A visit to Ireland last weekend meant that I missed out on Luka Bloom’s return visit to Geneva; but it also meant that I had a chance to catch his big brother in concert in Dublin.
Christy Moore is nothing less than a – perhaps the – living legend of Irish folk music. At his gig last Sunday in Vicar Street he was in fine voice and good humour. (I’d been told to expect a grumpy Christy – “not much fun these days” one friend said.) Perhaps the fact that it was a benefit gig (for the children of Gaza) meant that his approach was a little different, but whatever the reason it was an evening to remember. Certainly the most enjoyable of the four times I’ve seen him live.
He was accompanied by Declan Sinnott on guitar, along with a bodhràn player and a backing vocalist. There were rousing singalongs (Viva la Quince Brigade, Ride On, Delirium Tremens, Nancy Spain), gentle ballads (Beeswing, The Ballad of Patrick Murphy, Listen), and quite a few “message” songs (No Time For Love, Yellow Triangle). A good mix of solo Christy, both older and newer stuff, and songs from the Planxty and Moving Hearts eras.
His album King Puck is one of my favourites so I was really pleased to hear his version of Jackson Browne’s Before The Deluge and also The Woman From The Yellow Furze. I also really like his 2005 album Burning Times, which includes the beautifully crafted Beeswing, by Richard Thompson. He sang it sweetly last Sunday – perhaps better than the version I’ve embedded below. (Christy is so much better live than on recordings.)
Being a benefit gig for the children of Gaza, they made time too to deliver some strong messages on that subject. The evening opened with the video below of Another Child Another War, a moving and powerful song written and performed by Mick Blake. The gig was brought to a close with a live performance of the same song by Blake himself. The Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland was present on the night too.
Irish poet Paula Meehan was also on the bill for the night. Christy first sang Folk Tale, one of Meehan’s poems that he had set to music, after which she recited a couple of her poems including the very moving Child Burial.
By Paula Meehan
Your coffin looked unreal,
fancy as a wedding cake.
I chose your grave clothes with care,
your favourite stripey shirt,
your blue cotton trousers.
They smelt of woodsmoke, of October,
your own smell was there too.
I chose a gansy of handspun wool,
warm and fleecy for you. It is
so cold down in the dark.
No light can reach you and teach you
the paths of the wild birds,
the names of the flowers,
the fishes, the creatures.
Ignorant you must remain
of the sun and its work,
my lamb, my calf, my eaglet,
my cub, my kid, my nestling,
my suckling, my colt. I would spin
time back, take you again
within my womb, your amniotic lair,
and further spin you back
through nine waxing months
to the split seeding moment
you chose to be made flesh
word within me.
I’d cancel the love feast
the hot night of your making.
I would travel alone
to a quiet mossy place,
you would spill from me into the earth
drop by bright red drop.
from The Man Who Was Marked By Winter, 1991