Review: Christy Moore, Festival Theatre

From Ordinary Man, his tale of unemployment and despair, to the political pain of North and South of the River, tonight Christy Moore, accompanied by acclaimed guitarist Declan Sinnott, demonstrates why he’s regarded as such a masterful exponent of folk’s storytelling tradition.

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In that same vein, he ably tackles Bob Dylan’s Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, and Joni Mitchell’s The Magdalene Laundries, as well as delivering a stirring version of Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt.

In among all the serious stuff, the Irishman proves he’s also still a dab hand at the funnies, delighting the audience with footballing ditty Joxer Goes To Stuttgart, the excellent Delirium Tremens and A Stitch In Time, about a wife who teaches her abusive husband a sharp lesson.

After a rendition of Barrowland, his paean to Glasgow’s famous dance hall, Moore’s quick to name-check one of Edinburgh’s musical institutions too.

“For about 40 years I’ve been trying to write a song about Sandy Bell’s,” he jokes. The local references continue throughout, including a (shortened) version of 
The Ballad of James Connolly, the Capital-born Republican martyr, and the dedication of Black Is The Colour to the late Owen Hand, founder of the city’s Triangle Folk Club.

“Go on? Where am I going?” asks the veteran singer-songwriter in mock confusion, neatly dealing with a particularly tiresome individual who’s been continually roaring “gaun yersel’ Christy” at the top of his voice since opener City of Chicago.

As often occurs at gigs like this, one idiot triggers another, and bellowed requests soon become a distraction. Thankfully, Moore’s learned a trick or two in his long career, acceding to the odd suggestion before putting them in their place.

His mischievous streak continues right to the end. “My English teacher once told me: ‘Christy Moore, you’re as thick as s***e’. Well, Father, wherever you are now – hell, limbo, purgatory, or maybe even heaven – this song is in the Penguin Book of Irish Verse!” he grins, before launching into a crowd-pleasing rendition of Lisdoonvarna that threatens to bring the house down.