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The Fureys and Davey Arthur
The Fureys and Davey Arthur

Review: The Fureys and Davey Arthur, Theatre Royal, Margate, Saturday, May 19

by Keith Hunt

Although they have played for Prime Ministers and even a Pope, the Fureys and Davey Arthur give the impression they are just as much at home playing for us lesser mortals at small theatres and bars.

It's hard to imagine how jokes of an Irish nature would have gone down with Pope John Paul, but corny and dog-eared as some were they elicited a chuckle or two from an ardent audience on a recent return visit to Margate's Theatre Royal.

After a quick yarn from Eddie Furey about Paddy fishing in a ditch, the five-strong band launched into a rousing rendition of The Leaving of Nancy and set the tone for a unique sound honed over more than 30 years.

Inevitably, the line-up has changed since the group was formed in the late 1970s. George and Paul Furey and Davey originally hooked up with Eddie and Finbar to cast the die for a long and lauded career.

Tragedy struck when Paul died in 2002 and then Finbar left in 1996. George, Eddie and Davey have forged on much to the delight of audiences all over the world.

A Fureys concert is essentially a mix of emotions. One moment they have you clapping and tapping your feet to Irish reels, featuring Arthur's nimble banjo skills.

The next it is a moving tribute to Eddie and George's father, mother and brother Paul with Old Man and This One's For you.

The group also knows how to chip away at the futility of war with Gallipoli about a teenager sent to die in World War I and the anti-war anthem and thought-provoking The Green Fields of France.

There followed a classic singalong with Goodnight, Irene, written in 1933 by Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, and always a favourite after a few drinks have been imbibed.

No Fureys performance would be complete without my favourite, When You Were Sweet Sixteen, featuring Eddie's rich voice and Davey Arthur's plaintive banjo plinking away, and Ralph McTell's mournful song about emigration From Clare to Here.

A couple of encores completed the craic.

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