After a 40 year hiatus the most influential Irish trad band of all time are reforming and playing their first Irish concert since 1979, in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Sunday 25th February 2024. This Belfast TradFest concert will be one of the most anticipated in living memory, featuring a who’s who of Irish music; Matt Molloy (The Chieftains), Donal Lunny (Planxty, Moving Hearts), Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill (Skara Brae), Kevin Burke (Patrick Street), Paddy Glackin (Ushers Island) & uilleann pipe supremo Paddy Keenan, coming together to perform their first public concert in 45 years as ‘The Bothy Band’. They are joined by Seán Óg Graham on guitar.
An iconic ensemble that defined the landscape of Irish folk music, they emerged in the 1970s as a musical force that transcended boundaries and left an indelible mark on the genre. During their brief five year history they blazed like a comet across the firmament of Celtic music. Coming together in October 2023 to record a documentary for Irish television, the band members-all legendary figures in Irish music- enjoyed the experience so much that they were open to invitations to consider performing live again. Decades later, the prospect of witnessing their magic once more, in Belfast, is nothing short of exhilarating.
‘a rock’n’roll band in folk clothing’ – Melody Maker
Between 1975 to 1979 the band were to release four albums all of which are regarded as classics of their type. Incendiary live performances, driven by a front line of fiddle, pipes and flute underpinned by a powerhouse rhythm section of guitar, bouzouki & clavichord cemented their reputation as perhaps the most innovative and exciting combination to play traditional music from these islands. In 2006, founder member, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill died and Donegal’s Tommy Peoples who played fiddle on the band’s first recording passed away in 2018.
The Waterfront Hall, with its acoustically pristine setting, provides the perfect backdrop for the Bothy Band’s triumphant return. Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend attendees can expect a night filled with soul-stirring melodies and songs, lively jigs & reels, and the unmistakable spirit of the Irish tradition. The reunion concert is a testament to the enduring legacy of these virtuosic talents and a rare opportunity for fans to bask in the brilliance of the most iconic of all traditional music bands. This will be one to tell the grandchildren about.
The Bothy Band’s Donal Lunny said: “”As we embark on the journey of bringing The Bothy Band together to grace the stage at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, the anticipation is both exhilarating and humbling. The prospect of reuniting with such exceptional musicians after over four decades is a testament to the enduring power of our musical connection and the timeless appeal of traditional music. Belfast holds a special place in the heart of Irish musical history, and the Waterfront Hall provides the perfect canvas for our first Irish reunion concert. The echoes of the past blend with the vibrant energy of the present as we prepare to bring The Bothy Band’s distinctive sound back to life. The city’s rich musical heritage and the enthusiastic audience at the Belfast TradFest Winter Weekend create a fitting backdrop for this momentous occasion”.
Belfast TradFest Artistic Director Dónal O’Connor said: “The Bothy Band’s influence on the landscape of Irish folk music is immeasurable, and to witness their magic after nearly half a century is a rare and extraordinary opportunity. As they reunite, we can expect a night of musical alchemy, where Belfast will resonate with the timeless sound of this iconic band, creating a moment that will be etched into the hearts of all who attend. This reunion is not merely a concert; it’s a celebration of a musical legacy reborn, and Belfast TradFest are honoured to be part of this historic event.”