At Christy Moore’s Royal Festival Hall performance in The Southbank Centre, he admits that when he first started playing live shows in London, the venues were a little less glamorous, and payment was usually in pints rather than pounds.
Four decades later, and with a pint of water now his choice of poison, Moore, along with Declan Synott, can still deliver a show that packs a punch. Moore’s biggest talent on the live circuit, is his ability in keeping with the tradition of folk music’s anecdotal practice. With each song, many of which he either borrows or covers from other artists, he shares with the audience various background stories that come with jokes, history lessons and social commentaries on a number of issues.
The set list brings the audience through heartache and loneliness in numbers such as ‘Quiet Desperation’ and ‘Ride On’, while ‘Missing You’, ‘City of Chicago’, and ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’ seem perhaps as poignant as ever to a crowd full of Irish immigrants both young and old.
With a long career stacking up behind him, Moore gets to pick a set list that includes songs from: Planxty, Moving Hearts, his own solo career, various traditional songs, and two Dylan covers.
As the night comes to a close he dedicates ‘Victor Jara’ (a song about a poet and communist who was murdered in Chile in 1973) to Baroness Thatcher and the late Augusto Pinochet.
Even amid all the serious political rhetoric and sorrow, Moore still has the ability to lighten the mood and banter with the audience, though the hecklers, much to the annoyance of both Moore himself and the audience, seem more intent on drowning him out than actually hearing the songs. On all fronts tonight, Moore delivered. He leaves with a standing ovation to a crowd who know they have witnessed something special.