Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Sunday, May 10, 2015
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.
Saturday, May 09, 2015
Afterwards I bumped into Hilary from the Kingdom of Kerry.She is a lovely lady who I met three years ago through a mutual friend Petra from Hamburg at the London Feis in Finsbury Park when Bob Dylan,Van the Man and Christy played there. Hilary is a huge Christy fan who goes to all his gigs. She is also good friends with his stage crew which was very useful because she asked one of them called Mick to go backstage for me and he came back with my CD personally signed by Christy which really made my night.
I had to rush off to catch the 10.30 train.It had been a perfect night.It was great to see Christy and Declan in such fine form and obviously enjoying themselves and last night must be a contender for gig of the year as far as i am concerned.Thank you very much Christy and Declan.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Then it was time to make our way to see one of my personal favourites Christy Moore. We got there good and early to get right at the front.Before that though The Bishop Of Bath And Wells came on stage and gave a short speech which was well received.He reminded the audience that during the 3 days of the festival 90.000 children will have died worldwide because of lack of the basic things we take for granted and he urged the audience to support the charities that the festival supports.Thats what many people forget, that Glastonbury is a fundraiser.Each year it gives over £1,000,000 to groups such as OXFAM, GREENPEACE, WATER AID, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL and many others.
I think it was 1982 the first time I saw Christy at Glastonbury when he was in the Moving Hearts band and I think 3 times since as a solo artist. The previous time was 1993 when he came on before Lenny Kravitz and The Kinks . I remember that occasion because Chisty sang 'Welcome To The Cabaret' and with his great self -deprecating humour Christy said ,"Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for coming to see Lennie Kravitz and The Kinks and Christy Moore, i've never heard of him before!".Christy has always been a great supporter of the festival and so it was great to see him back on the Pyramid Stage at 4.00 Sunday afternoon.He hasn't enjoyed the best of health in recent years but Christy seems fighting fit again now. It was also great to see him arrive on stage with great support from Declan Sinnott and Donal Lunny.We were in for a great show. Christy began with the great Before The Deluge, a Jackson Browne song that Christy has made his own. I wonder why he chose that song to open? Had he gotten word backstage about the storm brewing?. He followed that with North And South Of The River, a very moving song about Northern Ireland. This set the tone for the show with Christy opting for songs with a strong political message rather than love songs or the whimsical humorous songs for which he is noted.You will have to excuse me now because I wasn't taking notes and I was merrily drunk so I can't remember every song that Christy sang but he did the following for sure.
North And South Of The River
Black Is The Colour (Christy does requests even at Glasto!)
Viva La Quinte Brigada (Awesome, My Favourite)
City Of Chicago
Go Move Shift
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Russian Roulette
A few minutes into the set it began to rain and got heavier until it became a downpour,the crowd stayed though even though they were drenched which is a huge sign of the affection the audience have for Christy.I think the rain even made Christy more determined to entertain the crowd.
"I know its hard but thanks for staying with us, you created a great vibe to work off,"Said Christy.
We all knew what the finish would be.It was of course Lisdoonvarna which was superb and I always like it when Christy name checks my other hero Van Morrison. The song evolved into I'll Tell me Ma and the crowd danced in the mud.All three of them took a bow and walked off in triumph. What a show! As we left John C Scott from the official Glastonbury Website took our photo. I looked like a drowned rat, so we went back to the tent .There was a huge pool of water in it because I had stupidly not done the zip up properly.Then I made a decision..
"What about James Brown?".
""Oh sod James Brown, he's not bothered about seeing us."
We put our belongings in a couple of bags and walked away, abandoning our little faithful little tent.It had done a good job for 4 years but it was knackered and caked in mud.(That was a really bad thing to do, you shouldn't abandon stuff for others to have to clear up)
We got the bus to Castle Cary and the train and were home about 50 minutes after leaving the site.A hot shower and a shave and I went to the pub and the football.That night I watched
about 2 hours of Glasto on the telly,Bonnie Raitt sounded great and Morrissey and I began to regret coming home early.I felt that I'd cheated.Today I washed my wellies with a hosepipe in the garden they were covered in mud. A little bit of Worthy farm will be forever part of my back garden
Monday, March 30, 2015
I don't know about any of those other musicians on that list but the only one that I can think of to celebrate in song the fact he was born in 1945 is Van Morrison in his song Wild Children on his seventh album, the very underrated Hard Nose The Highway released in 1973. It also features on the greatest live album ever made called It's Too Late To Stop Now.I don't know if Van's dad was in the army during the war because he worked in the Harland And Wolff shipyard and was probably kept busy building ships but that is beside the point. Wild Children is probably my second favourite song on the Hard Nose album after Warm Love , (You can listen to the song below if you want) and is about the influences on the kids of 45 growing up in the 50's and the people who inspired them such as Marlon Brando and James Dean, films like On The Waterfront and the plays of Tennessee Williams. Anyway at the concert in Cyprus Avenue on Van's birthday I think as well as the song Cyprus Avenue he should include Wild Children in his set-list. I have never seen him perform it live so that would be great. Roll on August 31st!.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
A man whose name I didn't catch came on to introduce the show and talked briefly about the Teenage Cancer Trust. Roger Daltrey has organised these annual shows for 15 years and they have raised £20,000,000 in that time. Then there was a short but very moving film about the charities work. After that Roger Daltrey came on stage and introduced a group of young people who have benefited from the Teenage Cancer Trust and one of them spoke briefly to the audience. Roger Daltrey has gone up in my estimation since last night. He deserves a lot of praise for all his hard work. Finally Roger introduced Van and the show got under way.
The band of Paul Moran, Dave Keary, Paul Moore, Bobby Ruggeiro and Dana Masters began playing and then Van walked on stage to huge applause and proceeded to play Celtic Swing. This was followed by Higher Than The World. Dana looked really nice but I was slightly bugged that her contribution on backing vocals was so quiet. What is the point of backing singers if you can't hear them?. Then Van introduced his first guest of the evening which was Clare Teal. They sang one of my favourite songs from the new album Carrying A Torch which was fabulous and then a song from Astral Weeks The Way Young Lovers Do which I don't think I have heard Van perform live before because I didn't go to the Astral Weeks shows of 2008.
Then it was time for the enigma that is P.J.Proby to take the stage. He clearly relished every moment of his appearance. I bet P.J. thought his days of appearing on a stage like this were well and truly over so he loved to be back in the spotlight. They sang Van's song What Ever Happened To P.J.Proby and then a song that P.J. had written in reply which I think was called P.J.Proby Calling Van Morrison, It was ok and fun and Van played some nifty saxophone on it. I really enjoyed their next duet, Sam Cooke's Bring It On Home To Me. P.J then left the stage after milking the applause. I had actually quite enjoyed his contribution. Precious Time followed with Paul Moran again showing how great he is on the trumpet.
Van's old friend Georgie Fame looking resplendent in a white suit then came on-stage and seated himself at the keyboards for Get On With The Show but as on the Duets album I think Georgie's huge talents are not really utilised on this song. The cha cha cha ending is quite humorous though. Georgie was much more to the fore on The New Symphony Sid and Centrepiece which evolved into Corrina,Corrina. I should mention Dave Keary on guitar who was outstanding all night. George departed and then it was time for a really soulful Days Like This and finally Dana made herself noticed with her vocal contribution. Van's sax playing was great as well. One of the absolute highlights of the evening for me was when Mick Hucknell arrived on stage and performed a stunning Streets Of Arklow with Van. I must say that after about 3 decades of not liking Mick Hucknell due to stupid gingerist prejudice I am now a fan. He is a great soul singer.Van played some great electric guitar on this song. I filmed it and you can see the result below.
After Mick left the stage it was Moondance a song I am usually bored with hearing too often but I enjoyed it tonight and Dana's contribution was really nice.This was followed by Magic Time which was ok because Van & Dave were tip top on sax and guitar. Following that Paul started the familiar intro to Whenever God Shines his Light but on the spur of the moment Van cancelled it and they did Brown Eyed Girl instead. This shows the genius of Van. He makes it up as he goes along.The audience loved this and sang along with it.
The pinnacle of the evening for me was was next with Into The Mystic. It was magical . The only distraction was silly people in the audience who whooped and whistled at certain points. Van ad-libbed on the lyrics and started scatting words like "Don't worry child, I'll carry you, till we get the healing done". I found that very poignant indeed especially in the context of it being a charity event for teenage cancer. Well done Van. He disappeared into the wings to tumultuous applause.The house lights came on and I thought that was the end. I left my seat and walked to the front to try and get a photo of the band but suddenly Van reappeared and I sat down on the floor to listen to a wonderful rendition of In The Garden. I was spellbound. There is no finer musician on the planet than Van Morrison.
That was finally the end of a wonderful concert. I met up with my friends for a quick pint in the pub then back to the Indian Restaurant at my hotel for a nice feed and then to bed and fell asleep into restful slumbers. Thank you very much the Teenage Cancer Trust, Roger Daltrey, Van Morrison, my friends and the Montana Hotel, Kensington for a most enjoyable visit to London. A big hand for the band !