Belgium October 2008

The Dubs And The Foggy Luxembourg Dew 
(Roodt-Syre, Luxembourg) 
11th October 2008

Maybe they should have given "The Foggy Dew" as an encore that night, instead of "Molly Malone"...that would certainly have been the most appropriate song to finish off with. Because that was what hit us on the way home from the concert in Roodt/Syre, Luxembourg...thick fog where you could hardly see your hand before your face at times and for the first time that night you started wishing you'd stayed at home after all! But though the journey back was nothing short of a nightmare, all's well that ends well, and needless to say, the hours before more than compensated for the nerve-racking drive! 

But I'm putting the cart before the horse, beginning at the end...

And at the beginning was indeed a horse and cart, or rather, two horses! The initial idea of the concert was to raise funds for the recently founded non-profit organization "De Leederwon" which organized the event in cooperation with the two organic agricultural societies "bio-LABEL" and "Demeter-Bond" which in this year celebrate their 20th anniversary. The foundation "De Leederwon" (= rack wagon, cart) aims to introduce and apply the "Huifbed" therapy in Luxembourg. The "Huifbed", originally developed for treating the handicapped, is a kind of stretcher fastened between a steel frame to which two horses are harnessed, so that the patient virtually lies on horseback. This brings about a gentle massage, a treatment which has been successful in the Netherlands for many years and in the meantime has proved to have a positive effect on many ailments. 
The gig in Roodt/Syre was not the first time that the Dubliners have supported this good cause. In 1997 they contributed to an international CD-production "All Together" with artists and disabled from both Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The proceeds from this CD formed the financial basis for the opening of a "Huifbed" arena in the Netherlands. 

This was the 7th concert of the Dubliners in Luxembourg since 1993, and they obviously have many, many loyal fans in and around the Grand Duchy. More than 800 of them turned up at the Centre Sportif to enjoy what was to be from start to finish an evening of musical entertainment of the very best! Of course we saw and heard that broad spectrum of music and songs that makes a night out with the Dubliners so unique. This is no order of performance, no order of preference, just a few impressions from a fantastic concert:

...Jigs and reels where it's simply impossible to keep your hands and feet still. And where Barney's fingers sometimes seem to have wings!

...John playing that musical masterpiece, his wonderful "St. Patrick's Cathedral". Close your eyes, those who have seen this magnificent building, and you're there again!

...John's fiddle coming alive in "The Hen's March to the Midden". No need to close your eyes here to find yourself in a farmyard!

...Eamonn showing us all facets of his brilliant guitar-playing. What would be Barney's "solo for two", or Barney's and John's "duet for three", without him?

...Patsy singing in his unique, unmistakable way his own lovely ballads "The Rare Auld Times" and "The Ferryman". Unthinkable nowadays, a Dubliners' gig without them!

...Sean showing once again just how versatile he is! Of course his audience always wants to hear some of the old favourites and judging by the applause after "Banks of the Roses", "Black Velvet Band" or "Spanish Lady" the visitors in Roodt were no exception. But his rendering of "Cill Chais" in Gaelic proved that Sean can fascinate his audience simply with his voice. Something humorous is also a must in Sean's repertoire, and this time it was "Courtin' in the Kitchen" a song with a not-so-very-happy ending. (And where even a native speaker has a job keeping up with the text!) To top it all, and to the obvious delight of the audience who took great pleasure in joining in, he sang "Ech drenke gär mäi Pättchen" (I like my glass of wine) a song in Luxembourg dialect. 

...Quieter, thought-provoking moments too. As when John recited "Luke's 21st Anniversary Poem" or later in the evening talked about the passing away of their good friend Ronnie Drew and paid him tribute for all he had done for folk music over the world. He remembered how he came to write "Ronnie's Heaven" and gave a few explanations to help in understanding it. I found this poem very moving the first time I read it, but that was not comparable with John reciting it himself, thoughtful one moment, making you laugh the next! 

...And the "newest" Dubliner Patsy remembering in song those of them who have passed away. He never fails to express his respect for the late Luke Kelly, and his rendering of "The Dublin Minstrel" in Roodt was filled with as much warmth and admiration as the first time I heard him sing it. Later on he paid a tribute to the unforgotten Ciaran Bourke with "All for me Grog". In memory of Ronnie Drew and the early days of the Dubliners we were not only invited to take part in "Finnegan's Wake", but to listen to "The Sea Around Us", a song from the same early album. 

...The Dutch group "Parelmoer" (mother-of-pearl), who had helped the visitors to while away the time before the gig and continued to entertain us during the interval, joining the Dubliners on stage for the last official song of the evening "The Wild Rover". And a great time was had by all, both on stage and in the audience!

Difficult to pick out highlights from a concert where every song and every tune is, when all is said and done, a highlight itself! But there are two songs, not yet mentioned, that I remember vividly. "The Auld Triangle", that awe-inspiring song that almost takes my breath away whenever I hear it and sent me into the break covered in goose-pimples. The second one was Barney's "song of the sea". Although I'd been looking forward to hearing him singing "Fiddler's Green", I wasn't disappointed in the least that he didn't, because instead his choice fell on "Three Score and Ten" that wonderfully moving song lamenting the death of so many fishermen from the north-east coast of England who lost their lives in a North Sea gale.

We got the chance to go backstage after the show with all the other autograph hunters, so I could thank Barney personally for singing that song, and exchanged a few words with all of them. No airs about those five stars, nothing stand-offish at all, just wonderfully nice and friendly and natural. Patsy wished us a safe journey home when we left. (Does he have the second sight?) 
It was almost midnight when we left the venue, five autographs and a few very precious memories richer! 

Out into the foggy dew...

Article by Enid Bühler, photographs by Helmut Bühler
All photographs taken 11 October 2008

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