In advance of his upcoming livestream performance with special guest Loah in the National Concert Hall on November 7th, legendary singer-songwriter Paul Brady discusses artistic life during Covid, what we can expect from the forthcoming NCH concert and the inspiration behind his latest track It's A Beautiful World (Now You Are Here). 

What can people expect from your upcoming National Concert Hall show?

Though I have been writing a whole bunch of new songs yet to be heard, I’ll probably stick to a cross-section of the most popular of my songs already out there with possibly the exception of the first-ever live performance of It's A Beautiful World (Now You Are Here), written and released at the start of lockdown in April. It’s my first time on a stage anywhere since December 10th last year (coincidentally also in this venue) so I think it’s best to stick to the familiar. With an empty hall, it’s not the occasion to be unduly challenging either my online audience or myself!

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Can you tell us about the inspiration behind It's A Beautiful World (Now You Are Here)? And what you hope people take from it? 

Like the way many songs of mine get written, it was an unfinished work waiting around for a couple of years for its proper moment. It had begun as an adult love song in difficult times when I started to write it with my dear friend, songwriter extraordinaire Sharon Vaughn, but we never completed it. Then with time on my hands early this year, I decided to have a look at it again and we set about finishing it. Coincidentally, just as the song came home, my good friends Philip and Nicola Flynn had their first grandchild, Luan and their unbridled joy made me immediately realise that, in spite of the awful times the world was going through, the arrival of new life was still the most exciting thing humans experience. I guess what I hope for is that the song makes people feel a bit more optimistic about what’s ahead.

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How has Covid 19 affected your creativity and artistic life? And what have you learned from it? 

Initially it left me treading water not really knowing what to do. I hated being locked in. I had nearly twenty concerts cancelled and, while that was hugely upsetting, I found my overriding feeling was ‘When will we ever see our kids and grandkids again?’ Unfortunately for us, they live abroad. Family was everything and I kind of put music and creativity on the back burner for a while. But as time progressed, I began to appreciate the freedom of not having any deadlines or career expectations of me and gradually I began to hear that little voice from inside that said ‘Let’s make some music, Paul’ and I started to go back into my studio to see what happened. Loads of stuff started coming and what was exciting was... it was stuff I hadn’t expected. So, I’ve been recording all this time and am really enjoying it. Also, I more or less finished a memoir of sorts which I’m hoping to bring out in the not too distant future. 

I have missed performing and was shocked to discover how easy it is to lose physical match fitness when you’re not onstage for a long time! But I’ve been working hard over the past weeks and I’m feeling I’m back in command and I’m hugely looking forward to the concert on Nov 7th. 

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You are going on tour next spring with Andy Irvine to celebrate the classic album Andy Irvine / Paul Brady. What is your favourite memory of its recording, and why do you think it still resonates with people after all these years? 

If it is next spring, I’ll be very pleased, though most of the movers and shakers in our business seem to think it’ll more likely be autumn 2021 before things really get back to normal. So, we’re bearing that in mind and not taking anything for granted. As for the album, it’s hard to believe it’s forty-four years since we made it. I guess one of my favourite memories is being part of making The Plains of Kildare happen. I had a lot of fun with my guitar down in the engine room on that! Mary and the Soldier seemed to make itself. Arthur McBride was a bit frustrating in that I did a take with one small word slip, in those days technically not fixable, which I thought was better than the second one that actually made the record. I guess what that shows is you can be too close to something! I’m not sure why the album still resonates. I’m probably not the person to ask. It’s not like we had a clue what we were doing! I’m just thankful that I was given the gift to be a channel, once in a while, for some good stuff from the cosmos. 

Paul Brady plays a solo livestream concert at the National Concert Hall with special guest Loah on Saturday, November 7th - find out more here.