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Best 50 Irish Live Albums: No Bootlegs Allowed! August 2, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

A very welcome guest post from Jason O’Toole following on from his ‘Best 50 Irish Albums’ list…

I was pretty relieved there wasn’t an online meltdown when I my put head above the parapet recently, here on CLR, with my ‘Best 50 Irish Albums’ list.

The reaction was actually pretty positive, in fairness, with the general consensus seeming to be that it was a decent enough list – even if I’d omitted some worthy acts, either accidentally or on purpose.

I’m still kicking myself with how I somehow neglected ex- Into Paradise member David Long and his superb album In Headphones. Ditto Joe Chester’s masterpiece She Darks Me. (Incidentally, The ex- Waterboy’s new double album Jupiter’s Wife is brilliant, too.) I might’ve tried to squeeze Nina Hynes and The Brilliant Trees into the top 50, too, if given a second stab at it. I could go on…

it was also nice to see the CLR post get the nod of approval from the likes of Whipping Boy, Aslan, The Radiators from Space, A Lazarus Soul, Power Of Dreams, and Pugwash amongst others, who either tweeted or posted about it on their FB pages – which, in turn, got their fans talking about the list. While some acts also reached out to me personally via email or WhatsApp too, just to say they got a kick out of seeing themselves included in it, which was a nice touch. Thanks guys and gals.

Leaving aside those acts excluded, the biggest moan seemed to be that I’d ignored popular trad or live albums (on purpose, I should stress). Some posters on FB, who hadn’t bothered their arse reading the criteria set out in the intro, and just skipped to the list itself, were horrified to see that Aslan’s Made in Dublin and Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous were nowhere to be found.

This complaint – a legitimate one too, in some ways, in fairness – inspired me to trawl through my record collection and YouTube to see if I could compile a top ’50 Irish Live Albums’ list derived from only official releases… and not bootlegs (please forgive me if I accidentally included a bootleg here) .

I also decided against selecting albums that only received a limited release via the likes of U2’s fanclub or ‘download only’ releases on iTunes. Otherwise I’d be tempted to mention U2’s gig at The Point. I also really wanted to include The Pogues with Joe Strummer – Live in London (1991), but I think it’s either a limited edition, a bootleg-ish type of thing – or perhaps both. Besides, the sound wasn’t great.

I would’ve loved nothing more than to name check An Emotional Fish too, but their only live releases were an EP and compilation promo ‘Live Bait (1991) with six live tracks, which rules them out. But Jerry Fish makes an appearance. So, all good.

I’d like to point out the bleedin’ obvious here: Joe Dolan had a great voice, but, I, unfortunately, couldn’t find any official live album of his that’s worthy of inclusion (perhaps I didn’t look hard enough). And I decided to stir clear of the Showband era here, too.

I reckon if this piece was being published in a traditional print publication, a good headline would be this: ‘No Bootlegs Allowed!’

I hope everybody takes this list in the spirit it was intended – to get fans of Irish music chatting and debating amongst themselves about what’s their personal favourites… and, more importantly, perhaps taking out some of these long-players and blow off the cobwebs and give them a good old spin again.

50: Kerbdog – Congregation (2014)

49: Skid Row – Alive and Kickin’ (1976)

48: The Saw Doctors – Live in Galway (2004)

47: The 4 of Us – Live At Vicar St (2009)

46: Cactus World News – Live: Spin Concert Series (1986)

45: That Petrol Emotion – Final Flame, 1994 (2000)

44: Hot House Flowers – Live (1999)

43: Gary Moore – Live at the Marquee (1980)

42: Jerry Fish – Live at The Spiegeltent (2004)

41: The Divine Comedy – Live at Somerset House (2011)

40: The Chieftains – An Irish Evening (1992)

39: Pugwash – Live in Dublin, 2011 (2016)

38: Ash – Live at the Wireless (1997)

37: Sinead O’Connor – Live at The Sugar Club (2008)

36: Therapy? – Live at Union Chapel (2017)

35: Christy Moore – Live In Dublin (1978)

34: Mundy – Live & Confusion (2006)

33 Lisa Hannigan – Live in Dublin (2019)

32: My Bloody Valentine – Man You Love to Hate (1985)

31: Andy Irvine – The 70th Birthday Concert at Vicar St (2012)

30: Gemma Hayes – Night & Day (2014)

29: Kila – Live in Vicar St. (2000)

28: Damien Rice – Live at Fingerprints (2007)

27: The Cranberries – Bualadh Bos (2009)

26: The Stunning – Tightrope (1993)

25: Van Morrison – The Skiffle Sessions – Live in Belfast (1998)

24: The Virgin Prunes – The Hidden Lie (1987)

23: Paul Brady – The Missing Liberty Tapes, 1978 (2002)

22: Horslips –The Belfast Gig (1980)

21: The Blades Live from The Olympia (2015)

20: A House – Live in Concert, 90-92 (1998)

19 The Frames – Set List (2003)

18: The Chieftains – The Chieftains in China (1985)

17: Clannad – Clannad in Concert (1979)

16: Mick Flannery – Alive – Cork Opera House 2019 (2020)

15: Damien Dempsey – Live at the Olympia (2018)

14: Planxty – Live at Vicar Street (2004)

13: The Pogues in Paris: 30th Anniversary Concert at The Olympia (2012)

12: The Dubliners – Live (1974)

11: The Gloaming – Live at the NCH (2018)

10: Stiff Little Fingers – Broken Fingers/ Live in Aberdeen (1979)

9: The Radiators from Space – Alive Alive-O, 1978 (1996)

8: Rory Gallagher – Live ‘74

7: Moving Hearts – Live Hearts (1986)

6: Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous (1978)

5: U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky (1983)

4: Aslan – Made in Dublin (1999)

3 The Waterboys – Karma to Burn (2005)

2: Christy Moore – Live at The Point (1994)

1: Van Morrison – It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1974)


1. Phil - August 2, 2020

A worthy number one. Slightly surprised by #45, to be honest – I saw TPE once and, while I don’t doubt they were playing live, aurally it could have been a playthrough of the album. I guess it was an off night.

the biggest moan seemed to be that I’d ignored popular trad or live albums

So you’ll be doing the diddly tunes next week? (Everyone’s a critic!)


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2020

That’s always a puzzle to me. How bands don’t deviate live from tracks. In fairness saw the Undertones a number of times in their latest iterations and they too are spot on (which oddly is a good thing!).


2. 6to5against - August 2, 2020

Love to see the Belfast Gigs there. I was so excited when I first heard it – which was my introduction to Horslips.
Proper live album too. No remastering and/re-recording to ‘fix’ things.


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2020

It’s a classic album agreed. Real energy and also a sort of sharper attitude. Get the feeling someone or two in the camp had been listening to at least some of the harder edged new wave/punk stuff and decided no harm to connect to that.

Liked by 1 person

3. gypsybhoy69 - August 8, 2020

An acknowledgment for The Brilliant Trees, my work here is done! 😉

Liked by 1 person

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