Christy Moore – Royal Festival Hall

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Why this gig?

I used to listen to a lot of Christy Moore. I probably own a dozen or so of his albums. Mind you, twenty years ago, I listened to a lot of Irish folk music. That seems to have rather tailed off over the last ten years. The most recent album I own by him is well over ten years old. I also saw Christy play live many times. Firstly at festivals like the Cambridge Folk Festival and Glastonbury, but later I also saw at least a couple of his tours.

Actually, I was vaguely surprised to see that he was still touring. I thought I’d read something about him retiring from live performances for health reasons. Obviously I was wrong. But when I saw this show advertised, I wasted no time at all in buying a ticket.

Support

There’s no support. In fact there’s no interval. Christy and friends just come on and play for over two hours.

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Previously, I’d only ever seen Christy playing on his own. But tonight, (as, apparently, he usually is these days) he’s joined by Declan Sinnott on guitar and Jimmy Higgins on percussion. The extra instruments make for a much larger sound, but the group is small enough that it doesn’t affect the intensity that Christy’s performances are known for.

As I said, I don’t listen to much Irish music these days, so I’m slightly worried that I won’t enjoy as much as I used to. I needn’t have worried at all. Christy is still a great performer. He really knows how to draw an audience into a song. Right from the start, the audience are totally captivated by the performance.

I’m also slightly worried that as I haven’t listened to any of his new albums for ten years, I might not know many of the songs. But Christy has little time for promoting a new album. At each performance you’re just as likely to hear something from any of the albums in his forty-five year career. He starts off with “Biko Drum” and follows it with “Yellow Triangle” and “Natives”. All in all, I think I knew about three quarters of the songs.

To me, Christy is at his best on ballads like “Nancy Spain” (which is early in the set) and “Ride On” (which comes towards the end). He even plays “Bright Blue Rose” which has always been one of my favourites and provides a nice contrast to the Mary Black version which I heard a few weeks earlier.

Politics have always been an important part of Christy’s repertoire and tonight is no exception. Christy is great at making politics personal – with songs like “Smoke and Strong Whiskey” and “Ordinary Man”, both of which he plays.

And there there are the rousing singalongs like “Delirium Tremens”, “Lisdoonvarna” and “Joxer Goes to Stuttgart” (probably the only song about football that I like). These all get the audience clapping and singing along.

They play for two hours. But it always seems too short. There are always other songs that you want to here. But it’s a great night. I’m happy to report that Christy Moore is still at the top of his form.

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