Gig Review December 17, 2006, Dublin, Ireland

The Dubliners - Live At Vicar Street
Dublin, Ireland - 17 December 2006 

Let's face it: Vicar Streer, situated at the corner of Thomas Street and (surprise, surprise) Vicar Street, a mere five minutes from Christchurch Cathedral, is a big box with oodles of folks crammed into. But you can't beat the atmosphere, you can't! And when The Dubliners appear there, like on 17th December 2006, everybody queued up and loved it.

The reason was the release party of the new DVD/2CD Live At Vicar Street, celebrated by the band with due delay; that laid-back attitude, my friends, is to be applauded in a world where a new CD is old two days after its release, and it's an attitude only the Irish seem to have nowadays. 

Introduced by Jim McCann, the band was greeted by ca. 1.400 people. The program rather exactly complied with the one on the new album. Song requests were mixed into the jubilance, but the band did not honor any of these, although the most persistant fellow was responsible for a good laugh involuntary: He kept shouting "Play Barny's Banjo Selection!", until Barney himself assured him that he heard him. While Barney was responding, it became quite silent, the guy goofed and yelled: "Play Barno's Banjy Selection!"

Among the guests, you could see Luke's brother Jimmy Kelly as well as Barney's 
best pupil Gerry O'Connor, who was fascinated by the virtuosity of the old master once again, and that with good reason: Barney was in top form; I know everybody writes that, but I saw them nine times this year and I want to claim: He was particularly fine on that evening, obviously feeling like a million dollars among his hometown fans. 

Right after "I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me", Brian Hand came on stage with a dummy pie (it still had some candles lit on it, mind you) as it was just the day after Barney's birthday. I should rephrase that and write Brian "sneaked up" and suddenly stood next to Barney, whose cunning face expressed a touchingly amount of joy and surprise. Needless to say, the whole venue sang "Happy Birthday Barney"!

At the end of the first set, he announced a tune and introduced it with a funny story featuring a TV appearance, kids and their fear of bearded men. After he was through with the whole story and prepared the audience for the tune, he remarked in his inimitable way, "That's going to be the last song of the first set, but only in case I remember it, otherwise we do anything else..."

Appropriate for the season, they performed "The First Noel". 
Other than that, there wasn't anything you couldn't have heard somewhere along the tours in the past year, possibly a bit more relaxed. That doesn't mean that they didn't deliver serious entertainment - the commitment in front of "their own" folks, the knowledge of the very last gig of the year and, so to speak, the wish  to make a graceful exit of 2006, ensured that they pulled out all the stops.

John and Eamonn mesmerized with their duets (and proved to be tremendously funny as well), Seán sang with passion and Patsy once more proved that he literally can put on a show like a rock star, which carried away the audience back to the last row. Writing mostly about Barney today therefore was by no means implying that the rest of the band did not live up to expectations - the feedback from the crowd was a sure sign of the cult-like state all five of them enjoy "back home". It was more a Tip o' the Hat to Barney whose birthday, as mentioned, was celebrated "officially" that night.



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