Playing a current European Tour, it’s Birmingham that greets The Dubliners on this fine St Patrick’s evening.
The Dubliners are an Irish Folk group found in 1962, originally stared in O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin with members Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Barney McKenna. Tonight it’s only Barney McKenna that appears onstage of these pioneers.
Appearing as part of their 50 year anniversary tour, the Town Hall is full tonight with the older generation, ready for sing-alongs of drunken friendships and more innocent times. The evening also acts a chance to remember past members, as the current Dubliners sing along with on screen version of their deceased friends, such as the opening number ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ with the vocals being sung by Ronnie Drew in a reminiscent style of respect and honesty.
The current line up performs the with a passion and warmth after all this time. The use of a rear projector behind them shows pictures of The Dubliners throughout the years, highlighting the changes that this band has undergone over time. But it’s certain that the music hasn’t changed. It’s often broken up by speeches and tales of past drunken times, short laments or instrumentals on a fiddle. The comedy factor tonight is provided by Barry McKenna, who has a very warm and loving persona, with his voice and talents still stepping up to the mark. Standout moment of the evening is in fact I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me, sung by Barry, which proves very emotional bringing visible tears to certain members of the audience.
Eamonn Campbell joined the band in 1987, and tonight plays guitar for the most part, refraining from talking too much, but shows himself very capable in his ability to play. John Sheahan tonight acts as compare, whilst reading poems in tribute to past members, then within songs focussing mainly on the fiddle. Sean Cannon has been lead vocalist and guitarist of The Dubliners since 1982, and displays an immense singing talent tonight, whilst also being the focal point through the occasion. Finally, Patsy Watchorn played the banjo and spoons this evening, throwing a dance in every now and then.
Tonight poems are read in memory of Ronnie, Luke and Ciaran being the original members, as I think The Dubliners know the history they have to live up to, and it’s more a group of friends who go around drinking and playing music than an intense touring machine with profit on the mind. And that’s why tonight was so good. It had heart, it had friendship, it had whiskey, but most of all it has songs.
Barney, John, Seán, Eamonn, Patsy
Reviewer: Dan Earl
Photographer: Ken Harrison.