The concert on Friday at the Royal Festival Hall was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have ever had. Partly because of the company I was with and partly because Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott were simply great.. Here is what happened.
I got to
station and there was The Festival Hall right next door which was handy I
thought. A quick stroll across the bridge and I found my hotel on the Waterloo Strand. Then I met up with my friends Jacky and Bill and
their daughter Sarah. It was especially nice to see Sarah because i hadn't seen
her since Glasto 97. After an hour we were joined by my nephew Dominic. It was
great to see Dominic again as well. We chilled out for a couple of hours and
then took a leisurely walk back over the river and found a nice restaurant by
the Southbank and had some nice food. Then we walked to the Festival Hall and
sat outside by the river until it was show time and we took our seats.
Christy and Declan were joined by young Jimmy Higgins who I had never seen before who really added to the sound on a variety of percussion instruments. The first song was Biko Drum probably chosen as Christy's tribute to Nelson Mandela. This got warm applause and Christy said, " Thank you very much, I can tell you are all full of hot cross buns". This was followed by Natives which was really moving. One thing I really like about Christy is that he believes in singing every word really clearly so even if someone hasn't heard a song before they can understand what he is saying. Some singers mumble the words and you don't know what they are banging on about. The next song was City Of
from the Ride On album which is where I first discovered Christy's music
thirty years ago. Another great song was Smoke And Strong Whisky written
by Larry Page. Black Is The Colour was wonderful. It was written by
Hamish Imlach. Declan picked out some beautiful notes and the audience joined
in. The hilarious Delirium Tremens followed and then A Pair Of Brown
Eyes by the great Shane McGowan. Some eejit near the front kept heckling
Christy and he said, "If you interrupt me again I’ll have you out and you
can have your money back". It must be really annoying for a performer when
they are concentrating and doing their best for the audience and somebody keeps
distracting them. Anyway, there were no further interruptions so it did the
Magdalene Laundries followed which is a really sad song. I always thought that the Magdalene Laundries were only a shameful part of Irish history but the first one opened in England and they actually spread all over the world. Another sad song followed They Never Came Home which is about the tragedy at the Stardust night club in
in which 48 young
people died but it did actually remind me of the South Korean ferry disaster of
a few days ago. I can't think of another singer who cares more passionately
about social issues than Christy. The story of Farmer Michael Hayes was
next. It’s one of the great songs on the Folk Tale album. The beautiful
ballad written by Barney Rush Nancy Spain was next which really pleased
this audience. Christy has recorded several songs written by Jimmy McCarthy and
Jimmy's song Missing You was next. Then a song I was certain would be
sung tonight Sweet Thames Flow Softly written by the great Ewan MacColl.
Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? was especially poignant with the
25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster being last week. Christy's great
song about the Irish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War Viva La Quince
Brigada followed which is another great song from the Ride On album.
Declan then sang one of his own songs which was a great country blues type song
but I’m afraid I don't know what it is called. Sorry Declan, I hope one of the
experts will tell me.( Colm aged 9 from Kerry tells me it was called Blood Rushes Through My Veins) Dublin
Christy's great peace song North And South Of The River followed and I thought it was particularly apt as it was Good Friday and the 16th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The Well Below The Valley is a great song that Christy's band Planxty recorded in 1973 and Christy said that he learned the song from a singer from the travelling community called John Reilly. The Voyage is one of Christy's most popular songs and it was written by Johnny Duhan so it must have made Johnny a few bob over the years. Bog Man was next and this song was written by Christy's brother Luka Bloom. One of my favourite songs Curragh Of Kildare was next followed by the great Lisdoonvarna. One of the many reasons I have always liked this song is because it mentions Van The Man. I think Christy must like Van as well because Van gets a mention in his Weekend In Amsterdam song. Ordinary Man followed and then Beeswing.I found this very moving because it reminded me of Kim. Afterwards I said that I didn't think Christy's version was as good as Richard Thompson's original which is a stupid thing to say because they are both great versions in their own way.
Christy then recited On The Mainland from his Graffiti Tongue album of 1996 in which he has a poke at the BBC for claiming Seamus Heaney as a British Nobel Prize winner. Then it was the crowd pleaser Don’t Forget Your Shovel which evolved into some hilarious nonsense about meeting Charles and Camilla in the Acoustic Tent at
I was glad that Christy sang Ride On because
Sarah had said it was her favourite Christy song. This was followed by Joxer Goes To Stuttgart and there was
the usual huge cheer when Ray Houghton got the ball and stuck it in the net. Spancil Hill written by John Considine in the 19th
century was next and quite brilliant. The songwriter actually came from Spancil
Hill which is in Glastonbury County Clare and he wrote the song after he emigrated to . California
The evening was coming to an end and for an encore Christy performed Rocky Road To Dublin followed by the tear jerker Sonny’s Dream. Then Christy, Declan and Jimmy left the stage in triumph after one of the most enjoyable concerts I have ever seen.On the way out of the hall i was really pleased to meet Hilary from County Kerry.I hadn't seen Hilary since Christy's show in Bath last year. She must be the worlds number one Christy fan so I hope Hilary will put me straight on any mistakes in this review.
Next day walking back across the bridge I took one last look as the sweet
softly underneath and I renamed the London Eye the London Diddily Eye in honour
of Christy Moore.