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Copyright Nick Morgan and crew

Concert Review by Nick Morgan
Hammersmith Apollo, London, October 27th, 2007
It’s surreal. We step out of the restaurant towards the car and there hurtling along the pavement, like a cross between the Batman’s Penguin and Alice’s White Rabbit, is Jozzer. ėnguin Rabbit
“Can’t stop. Theatre. Tickets. Late” he pants as he disappears into the gathering darkness of the West London evening. He’s way off his patch. Well out of the safety of his Rotherhithe manor. Not like Christy Moore then. The big man’s come home to the Hammersmith Apollo for two nights with accompanist Declan Sinnott, and for two and a half hours or so on each night this little piece of London has been transported across the water to Ireland.
It’s the second night – a boisterous beery Saturday night crowd. We’re in the second row of the stalls (the receipt tells me I booked the tickets eleven months ago). Actually because of the way the seats have been installed it’s like being in Club Class – but the poor sods behind us (who were also here last night as it turns out) are in danger of losing their knees every time I sit back. Somehow – largely I’ve no doubt because of the quality of the evening – we all manage this in very good humour from start to finish. It’s very close, just off centre, with Moore to our left when he takes the stage, Sinnott, with a cluster of guitars, to our far left. In front of Moore there’s a large print songbook – not lyrics as far as I can see, just song titles. And it becomes clear there’s no set list as such. Moore either simply starts a song, leaving Sinnott to clutch for the right guitar, or calls a tune before breaking into it – “Are you right there Deccy?”
To call him an intense performer would be a mastery of understatement.
He’s as taught as a coil. Lost in that performance space that singers talk of. It’s a tough place to be because the folks are here for the craic. “Come on Christy”. “You’re the man Christy”. “Christy I love you”. Most of it good humoured – but from where we are you can see the muscles in that big neck tightening with anger. Then he loses it – he makes two attempts to sing Richard Thompson’s ‘Beeswing’ but both times is stopped by the timeless clapping. Christy Moore
“All right, good luck to you” he mutters as he breaks into Jim Page’s ‘Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette’ as jaunty a take on nuclear war as you can get. Then he relents “Ok, I’m sorry for being such a bad tempered gobshite, and I know you’ve paid to be here and have a good time. But some songs are for clapping and some aren’t. And this one isn’t. So keep your hands in your pockets, and yours [looking up the balcony hecklers] in your mouth”. Silence. ‘Beeswing’.
Christy Moore Declan Sinnott
It’s a long and crowded set, full of anger, grief, death, oppression, injustice, love and lost innocence. And that’s just in the first song – ‘Yellow furze woman’, which is followed by ‘North and South of the river’, Ewan McColl’s ‘Sweet Thames flow softly’, ‘Biko drum’, ’Does this train stop on Merseyside?’ (an uber-depressing journey through the North of England which even manages to include the Hillsborough Disaster), Mike Waterson’s ‘Van Dieman’s Land’ (transportation to Australia), ‘Missing you’ (the fate of the Irish Diaspora in London), ‘Yellow triangle’ (which I’m sure speaks for itself), ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’ (with one of many huge side swipes at the Irish Catholic Church) and ‘Ride on’ (phew – a love song). That’s page one of my notebook – there a three-and-a-half others that I’ll not trouble you with. The simple point is that Moore, with his wonderfully lyrical voice and Sinnott’s delicate and perfectly textured accompaniments, really put you through the emotional wringer in the name of entertainment. But the audience simply love it. “You’re the boy Christy, you’re the boy”. And suitably chastised they even turn in a few good turns as a choir towards the end when Moore is relaxed, and gives in to the tumult with crowd-pleasing songs like ‘Don’t forget your shovel’, ‘Lisdoonvarna’, and the self-penned ‘Delirium tremens’, and the very beautiful ballad “Cliffs of Dooneen’ – of which Moore says “I seldom sing [this] now, only when conditions are perfect. Its a temperamental song and cannot be done at will”. Well, obviously tonight was just perfect. And it says something about the man that, returning for an encore, he plays the intensely intimate ‘Black is the colour’ and Jackson Browne’s moving ‘Before the deluge’, holding the audience as if he had us all in eye contact in the back room of a tiny pub.
Have you noticed, by the way, that in the space of a week we have seen Jim White, Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe and now the masterful Christy Moore? Pinch me. Wake me up. Have I fallen from my super-executive club-class seat on a plane and landed in a musical heaven? - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Kate's Christy Moore photo album

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