Christy Moore is a phenomen. In Germany he is one of the very few folk acts who can easily fill halls of several thousand people. This summer he had a short three day German tour, playing in Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin. Support was former De Dannan singer Eleanor Shanley who is a rare guest in Germany.
On a hot Sunday's afternoon I made the trip to Tanzbrunnen in Cologne, an open air venue just besides river Rhine. Though temperatures above 35° C (95° F), a big crowd came to see Christy.
The concert started already at 4 p.m. (hottest time of the day...), with Eleanor Shanley (photo) starting off with the De Dannan classic "The Call and the Answer". Eleanor sang this afternoon solo, accompanying herself on guitar. Though you could hear that she is not used to play the guitar on stage, her voice was as great as ever - a very enjoyable act. She chose the songs for this concert with care and taste - it was quite a 'best of Eleanor Shanley'. Some of the highlights of her 45 minute set were "If I were a blackbird", "From Galway to Graceland" and "Kilkelly" and as encore a most beautiful a capella version of "Raglan Road".
Then Christy Moore started his set, with "Before the Deluge".
Christy tours regularly in Germany since 1990, after a twelve year absence. In 1990 he wanted to convince his German agent with four concerts that he can tour successfully in Germany - and the agent was quite surprised how easily tickets were sold. Since then, Christy has had three German tours of about two weeks, playing in bigger, often sold-out concert halls. This time his three gigs were to promote his newest album "Graffiti Tongue" just released in Germany.
There are many Irish people working in the Cologne/Düsseldorf area, and as Christy Moore personifies a bit of Ireland for the Irish in exile, a bigger Irish crowd turned up at the concert. They first were a bit loud, but as always Christy had no problems to calm them down. Christy said in an interview in German Folksblatt magazine that he sometimes feels disturbed by some of the people in exile coming to his concerts; "they sometimes forget that they are not the only ones at the concert. They simply ignore that there is an audience of several hundred Germans really wanting to listen to the music. They seem to think, just because they are Irish and I am Irish, that they can control, manipulate me. I find this annoying, and sometimes I get really angry. Fortunately I always find the right words to calm them down."
Although it must be said that the Irish often also enrich the concerts as German audiences are often a bit stiff, and the Irish part in the audience brings in some of the atmosphere that makes a Christy Moore concert so special. Christy loves the German audience; as he says, "for me personally it is the best audience in the world. They are very enthusiastic and very good listeners."
On the drive to the Cologne gig Christy got nostalgic, remembering his first ever appearance in Germany. It was in Braunschweig 24 years ago, in 1973, when he played for the first time with Planxty in front of a German audience. To remember this, he sang at the concert the Planxty song "Only our Rivers", with just very gentle Guitar accompaniment. Most of the songs Christy chose for this afternoon were well known, more the Christy Moore classics - there was just one song from "Graffiti Tongue", "Yellow Triangle", and that was a request.
He sang "Back Home in Derry", "Nancy Spain", "Fairytale of New York" - songs where also the German audience could - and would - join in. Another highlight was the nearly a capella sung traditional "When two lovers meet". Christy also sung "Yellow Furze Woman", a song about his late mother that he performs just seldom; this time because that day would have been her birthday. As his final song Christy chose "Ride on", dedicated as a lullaby to a small child in the audience.
Of course he had to come back for two more encores as the audience would not calm down, though stomping and crying for more was linked with sweating in the heat. First encore was "Lisdoonvarna", second were two more songs, "Sonny's Dream and "Vive la Quinte Brigada".
It should have been an enjoyable concert for Christy - having begun at 5 p.m., he could leave the stage already at 7 p.m. - he surely does not often "welcome to this afternoon's cabaret". Without doubt the audience did not regret their choice to go to the "Tanzbrunnen" (= "dancing well") instead of going to the swimming pool.
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