Two veterans of Irish music are into their fifth decade of making music together – and show no signs of slowing down.
Mick Foster and Tony Allen – better known as Foster & Allen – may both be well into their 60s, but are still loving recording and performing.
The duo – who first performed together in 1975 – have just released a new single, Mrs Brown’s Boys, a tribute to the hit BBC Irish comedy, and kick off a 22-date Celebration tour of England and Wales tonight in Hampshire.
And 65-year-old Tony – the younger of the pair as Mick celebrates his 70th birthday next year –admits they can’t wait to get out there performing.
“We are looking forward to it,” he says.
“We love touring – and 41 years after we started we’re still doing it.”
And despite his long years in the industry, Tony says he still loves everything about it, from writing and recording to the press duties and performing.
“There’s something about the music industry,” he says. “I do love it.
The story of Foster & Allen began in the Seventies when the pair were playing in country music bands around Ireland.
In 1975 they got together a small group and came over to the UK to play Irish music venues on a short tour.
Mick & Tony had the idea of working together as a duo, playing “easy listening” music with a touch of traditional Irish instrumentals.
When the tour finished they decided to let the band return to Ireland, while they stayed behind to try out the duo on the public.
The reaction was favourable and Foster & Allen was formed.
And now, nearly 40 UK studio albums and 22 million album and video sales later, they are still going strong.
And Tony admits the pair never dreamed of such success.
“All we had thought back then was we could make a living out of it,” he says.
“It’s wonderful we can still do that.”
The latest single, Mrs Brown’s Boys, came after the pair saw how big the show – created by and starring fellow Irish performer Brendan O’Carroll – was around the world.
“It was in New Zealand,” says Tony,” that we realised it was big everywhere.
“We came back and I was talking to someone about it and they said we should write a song about it, as it has such a great story.”
“We recorded it and it’s got a huge reaction.
“We’ve just done 32 radio station interviews and they all loved it and are playing it.”
For now though, all thoughts are on the tour, which arrives in South Yorkshire next week.
Tony says: “There’ll be five of us on stage – us, our keyboard player Moyra Fraser, she sings some tracks on her own as well, our bass player Ollie Kennedy, he’s been with us more than 30 years, and guitarist Bryan O’Donnell,
“There’ll be just more than two hours of Foster & Allen songs, old and new.
“We have to do all the hits that people expect.
“The audience are all Foster & Allen fans, people who have known us for years – it’s amazing the people who come back. They’ve become part of our family – our shows are like going to visit your cousin who you haven’t seen for a while. Our concerts are like a big family reunion.”
n Foster & Allen bring their Celebration tour to The Civic Theatre, Rotherham, on Friday, November 4. For tickets, priced from £20, visit www.rotherhamtheatres.co.uk