Vienna 2008 Revisited

The Dubliners in Vienna (Austria) 

Vienna 2008 Revisited 

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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 says. 

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 tremendously. 

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 now."



Article & photographs Rare Auld Times Entertainment & The Dubliners  
All photographs taken 8-12 September 2008 at the Metropol, Vienna.

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