Christy Moore plays Athlone

Christy Moore and Declan Sinnot play Athlone

Yes folks, the legend himself came to the Athlone Radisson Hotel last week. He joked that the last gig was in the Dean Crowe theatre and the one before that in the old Ritz Cinema (demolished years ago, that was).

If you’re asking who Christy Moore is, you need to go here.

Rumours are already circulating that this concert was one of his best ever.

I’m not going to dispute it. I saw Christy last year at the Cambridge Folk Festival and he was fantastic. But you just can’t compare that open-air event to the intimate performance he gave us last week. Christy took the stage with longtime collaborator and former Horseslips/Mary Balck guitar wizard, Declan Sinnott. Declan gave us a song himself during the show, but mostly he embroidered Christy’s rough and ready playing with elegant, atmospheric guitar licks and tasteful, fluid vocal harmonies.

Christy revealed his grandfather is from Athlone and that was about all he knew about the man. He also did a few things I’m told he never does – he solicited and played a few requests from the crowd. He gave his plectrum to a young man who made one of those requests. He played a couple of encore songs and took the time to shake a few hands from the stage before the evening ended.

He was easy and full of good humour, interrupting his singing to compliment a lick “Decky” played at one point, to everyone’s great amusement. He cracked a good number of jokes and gave a bit of background to a couple of songs. Personally, I thought his first few songs were amazing – I hadn’t heard them before – but the audience really wanted to hear some of his standards, which he paraded out with equal passion and intensity as the new stuff. Lyrics in Delerium Tremens and Don’t Forget your Shovel if you Want to go to Work were updated and altered as the mood struck him. Bishop Casey was still good for a few laughs, even if half the audience was singing along, word for word. Ride On was played and Lisdoonvarna closed the night.

Perhaps it’s just his superlative showmanship, but I don’t think I was the only one in the crowd who felt Christy felt a real connection to the town. It was a lovely, powerful show to have attended and the evening really felt like a gift from Christy Moore to the people of his grandfather’s home town – Athlone.

Cheers to the H man for the ticket – I needed a great concert that night.