A night for Moore 
Author: Bruce Elder 
Date: 1993-3-29  
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald 

It was a measure of the extraordinary musicality of this concert that when the entire ensemble of 15 musicians came together in the encore to sing The Wild Mountain Thyme, it was the non-singing comedian, Brcn-dan Grace, who took the first vocal solo -and, to the surprise of most of the people in the audience, he had a great voice.

That was pretty much the spirit and quality of the evening. This was, on one hand, a night of blarney, fiddles, uilcann pipes, songs about immigration and lots of exuberant jigs and reels. But, on another level, it demonstrated that Irish folk music is still a living, breathing entity, it is not marginalised. It is still an integral part of the popular music and contemporary culture of Ireland.

The concert rose in a continuous crescendo. Barleycorn, a competent Irish pub band with strong local support, opened. They were followed by Stocktons Wing, an accomplished group which combine contemporary songs with traditional instrumental numbers.

After interval Kicran Goss and Frances Black (who sounds disarmingly like an Irish version of the US country singer Nanci Griffith) were followed by the Instrumental trio of Donal Lunny (bouzouki), Davy Spillane (uileann pipes) and Nollaig Casey (fiddle).

Still, for all the talent which had preceded him, the night belonged to Christy Moore. Put Moore into the larger context of four hours of Irish music and, if it's possible, his talent becomes even more impressive. Like some musical colossus, Moore towers over those around him. His impeccable choice of material (a mixture of

contemporary songs, traditional material and his own compositions), his emotional intensity, his understanding of the power of musical light and shade, his vocal range which can effortlessly move from the melancholy of Irish Ways and Irish Laws to the exuberant Don't Forget Your Shovel and the sparscness of his on-stagc image (a man dressed entirely in black against a black background), all combine to make him an extraordinary performer. Nowhere was this more powerfully demonstrated than on his current version of The Well Below The Valley, Moore originally recorded this strange talc - with its echoes of Jesus at the well and its suggestions of incest - with Planxty back in 1973. At the time it was a slow, haunting ballad. Now Moore, accompanying himself with some of the most ferocious and passionate bodhran playing imaginable, has turned it into a dark tour dc force.

The highlight of the night was the partial re-formation of the great Irish experimental folk group, Moving Hearts. To see Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Davy Spillane together (with Nollaig Casey) mixing bouzouki, uileann pipes, fiddle and guitar on Planxty's Raggle Taggle Gypsy was, albeit at one removed, to experience one of Ireland's greatest living folk-musk line-ups.

They followed it with the haunting Ride On, with Donal Lunny moving to keyboards, before calling the other musicians on stage for a rousing version of Moore's Lisdoonvarna, a great torrent of words celebrating one of Ireland's most famous musical festivals.

Watching this spectacular array of talent, it was tempting to try to reverse the process and imagine what sort of music we could send, in an ambassadorial role, to Ireland and who, amongst our local Industries, would be prepared to sponsor it? Maybe stout and song are the exclusive preserve of the Irish.