The Dubliners in a dirty old town

They could be prescribed by GPs. In fact, they should be prescribed, if we could be sure the Dubliners themselves are up to it. Two of them are already performing sitting down, which didn’t stop Sean suggesting the audience should jig or waltz or even reel in the aisles. Not enough aisle space at the Lowry for too much of that, or we would have.

I was curious, because I distinctly remembered how calm they made me feel last time I saw them, four years ago. I wanted to see if the feeling could be repeated. It could, if calm isn’t the wrong thing to feel after some rousing Irish songs? It’s the feeling you get when you know you are in capable hands and that someone knows what they are doing. John started off by saying they weren’t ready, but they did pretty well on automatic, which is to be expected after 49 years.

Patsy, the baby of this group of grey-haired and bearded men was actually milling about in the foyer when I arrived. So was Eamonn, but he milled slightly less. You somehow don’t expect the star turns to take turns in the public areas of a venue. Saw no fans prostrate themselves at anybody’s feet, so either the audience’s eyesight is failing or they are mature enough not to.

But they can sing! The audience, I mean. We almost didn’t need the Dubliners, seeing as once they started people off the audience sang long and well, which you rarely get in this age of the computer.

The Dublin boys don’t sing badly, either. And he might be the newbie, but I do like Patsy’s voice. He’s no Luke Kelly, but why should he be? (How a boy can be called Patsy, on the other hand, is one of life’s mysteries, which I won’t deal with here.)

Barney roused himself sufficiently to sing his own style sea shanties and love songs. He must also have kissed the Barney stone at some point, as there appeared to be no off-button for his monologues. At one point I feared Eamonn had fallen asleep while waiting for Barney to finish, but he woke up swiftly enough when it was time to play. And the audience loves Barney. We’ll wrap him in that oilskin, I imagine, if the need should arise.

John is a bit of a poet and I think we had three poems from him in the end. He writes poems about his dead Dubliners pals, which are moving and funny in that very Irish way. His tune in honour of St Patrick’s cathedral is lovely. He strikes me as the Daddy of the group, and he encouraged us to buy CDs and anything else, so that they can support their large families.

Sorry John, but I didn’t. I don’t think anything can match that Auld Triangle song just before the interval. It has to be live, but you can come round to my house and sing it anytime. Anytime.

Two local songs, with not just the Manchester Rambler but the old stalwart, Dirty Old Town, which as someone pointed out as we left, could hardly be more appropriate than at the Lowry. So true.

Two encores before Barney and co shuffled out into the night. With so many grand Irish songs to choose from, it’s hard to see what they should pick to finish with. Molly Malone worked well. Even my Resident IT Consultant sang, loudly and badly. That rarely happens. The singing, that is. The badly always happens.

So, these five old boys, fully dressed and with not a single bare tummy in sight, and with such simple stage lighting that all I could think was ‘why doesn’t everyone stick with this?’, were exactly what the doctor should order. A wonderful night out, and let’s hope we are all here for their 50th next year.

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