Saturday April 18, 2004 2:00pm
It is so rare to come out of a concert shaking like a leaf with emotion. Anthony has that knack of getting to your very core, shaking it around, then leaving you laughing with joy.
This is particularly true in the intimate setting of a house concert. On CDs, you don't get the introductory back stories that lead you to a comprehensive understanding of the emotions that made a song emerge ... or the complex political events that shape the lives of the northern Irish.
His songs are fantastic, romantic, poignant. The lyrics are poetry set to music, with brilliant rhymes. They reveal a genuine feeling for modern Ireland that is not clouded by silly sentiment. His work is, in the main, gentle, not unlike that of the early Paul Simon.
In a land of songwriters this man is one most deserving of a wide audience, and by finally getting him to a stage in Huntington (his original booking over two years ago was delayed by illness), he has garnered a houseful of new fans and new friends.
His gentle humor balances the serious messages of many of his songs to provide a truly enjoyable evening of entertainment. The songs are full of wit as well as insight sad songs of childhood in the Northern Ireland of the 1970s, a journey home on all the remembered roads, a Dublin song, an Irish air smashing stuff that will make you laugh until you cry. He never fails to touch your emotional senses with an accuracy of lyrics that leave little to be imagined of the lives and places portrayed. He's brilliant an Irish treasure!
Anthony John Clarke was born in Holywood in County Down, and he faced his first audience at the age of 13 when venues were no more than parish halls. He has lived in Liverpool, England for the past 20 years or so with wife Julia and four sons.
These days Anthony John plays at folk clubs, festivals and theatres all over the UK and the west coast of Ireland. He combines his musical career with his part time duties as a music teacher. As a singer/songwriter, Anthony entertains his audience with a mixture of humor, sensitivity and wit. His songs are an eclectic mix of serious social comment (The Broken Years, Peaceline Revisited, about the Troubles in Ireland, and Gloria, the story of a seller of Liverpool's Big Issue, the magazine sold by the homeless to support them when the dole won't do). Humor also abounds in his songs ... such as the hilarious Thursday Night is only Karaoke. He has opened for many bigger name artists, including Seane Keane and Frances Black.
We heard songs from his new CD Just Bring Yourself, as he polished off his 2004 USA tour with this very special House Concert. We expect to see him back soon when he’ll sing another Dublin song and play another Irish air ...