The Magic Continues!
Britain, 20th March 2013
Seán, Éamonn, Patsy and Gerry – The Dublin Legends – have made it happen! And we – two of the travelling people – were lucky enough to be among the audience of one of their very first magical concerts.
Now as a rule there's nothing particularly magical about an "Irish Washerwoman", but with their opening tune The Dublin Legends had the visitors in Oxford enchanted within seconds! And they kept them under their spell through good two hours of wonderful music and craic.
As promised, the classics were there, performed with the usual class and skill – “The Black Velvet Band”, “Poor Paddy On The Railway”, “The Rocky Road To Dublin”, “The Irish Rover”, “Whiskey In The Jar” to mention only a few, together with beloved instrumentals such as “The Fermoy Lassies/Sporting Paddy” and “Cooley’s/The Dawn/The Mullingar Races”. Other tunes and songs, perhaps less well known to a wider audience, provided a contrast and added spice.
For example, “Fáinne Geal An Lae” performed by Seán in a suitably contemplative mode, was immediately followed by “Courtin’ In The Kitchen”. Seán told us that the song was about a man who had been invited by his girlfriend to a “hoolie” in the kitchen of the house where she worked as a servant maid; he had great hopes for the success of his courting but as it happened everything went badly wrong… not so the song, particularly difficult to sing, especially if one sings it while dancing! From the kitchen to the prison – later in the evening Seán took us on a short trip up to the North East of England with an equally lively rendition of “Back In Durham Gaol”.
Patsy announced that he had received a special request for “The Town I Loved So Well”, so in addition to his well-known and much-loved “Ferryman” and “Rare Auld Times”, songs of his own changed and changing Dublin, he also treated us to a beautiful version of Phil Coulter's emotive ode to Derry. The traditional folksong “The Nightingale” was more than a contrast – what a pleasure to hear this merry little song in Oxford – all the more so as we hadn't heard Patsy singing it for quite a while.
We all know by now “To Barney”, performed by Gerry on the banjo and Éamonn on guitar; the immense skill and obvious good humour of the two musicians always leaves us wanting for more. Well this time we had more – in the second half, Gerry performed one of his own compositions, on the fiddle, accompanied as always by Éamonn. The tune, called “Song For PJ”, was written by Gerry in memory of his father-in-law and the mood was quite different, melancholy and very moving. Gerry told us of PJ’s difficult life but he also mentioned the shock PJ got when he found that his favourite daughter was dating a musician – and even worse, a banjo player!
Although the constellation was new and unaccustomed, it was more than obvious that the lads felt very much at home, on stage together. The average age of this group is now 65 (because Gerry has lowered it somewhat), yet there’s nothing half-hearted in their performance – you still feel the enthusiasm and it is very clear that they enjoy what they are doing. What is more – it is now common knowledge that Éamonn had serious health trouble at the beginning of the year and that some early concerts had to be postponed. When this leg of the tour started, Éamonn didn’t want to let his bandmates and the audiences down, so he was there and he delivered – and how! At this point we would like to acknowledge his professionalism and his commitment, thank him for the music and the craic (never a dull moment with Éamonn!) and wish him a complete recovery.
Back to the show – it was fun and entertainment at its best, from start to finish, with all the wonderful music peppered with witty stories and anecdotes. The audience loved it all – there were smiling faces everywhere at the end of the night – and rewarded them with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Yes, the magic continues, thanks to The Dublin Legends!
And we, the travelling people, are looking forward to lots more of it!
by Enid & Renata
Pictures by Enid & Helmut & Renata (see gallery for individual