ALTAN’S lead singer Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh has no idea of what to expect when the band play here but promises fans 27 years worth of music.
The Irish folk legends return to play across Australia for the first time in eight years later this month.
The band who last travelled here for a one-off gig in the Sydney Opera House in 2006 say the Australian tour will be like a new experience for them.
Speaking from her native Donegal before embarking on the Australian leg of the tour the singer and fiddle player said: “We are looking forward to going over again to see our Australian friends.
“It’s been a long time since we were there so we are really looking forward to just playing there again, we don’t know what to expect,” she said.
The band fly into Western Australia where they preform in Mandurah on February 22 and Perth the following day.
They then have gigs scheduled for Albany, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne before finishing up in Warrnambool at the Port Fairy Music Festival early next month.
Mairéad said: “If you are going that far it’s worth doing a lot of gigs to make the most of it and on the way back we go to China so that will be a different type of experience from our Australia gigs.
“It’s going to be truly wonderful I think.”
She said the band are hoping for a mix of ex-pats and Australians at their shows Down Under.
“It’s kind of strange because we do get a lot of Irish who come out to support us when we travel sometimes, but we do go to a lot of places where there are not a lot of Irish at the shows.
“A lot of people are now listening to acoustic world music and it has become very popular.
“We are not depending totally on an Irish audience but it’s always nice to hear an Irish accent in the crowd,” she said.
The band who have been together since 1987 and have established a large following in Japan, Canada, the US and across Europe but Mairéad said the touring experience has changed as they have become older.
“When we were in our 20s and 30s and there was no responsibilities, going on tour and travelling was great fun and then you come to a stage when you have children and it becomes a bit more difficult but we still enjoy it.”
She said she had given her daughter Nia the option of coming with her on the Australian leg of the tour.
“Most kids would jump at the opportunity, but she has decided to stay with friends, she has been travelling since she was a baby,” she said.
“I feel very privileged that we can travel all over the world.
“We really have enjoyed it and we are going to keep at it for as long as we do, it’s food for the soul,” the singer said.
Fans can expect a taste of the band’s music from their debut Horse with a Heart album right up to their current Gleann Nimhe recording.
“It will be a bit of everything but more from the latest album.
“We try to change it to amuse ourselves,” said the traditional musician.