‘Ours has been an incredible experience’

Ireland's legendary Wolfe Tones.
Ireland's legendary Wolfe Tones.

After almost five decades of touring the world, Irish legends The Wolfe Tones are still on the road and will stop off in Derry’s Millennium Forum for a special Easter show on April 23.

Their ‘Spirit of the Nation’ show will no doubt have audiences enthralled, and the ‘Derry Journal’ caught up with Wolfe Tone’s front man and one of Ireland’s most prolific songwriters, Brian Warfield, to discuss the enduring popularity of this timeless band.

Having just returned from an exhausting tour which included the US, Australia and New Zealand, Brian Warfield is understandably delighted to take a well-earned break.

“In two years’ time we will have been on the road for 50 years,” Mr Warfield reveals. “It’s been a long and winding road, but it has been fantastic so far.

“We have been up to our eyes in it since January. We had a tour after Christmas which took us first to Lanzarote, then to America for 26 days, then onto Australia, where we played Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and then we flew on to New Zealand and from there we went to Dubai! We’ve just returned on Sunday past and I am glad to be home.”

Mr Warfield admits that The Wolfe Tones are indeed fortunate to have enjoyed such a prolific and varied career.

“I’ve been with the Wolfe Tones since the very beginning, having started playing music at the age of 14. And nowadays I doubt there is a country in the world that doesn’t have a Wolfe Tones fan base!

“On our mailing list alone there are over 25,000 people and wherever we go, we have a wonderful community throughout the world,” he says.

“The best part of it all is actually being on stage, while the worst part, of course, is the travelling! I daresay everyone in show business would tell you the same, that the travelling is the least enjoyable part of the job. After this latest tour, I couldn’t wait to get into my own bed after seven weeks.”

So what does the future hold for Ireland’s most famous folk group?

“It’s hard to say what the future holds for The Wolfe Tones,” Mr Warfield says thoughtfully.

“We are all in our 60s now, and so we are living year to year and the future is untold I’m afraid. As long as our health holds out and we are still able to enjoy what we do, then we’ll go on doing what we do best!

“Ours has been an incredible experience and we have had an amazing reception across the world over the years.

“We’ve played many major venues too, in Sydney just past, we played to a crowd of 2,500, and in Melbourne we played to a crowd of 3,000, but I think the most people we ever played to was in Cork during the 1980s, where we played to crowds of around 35,000 every year! It wasn’t particularly daunting, in actual fact, it was no different playing to ten people or 10,000!”

The band are looking forward to playing Derry, having enjoyed a strong bond with the city and its inhabitants since the 1960s.

“We have a long, long connection with Derry stretching back to the 1960s,” Mr Warfield explains. “In fact, Derry was one of the first places we travelled to play when we started out.

“We were still in our teens and very enthusiastic and it was all terribly exciting to travel and get paid to play music. It was great to have the opportunity to see new parts of Ireland, and in the years since we have seen the world.”

So what can audiences expect from the Forum show later this month?

“At our Easter show, the audience can expect all the usual songs they might find at our gigs, as well as a special tribute to 1916, as it will be Easter when we come to Derry,” he reveals.

The Wolfe Tones will appear at the Millennium Forum on Easter Saturday, April 23, 8pm.

Tickets, £17.50/19.50, can be purchased by calling the Forum Box Office on: 71. 264455 or online via: www.millenniumforum.co.uk.