL BRADY

WHAT A LOVELY MAN

Paul Brady comes to the Athenaeum

 

Although Paul Brady isn't a household name in Australia, he's adored in Ireland and the United States. In 2001 he performed 23 consecutive sell-out concerts at Vicar Street, Dublin's best live music club. He isn't however the stereo-typical Irish balladeer, and he doesn't sing songs about the IRA or wear a political heart on his sleeve.

He was kind enough to talk about his work with me on Thursday morning 13 May 2004. Brady, who performs in Melbourne at the Athenaeum on Friday night, was born in Northern Ireland. Despite coming from one of the great political battle grounds he says he's 'not a political animal', has 'little faith in politics' and has met the very famous Gerry Adams only once. 'I met him backstage after a Riverdance performance. I don't think he knows who I am,' he says, with no apparent rancour.

When IRA volunteer Bobby Sands was on his hunger strike in the early 80s Brady took a bold stand. He chose not to perform at the rallies that inflamed Irish politics. At subsequent gigs he was verbally and physically abused. It prompted a song The Island (1985) - a confronting, yet almost lyrical dirge as only Paul Brady could produce - that challenged the orthodoxy.

They're raising banners over by the markets
Whitewashing slogans on the shipyard walls
Witchdoctors praying for a mighty showdown
No way our holy flag is gonna fall
Up here we sacrifice our children
To feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday
And teach them dying will lead us into glory...

Repeat chorus
Now I know us plain folks don't see all the story
And I know this peace and love's just copping out
And I guess these young boys dying in the ditches
Is just what being free is all about
And how this twisted wreckage down on main street
Will bring us all together in the end
As we go marching down the road to freedom...freedom

If that wasn't political enough, four years earlier he'd delivered a broadside to the old enemy with a song titled Nothing but the Same Old Story, that was based on his experiences as an Irishman working in London. Although he says he's not a political animal, the song is a biting satire of British attitudes to the Irish. As the words confirm, an anti-colonialist anthem is not beyond him:


I'm sick of watching them break up - Every time some bird brain puts us down
Making jokes on the radio -Guess it helps them all drown out the sound
Of the crumbling foundations -Any fool can see the writing on the wall- But they just don't believe that it's happening.
There's a crowd says I'm alright - Say they like my turn of phrase
Take me round to their parties - Like some dressed up monkey in a cage.
And I play my accordion Oh! - But when the wine seeps through the facade - It's nothing but the same old story - Nothing but the same old story
You can see that you're nothing but a murder - In their eyes, we're nothing but a bunch of murderers

After making his name in the traditional scene more than thirty years ago he suddenly went rock and roll. The result was that songs such as Steel Claw and Paradise is Here were recorded by Tina Turner, and luminaries such as Bonnie Raitt, Art Garfunkel, Santana, Phil Collins, Cher and Joe Cocker grabbed his songs and now sing his praises. Married to Mary with a daughter Sarah, twenty-six, and a son Colm, Paul Brady is refreshingly honest about his work. That he was quick to say he was still married and that his wife is at university doing Women's Studies makes sense once you talk with him.

I've met some prima donnas in my time. He isn't one of them. Sincere and engaging, Paul Brady produces the most beautiful music. If you want to put a poetic spark in your life or fall in love with some words and music I'd suggest you head for the Athenaeum. Maybe he'll dedicate that Irish anti war classic from the mists of time, Arthur McBride, to the current war in Iraq, a war he says 'makes no sense.'

Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

Phil Cleary - May 2004

A CD and DVD, containing twelve of the standout songs from the series are available in Australia. The Paul Brady Songbook CD is on Little Big Music, distribution MRA Entertainment Group and the DVD is through Shock Distribution.
www.paulbrady.com

www.littlebigmusic.com


www.CHUGGENTERTAINMENT.COM


 

 


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