Mundy and The Seamus Begley Trio

By Janine Swail

Artist: Mundy & The Seamus Begley Trio

Date / Venue: Friday February 24th, 2017 - The Tuning Fork, Auckland

As an Irish lass celebrating the anniversary of my first year in beautiful Aotearoa, there was no better way to toast my kiwi-versary than to catch Mundy and The Seamus Begley Trio at the Great South Pacific Tuning Fork.

Fair to say the eager crowd that packed the cosy Tuning Fork venue were largely Irish ex-pats keen for some tunes and songs to remind them of home. I was there with a handful of kiwi buddies who I wanted to introduce to some decent Irish music and this gig did not let me down. Mundy has been writing and playing his upbeat acoustic folk for nearly 25 years despite just entering his 40s, with a number of top-selling albums including a multi platinum - 24 Star Hotel and his recent self-titled Mundy which came out last year. Auckland was the third of nine gigs he is performing across NZ this February and into March and for Thursday’s and Friday’s performances last week he wasjoined by the Seamus Begley Trio – the finest of Irish traditional musicians, Seamus on the box, Dezi Donnelly on fiddle and Matt Griffin on guitar. As we arrived these gents were just starting and they wasted no time whipping up the crowd into a foot-tapping frenzy with their suite of jigs, reels, slides and polkas, complimented by slower airs and ballads sang in Irish that took me back to learning songs for the Scór na nÓg competitions of my youth.

After their set we were sufficiently warmed up, helped by the wine that was going down too easy and were ready to welcome Mundy on stage. Wearing his signature Stetson he launched straight into his repertoire of hits from July to Mexico as well as To you I Bestow from his very first album Jelly Legs (1996) which was featured on the best-selling soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation Romeo and Juliet. I always admire artists who seem genuinely happy to be on stage and eager to play for their audience and this likeable soul had no trouble organising us to into different chorus melodies for By Her Side and we happily chimed along in unison. Halfway through, the eager ferocity with which Mundy belted out each song resulted in a guitar string breaking. For some musicians this would have resulted in a swap over of guitar or an interruption in the set but this pro changed and re-tuned his G-string in front of us in record time, no nudity in sight!

For the last half hour the Seamus Begley Trio were welcomed back on stage and from then on most of the room were on their feet dancing and swinging each other around the front of the stage. No Mundy performance would be complete without Galway Girl, a Steve Earle penned song that was made famous by Mundy’s cover on his live album Live and Confusion. This rendition with Sharon Shannon was the biggest single in Ireland two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, was the most downloaded song of 2008 in Ireland, and has gone on to become the eighth highest selling single in Irish chart history. And as Earle himself said, ‘{Galway Girl} is the one thing I’m sure to be remembered for. I owe a lot of that to Mundy….’

The end of the night came but the party certainly didn’t feel like it was over! Mundy and the Trio re-appeared shortly after at the bar and chatted and posed for selfies – down to earth, no airs or graces, these guys have listened to their ‘mammies’ anddefinitely ‘remember where they came from’ reminding many of us there that night that home isn’t so far away after all.