On Easter Monday London’s futuristic Barbican Centre played host to one of folk music’s great survivors. Christy Moore accompanied by long term collaborator Declan Sinnott played to a full house in a venue more used to hosting opera singers and orchestras. Armed only with a couple of guitars each and the occasional beat of the bodhran the duo energetically ploughed their way through the back catalogue of old favourites. There was even a bit of a capella thrown in for good measure.
A massive cheer went up as a short, beefy bald-headed stocky figure came on stage. Come to think of it, a physique not unlike a certain other veteran musician who also has a tendency to be grumpy and has been known in the past to be fond of the bottle. No, unfortunately Van the Man wasn’t there, but he did get a mention in Lisdoonvarna, the song everyone had been waiting for all night. The crowd was also treated to impromptu rendition of Belle of Belfast City the song made famous by Van and the Chieftains in the middle of Lisdoonvarna.
Unlike Christy, Van isn’t really one for interactive banter with the audience. When I saw him live at Belfast’s Botanic Gardens back in 1998 he put on a reasonably decent show – having come on after Bob Dylan you’d have to make the effort - but there was no Brown-eyed Girl, Gloria or Bright side of the Road. I felt like asking for a refund.
Christy, on the other hand didn’t disappoint. Urging the audience to shout out requests, only to follow with a different song went down a treat. The proceedings had appropriately enough kicked off with Missing You, a lament for the down-and-out economic migrant in London. The melancholy theme continued with North and South of the River and City of Chicago, before they gave way to the more light-hearted comic songs like Don’t forget your shovel and the inimitable Lisdoonvarna. And they managed to fit Nancy Spain in somewhere along the line.
In my review of the Pogues gig back in December (see archive) before the Dreaming Armadillo had the massive readership that it now enjoys (LOL!), I expressed disappointment at their failure to play A Pair of Brown Eyes. Christy Moore must have been reading this as he obliged with his own fitting cover version!
It’s no big secret that Moore, in political terms leans very much towards the left. This didn’t go unnoticed in the songs. There was his famous version of Ewan McColl’s Compañeros paying tribute to Che Guevara and the Cuban revolutionaries, Viva La Quinta Brigada, the anti-fascist rant on the Spanish Civil War plus a few subtle criticisms of US foreign policy. Thankfully, however this was all contained within the songs and he didn’t revert to any Bono-style preaching, preferring to play for laughs between each number.
Predictably, enough Ride On featured as the finale after the audience was milked for all it was worth to call for an encore. With the entire crowd singing harmoniously in unison it was certainly one to remember.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Posted by CW at 6:43 PM