Gig Review July 13, 2007 Belgium

The Dubliners at the “Turnhoutse Vrijdagen”

13 July 2007

During the summer holidays, the municipality of Turnhout (in the east of the province of Antwerp) organises a series of very popular open air music festivals, with the name “Turnhoutse Vrijdagen” - (“vrijdag” means “friday”). Last year, there was an extra, special edition on Saturday 8th: a party for people from all over the world with the name of the town “Turnhout” in their family-name. At this occasion the mayor of Turnhout, Marcel Hendrickx, personally invited The Dubliners , because he is a great fan of them himself. Their gig was a great success and this year they invited The Dubliners again. 

The lads with Marcel Hendrickx, mayor of Turnhout, in 2006 © Turnhoutse Vrijdagen

Last year I did not have the opportunity to meet Marcel Hendrickx. After this year’s gig, I received this unique picture of 8th July 2006 (11th edition of the festival), for which I am very grateful to him. Barney is wearing the “Turnhoutse Vrijdagen” t-shirt, as worn by the Turnhout crew.

For my family, it was the first time that we were all going together to a gig of The Dubliners. My husband and our two kids arrived in Turnhout a couple of hours before I did, because they had the whole day off. At 18h I got a call from my twelve year-old daughter and what did I hear in the middle of a crossroads, through my mobile telephone: my heroes, singing “The Black Velvet Band” . “Mama”, Sofie said in a kind of slight panic, ”The Dubliners are already on stage!”. “Don’t worry”, I said, they are having a sound-check, they won’t start before 22h15. I’ll be there in time”.

At 20h30 The Cluricauns, a folk-rock band of Turnhout, with a name inspired by the Irish myths and folklore, opened the night very successfully. The market-place was completely filled with people from all over Flanders, some of the Netherlands, who had come especially for The Dubliners. The man who introduced them, said that their gig had been the highlight of the 2006 festival, so it was obvious they would invite them again. What the man exactly said was: “The Dubliners’ gig was the goose-flesh moment of the Turnhoutse Vrijdagen edition of 2006”. This needs some explaining of course: a couple of years ago a journalist introduced a new word in our Dutch language: “een kippenvel-moment”. I translate literally: “ a goose-flesh moment”. In English you know the expression “I am goose-flesh all over”. In Belgium, “een kippenvel-moment” is the highlight of an event, when the audience is personally and emotionally involved. As true fans all over Europe (and far abroad) know, we are always personnaly and emotionally involved in The Dubliners’ gigs ;-)

The Dubliners visibly enjoyed the immediate and spontanious good contact with the audience. The warm welcome they had received from the organising team and the audience in Turnhout last year, still was a recent memory. Four to six professional photographers of various press-media, were making pictures of them, all through the gig. So were many fans.

Against expectations, Friday the 13th turned into one of the first real warm summer days in Belgium. Patsy welcomed the Irishmen in the audience “who brought in the good weather in Belgium”. Right from the very first note, until the last one of the last encore, the market-place was filled with people of all generations, clapping and singing. Inspired by the beautiful church on the market-place, Patsy frequently blessed the audience for their active participation. Everybody on and in front of the stage had the summer-sun in his or her heart. While Sean was singing “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, Patsy made a little jump and quickly clapped his feet! When Barney said: “When you feel like dancing, don’t”, we were even more temped to dance, but hardly could because the place was crowded with people. Fortunately there was Patsy showing us from time to time, some fine Irish dancing on the tunes of the irresistible reels played by Barney, John and Eamonn. Before he started singing his famous shanty “South Australia”, Barney, in his best Dutch, instructed the people in the two parts of the market-place to sing the chorus alternatingly. His and Sean’s knowledge of our language is always a very nice surprise and was immediately applauded. 

At the end of the gig, Sean thanked the audience and the organising team of the Turnhoutse Vrijdagen for their good reception. He concluded : “Als we nog een derde uitnodiging krijgen, komen we zeker terug”. The man who had introduced them, gave the answer immediately: The Turnhoutse Vrijdagen-team had already decided that they would invite The Dubliners again in 2008, for the third year in a row ! They gave a beautiful bouquet of flowers to each member of The Dubliners. Patsy and Eamonn, like real stars, threw theirs in the audience in the direction of two young girls on the first row who had managed to put some cans of Guinness beer on the stage at the end of the gig. Debby and Brenda from Gent were in the seventh heaven. Although I am not a professional fortune-teller I dare say it’s for sure that lots of The Dubliners’ fans who were in Turnhout today, will be back here in the summer of 2008!

Photographs (unless noted) and review by Ria Voet

© 2000-2014 Rare Auld Times Entertainment, Dublin, Ireland