Reunited and it feels so good - Commitments ready to make soulful return

 

ALMOST 20 years after the combined talents of Andrew Strong, Glen Hansard, Angeline Ball and Bronagh Gallagher brought soul to the Irish music and film public, the original cast of The Commitmentshas reformed and will embark on a limited run of concerts next year.

The film, UK director Alan Parker’s 1991 adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s book of the same name, chronicles the ambitious exploits of an eclectic band of young Dublin northsiders as they try to make it by becoming the world’s hardest working band.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, singer Andrew Strong, who was 16 when he was cast in the film, said: “People are still talking about this movie 20 years later. We want to put on a great show so people are talking about it for another 20 years.”

Powerful renditions of classics such as Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally, Al Green’s Take me to the Riverand Pickett’s In the Midnight Hourhelped propel the film’s musicians to stardom and the soundtrack went on to sell an estimated 12 million copies around the world.

The film’s popularity has not waned over the years and most recently attracted some 10,000 Facebook users who lent their support to a campaign canvassing the band to play a concert in celebration of next year’s 20th anniversary of the original release.

Angeline Ball, who played backing vocalist Imelda Quirke in the film, said: “We thought we were making a small little film with good music in it. We all worked extremely hard but we never thought it would be as big as it has become. It’s almost like a cult now.”

Any fears that the raucous joyful sound exemplified in The Commitmentshas been lost can be dispelled. The Commitments played a fiery two-song set and their rendition of Treat Her Rightand Mustang Sallysounded as lively as it did way back in 1991.

The 10-strong cast is hoping to raise more than €30,000 for charity and a donation will be made to the Irish Cancer Society for every ticket sold.

Actor and singer Bronagh Gallagher (backing vocalist Bernie McGloughlin) alluded to the spirit evident in the film, which was released as Ireland emerged from a long period of deep economic malaise.

“What we want to offer is a sense of positivity,” she said. “We can’t do anything about the past but we can do something about the future.”

The reunited group will perform hits from the film at four venues nationwide in Castlebar, Killarney, Belfast and Dublin next March.

Oscar-winner Glen Hansard (guitarist Outspan Foster) who began his musical career as a busker in Dublin, said he was “happy to be the guitar player again”.

“We’ve all grown up and we’ve all gone off and done our own thing and it’s great to come back and to say – you know what? – this is worth celebrating! And, it’s something that was a really good thing in our lives.”

Tickets go on sale next Friday, October 15th.