The Dubliners in Vienna (Austria)
Vienna 2008 Revisited
Click on all the images for a large
We thought to have a look at the Dubliners' appearances in Vienna and find out
what the rest of Europe can expect. The Austrian tour, launching the lads into
the autum touring season, usually is an indicator for the remainder of the year.
So this is not a review, but an analysis of an almost week-long
celebration of Irish music, or as Sean put it, "five drunken nights".
First, all of them are in very good shape. With the summer break only
interrupted by the occasional festival gig, they came back lean and mean and
hungry to perform. That said, let's face it that they won't do 200 gigs a year
anymore: "I can't even imagine today what it was to play 37 or more shows in a
row, with a single day off all in between to recharge your batteries!" Eamonn
It is always hard to say if this or that gig was better than some other.
Actually, it is in the eye (and ear) of the beholder and what might fascinate
you leaves me totally cold.
Still I am sure to say that we saw a determination to perform and entertain that had a different quality from previous years. There
were several aspects to it which are worth scrutinizing.
Ronnie's death surely had the biggest impact. There was a sudden and silencing
seriousness and depth at some stage of the show that effortlessly reached and
grabbed the audience. When John began to tell in his (quote) "best of my Dublin
Deutsch" (Deutsch=German) what a loss Ronnie's passing meant to the world of
folk music and individually to each of them, you could hear a pin drop. But
he also made very clear that Ronnie Drew definitely would not like to see us
mourn but to remember him for the entertainer he was and the joy he gave. John's
poem "Ronnie's Heaven" (reprinted in our news of 18 August 2008) changed the
atmosphere again, paying respect to the founder member of the group in a wonderful light-hearted, typical Irish mood.
Possibly - we can only speculate here - this was the initial reason that made
the gigs feel different. The lads enjoyed the shows and it showed - more pronouncedly than in previous years;
our selection of pictures on this page are wonderful examples of fun and dedication to the music (and, no, don't
worry, there'll be galleries of each day to enjoy soon as well). There were
smiling faces and mutual appreciation.
The Dubliners shows follow a crowd-pleasing pattern. Come to think of it, there
is an almost endless stream of tunes and ballads audiences expect them to play,
and if they really did they would be on stage "till the cows come home", as
Patsy usually puts it (alternating with "till first mass in the morning"). To
some extent, the Dubliners are caught in their own legend: Now honoring
Ronnie for his essential part in the Dubliners history, we shouldn't
forget that Patsy already has the task of reminding everyone of Ciaran
Bourke with "All For Me Grog" and also paying their dues to
"the greatest singer of all times, in my mind", speaking of Luke
Kelly of course. Being fair to their own history already takes up a good
part of the evening.
The Vienna concerts saw the revival of rarely sung or long neglected titels
and even completely new material - Sean
revived the "Manchester Rambler" and John, fitting for Austria, the popular
"Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch (Zillertaler Wedding March)". Barney introduced a
new ballad called "Jock Stewart". Sean added "The Call And The Answer", a song by
a friend from England, as well as "Courtin' In The Kitchen" to the Dubliners
repertoire. Patsy re-introduced "Off To Dublin In The Green" (aka The Merry Ploughboy) to the songlist - who says the Dubs can't do the rebel stuff
and do it justice simply for the great music it is and not as a political
statement. Patsy chose it because it is the earliest memory of a song he can
recall Ronnie singing. Sometimes named "live rehearsels", all these went very
well actually and the audience took 'em with great enthusiasm. Even those hungry
for all the old standards seemed to enjoy a new or refreshed song and tune
Summarizing the nights, these were loud and rousing, gentle and touching, and
moving masterfully through all human emotions. There was not much more you could
have asked for besides going on "till the cows come home", but then the Dubliners wisely follow the old showbiz rule "Always leave 'em wanting more".
If these performances are any indicator for the upcoming tours, then we are
going to see enthralled crowds - and concert promoters lining up for 2009 like fans for an
autograph. Which is not a bad thing in my book as (my last quote for today and
I certainly don't have to tell you who said that) "It's too late to stop
Article & photographs Rare Auld
Times Entertainment & The Dubliners
All photographs taken 8-12 September 2008 at the Metropol, Vienna.