“I once did a song about a lady wearing a particular colour. Can’t remember which colour now… Anyway, this song was the sequel to it” No prizes for guessing that the original song was ‘Lady in Red’ and the man in front of us on a cloud covered Kunstrasen stage was an Irishman named Chris de Burgh. Did it rain? It did. Could he stop it raining? No he couldn’t. Could he make us forget it was raining? Well, he did his best.
With a weather forecast of showers, and a seated out in the open arena, it seemed as if the promoters were playing with the Gods. In answer there was the first downpour of the day only a half hour before showtime. It seemed though that a pact had been made with Zeuss and Co, because a ten minute delay was met, after exactly ten minutes, by the sky ceasing to leak raindrops.
An early hit among the drying rain capes and pac-a-macs seated before me was the aforementioned sequel to THAT song and it has to be said ‘Five past dreams’ steals a lot musically and lyrically from THAT hit. ‘Sailing Away’ got everyone singing along in the way that any song using the word ‘sailing’ seems to achieve. Curious but true. You can’t beat a good verb ending in ‘ing’ for stirring emotion.
‘One man band’ for the evening was Musical Director Nigel Hopkins who did an excellent job to the point where I kept trying to look round the edge of the stage for a drummer, and even a violin or three during ‘Don’t Cry for Me’. Even so I missed the extra edge of a full band . The plus side of this though was of course that the songs themselves became the stars. De Burgh the pop singer became de Burgh the Folk Singer. It’s something that actually worked very well at times as on ‘The ghost of Old King Richard’ inspired by de Burgh’s childhood living in a dilapidated Irish castle (a haunted one of course) and again on ‘Love of the Heart Divine’ from 1999’s ‘Quiet Revolution’ disc.
In these troubled and violent times the number that brought most applause eaerly on though was ‘My anti-war song’ as he himself described ‘Borderline’. “If only humans would realise love was so much better than hate” de Burgh remarked to loud applause. It also had my lyric of the day in it:
“Walking past the border guards
Reaching for her hand
Showing no emotion
I want to break into a run
But these are only boys, and I will never know
How men can see the wisdom in a war”
There’s a strong hint of trenches and Wilfred Owen in there for me – Old men making rules for which young men pay the consequences. Whatever, it brought well deserved applause.
With a song titled ‘Waiting for the Hurricane’ we were clearly asking the Gods for retribution and sure enough it started raining again. Singing about ‘Summer Rain’ didn’t improve things either. Instead of playing one section of audience’s vocals against another the game became who could raise their umbrellas the highest. When finally de Burgh himself left the stage to return with a leather jacket it was clear the Gods had won. Even in the rain though who could leave a Chris de Burgh concert without hearing THAT song? It did of course come late in the set – although not right at the end. As did ‘Don’t pay the Ferryman’’. Finally then everyone went home happy, if a little wet.
Ultimately then Chris de Burgh didn’t quite make us forget it was raining but the pared down arrangements did indeed show that the Man has so much more of a musical legacy than THAT song about a Lady and a colour he can’t remember anymore…