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Folk column: the beat goes on
Moving Hearts were of the most provocative trad groups to emerge from Ireland, with songs that touched on fraught issues such as the northern troubles. Now they’re back for a much-anticipated reunion show. But will the band stay together in the long term?
Greg McAteer, 16 Jan 2007
The best news I’ve heard in a long time came my way just before Christmas from the many headed-monster that was Moving Hearts. Although there have been a handful of live appearances since they officially hung up their boot in 1985, there has been nothing for years now to indicate that there was any hope of the band getting back together on a full-time basis.
Originally formed by Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Keith Donald, Declan Sinnott, Davy Spillane, Eoghan O’Neill and Brian Calnan the band was unique on a number of fronts. Most significantly, they decided to operate as a collective with the seven members of the band and the three crew all benefiting equally.
When Brian Calnan vacated the drumstool, for instance, Matt Kelleghan from the road crew simply stepped into his place. Equally unusual was the band’s outspoken political stance. In an Ireland still reeling from the death of 10 Republican hunger strikers and where Section 31 of the broadcasting act gagged any attempt to bring Sinn Fein into a political dialogue, the band openly confronted these and a host of other political issues.
When Christy Moore decided to move on, an equally politicized Mick Hanly took over the vocal duties. Described by Chris Rea as “a sort of Celtic Little Feat,” Moving Hearts also carried a hint of punk rock swagger in the vein of Sandinista! era Clash, especially when you saw them live.
When Mick Hanly also departed the band carried on as a largely instrumental undertaking, although Flo McSweeney did supply vocals for a time. Their defining moment (on record at least) for many remains The Storm, for which I can’t resist wheeling out the old rock cliché ‘blistering’.
The band’s two Vicar Street dates, on February 8 and 9 feature The Storm line-up of Donal Lunny, Keith Donald, Eoghan O’Neill, Davy Spillane, Matt Kelleghan, Anto Drennan, Noel Eccles and Graham Henderson. With no obvious vocalist on board it’s doubtful, therefore, if any of the Christy era shout-alongs will get an airing although, given the amount of friends these guys have, a few guest appearances wouldn’t be out of the question either.