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Kultur presents
Wolfe Tones: At Their Very Best (2004)

"God save Ireland, said the heroes
God save Ireland, said they all
Whether on the scaffold high
Or the battlefield we die
Oh, what matter when for Ireland dear we fall"

- lyrics from God Save Ireland

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 11, 2005

Stars: Brian Warfield, Noel Nagle, Tommy Byrne
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:15m:41s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 032031315594
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B A-B+B F

DVD Review

Kultur is spreading the gospel of The Wolfe Tonesówith a 40+ year career spent crooning sing-a-long Irish folk songs and new material to an army of teeming massesóto the rest of the world. With the release of this 175-minute concert disc, recorded in 2004 at The National Stadium in Dublin, the trio of Bian Warfield (vocals, guitar, banjo), Noel Nagle (vocals, guitar, tin whistle) and Tommy Byrne (vocals, guitar) take their "if it ain't broke don't fix it" brand of traditional Irish folk music before a boisterous crowd who seem to know every word of every song as well or better than the band.

This is the kind of music best enjoyed with a large group and a steady stream of Guinness, because whether it's old or new the songs beg to be sung along with, and here the audience obliges. The band (along with a pair of additional backing musicians) don't have much of a stage show other than to stand in a line across the front of the stage sharing lead vocal duties on nearly every song. There's an infectiously rousing, raise-your-glass flow to each song, and by the time each one ends it feels somehow familiar.

Camera work alternates casually between the band and the crowd, occasionally interspersing some old drawings of Irish history used to punctuate a particular song; about as flashy as things get is the use of multiple split screens periodically. The only real problem with the way this was put together is that in between a few tracks there are brief interview segments with Warfield, Nagle or Byrne, something that sort of temporarily stalls the momentum of the live performance.

But that's a small indiscretion, because there's a long set of music here, with 37 songs (well, there are a couple of repeats in all of that), a dash of Irish history and a level of crowd involvement that makes a Wolfe Tones show look like a lot of fun.

Set List:

God Save Ireland
Give Me Your Hand
Let The People Sing
Boys Of The Old Brigade
In Belfast
You'll Never Beat The Irish
Kevin Barry
Janey Mac I'm Nearly 40
The Streets of New York
The Helicopter Song
Slieve Na Mban
The Merry Ploughboy
We Are The Irish
Celtic Symphony
Broken Dreams
Come Out Ye Black & Tans
Boston Rose
Paddle Your Own Canoe
Thank God For America
Sean South Of Garyowen
The Broad Black Brimmer
Big Strong Man
We're On The One Road
Joe McDonnell
Songs Of Liberty
Rock On Rockall
The Foggy Dew
James Connolly
Hot Asphalt
Grace
You'll Never Beat The Irish
Irish Eyes Are Smiling
The Shores Of Botany Bay
Some Say The Devil Is Dead
A Nation Once Again
Celtic Symphony
Amhrain Na Bhfiann


Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Kultur has issued this title in a sharp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with strong detail throughout. Fleshtones of the musicians have a natural, lifelike tone (crowd shots fluctuate somewhat), and the modest stage lighting never sports any bloom or smearing.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio side is in 2.0 surround, but don't let that be of any major concern. Vocal clarity is excellent, and while there aren't any moments of wall-rattling bass to contend with for music like this, the presentation is pleasing, coming close to recreating that crowded pub/sing-a-long feel.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 37 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 37 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras, except for an insert with the set list. The disc is cut into 37 chapters, which works out to 1 per song.

Extras Grade: F

 

Final Comments

In some weird way, Irish folk music is kind of like the forerunner of karaoke, though instead of one voice there are many singing together. The Wolfe Tones, with a 40-year history of blending traditional and original songs, would seem to have it down to an art form, barreling through 37 tunes that had the crowd singing along with from the first word.

Recommended.

 


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