Gig Review 10 November 2007, Duesseldorf, Germany

The Dubliners in Loon-Plage (France) 

26 July 2008 

Saturday 26th of July, The Dubliners’ gig was the highlight of the 2008 edition of “Het Lindeboom festival” in Loon-Plage, near Dunkerque in the North of France.
It is a small-scale, convivial festival for traditional music and lasted four days (24th till 27th July 08).

It first started in 2002 and it is popular as well in France as in the West of Belgium. Both regions "Frans-Vlaanderen" (France) and "West-Vlaanderen" (at the Belgian seaside) have a mixed culture on both sides of the border and share an interest in their common treasure of traditional music and language. 

Consequently, the website of the Lindeboom (lime-tree) festival is completely made up in both languages French and Dutch. On their very attractive site, we find the following statement about the spirit of the festival: “The organisation selects the musicians who participate in the festival on the basis of two main criteria: the artists have to be the ambassadors of the traditional music of their region (…) and secondly they share by their very presence on stage our view of a traditional festival: the sharing of a pure and pleasant moment with the audience”. Needless to say that The Dubliners, the guests of honour this year, are a more than perfect match! The organising team was very proud to have Ireland’s cultural ambassadors on their stage and gave them a very warm welcome. 

Weeks in advance, the Lindeboom organisation made a lot of publicity and although they made a very nice poster with the entire programme of the festival, they had an extra one made, especially of The Dubliners. I noticed it first in the big tent with the bar. There was a text in Gaelic underneath and I suppose there was a connection between this text and the drinking facilities ;-) At the entrance of the festival we received the 3rd of July-edition of the regional newspaper “Le Phare Dunkerquois” with a full page article on The Dubliners, also containing their discography. 

The Lindeboom festivalgrounds are exceptionally picturesque, situated in the middle of the “Parc Galamé”, surrounded by trees and a brook. Early in the evening, The Dubliners gave a press conference in the “Ferme Galamé”, a beautifully restored farm that contains the headquarters of the festival, the bar and the dressingrooms for the artists.

The main aim of the festival is to be a “springboard” (see their website) for new musicians. The winner of the contest "Dauphin Het Lindeboom 2008" was Bogus, a group of three young men from West-Vlaanderen in Belgium (wasn’t I proud ! ). At 21h30 they played the first part of the programme before The Dubliners and by the time our Irish heroes came on stage, 22h30, the festivalgrounds were crowded with people of all ages, also lots of families with children. There were great expectations and magic in the air and The Dubliners made it all come true!

They were almost constantly photographed by six professional and about a hundred amateur photographers in the audience. From time to time, Patsy and Eamonn even posed for some of them, while singing and playing. 

The Dubliners were on stage until midnight, without a break and the Lindeboom audience, true lovers of traditional music, thoroughly enjoyed the rich mix of the best of Irish ballads, gigs and reels, a colourful musical palette of Irish life and history. Although the French public is somewhat less familiar with the lyrics of The Dubliners’ songs, the chorus of, “ The Black Velvet Band”, “Dublin in the Rare Auld times”, ”Paddy On the Railway”, “All For Me Grog” , “Dirty Old Town” and of course the three encores (with, according to Sean, “the Metallica-version of Whiskey in the Jar” were sung with great enthousiasm by the audience.

When it came to musical pearls like “Cill Chais” and “The Auld Triangle”, people listened very attentively and let their hearts be touched by Sean and Patsy’s voices.
“The Auld Triangle” was the highlight for me, because up to then, I had never heard a life-performance of it. Luke Kelly will never be forgotten in France neither and “The Dublin Minstrel” was loudly applauded. John played his “Marino Walz” with such great gusto, that Eamonn started waltzing around while accompanying him on his guitar – and a good dancer he is! For me this was a new element in their show that I had not seen before (I saw four of their gigs last year). These lads will never stop to surprise us!

After the gig, The Dubliners were given a short break and were then invited by the Lindeboom-team for an autograph-session with a countless number of fans in the audience. In the meantime my daughter and I, totally unexpected, had the honour to enjoy a backstage performance by Barney and his young friend Padraig on the banjo. Barney, always playing his tenor-banjo full of energy and pleasure during the entire programme, did not want to stop yet. He surprised me with his knowledge of the traditional music of Flanders and the Netherlands and amongst others, played “Komt vrienden in den ronde”, a song that I remember very well from my childhood. He moved me a lot, when he played “De Vagebond” a famous song of Wannes van de Velde, one of the best musicians in Flanders, that Barney and I admire very much. Coincidence or not, it was the Flemish traditional song ” Onder de lindeboom groene”, which is also part of Wannes van de Velde’s traditional repertoire, that was the inspiration for the name of the Lindeboom festival. And so the circle was closed!

I was in the seventh heaven. Our day with The Dubliners at the Lindeboom festival could not have been better! Thanks very, very much lads!!!

Review & photographs by Ria Voet, Belgium
All photographs were taken backstage or during the sound-check.Our 2008 picture gallery has even more pictures from Loon-Plage!

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