Warning: long, rambling, and clumsily written review ahead. I obviously still have progress to make in review writing! Thanks for bearing with me.
Chris de Burgh gave us a delightful solo show in Lausanne last night, armed with only his guitar, his piano and his songs (ok, with a very small dose of recorded choirs and stuff for a couple of songs).
The show started with The Road to Freedom, title song from his latest album, and continued for two and a half hours, including songs from a variety of albums. I was happy to hear It’s Such a Long Way Home, from the album Crusader, pretty early on in the show. Crusader is one of the first Chris de Burgh albums I actually owned, way back in the time of vinyl, and it’s an album I appreciate a lot.
Chris de Burgh introduced many of the songs he sang by giving the audience some background on them, often half in French and half in English. (We also got updates on the score for the ongoing Russia-Portual football match, which I found pretty cool — even if I don’t care about football at all.) Last Night (a personal favorite), a song about the damages of war, for the young soldiers who come back, and those who remain when they don’t, was an occasion to comment on actuality:
Maybe Mr. Bush will think about this next time he wants to go to war. Right on the theme of war and its ills, Chris de Burgh later sang Borderline followed by Say Goodbye to It All — something I’d really been waiting for, as the second was written as a sequel to the first one.
Speaking of sequels, Lady in Red (a song you probably know even if you’ve never heard about Chris de Burgh, and that you might also understandably be sick of hearing too much on the radio) has a sequel in the latest album: Five Past Dreams. Before singing it, he told us about this strange fact: women spend a lot of time making themselves beautiful before going out, but men seem incapable of remembering what they were wearing. Lady in Red is about this man who is a party, and is looking at this beautiful woman in the crowd… and suddenly realises that it’s the woman he came with…
After poking a bit of fun at Britney and playback singers, Chris de Burgh put on a headset mike and actually got off stage with his guitar to walk through the public and shake hands while he sang a medley. Pretty impressive, if you ask me!
One great present of this evening for me was hearing the song Sailor again. Sailor is a song from the album Eastern Wind, which, along with The Getaway and Man on the Line, made me discover Chris de Burgh nearly twenty years ago. I remember the time when I listened to this song over and over again — it was one of those spine-prickling songs for me. And when Chris de Burgh started singing it tonight, I realised that I had totally forgotten it existed. I was incapable of naming it until he reached the chorus — something which hardly ever happens to me, as I have a pretty spooky memory for names.
I won’t go through all the songs which were sung. Imagine how many songs can be sung in two and a half hours, even with a fair amount of chatting en between! However, I’d like to mention one that I found particularly moving: Songbird, written after Chris de Burgh heard Eva Cassidy singing on the radio. Unknown in her lifetime, she died of cancer at the age of thirty-three, and it is said she had one of the most wonderful singing voices ever heard.
To sum it up, this show was a real treat. Chris de Burgh was the first artist I ever got to see live, almost twenty years ago, and I have trouble understanding how I let all those years pass without seeing him again. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for his next tour.
My friend Rachel, who accompanied me, knew only two Chris de Burgh songs (the inevitable Lady in Red and High on Emotion, but of course she had no idea who sang those songs), but she had a really great time too. I think that like me, she was moved by how very human and close to the public Chris de Burgh is. It seems to me (and the notes you can read in the Ask Chris section on his official website seems to confirm this) that he really has a sincere belief in his work — thirty years after his first album.
As I was saying to Steph a few hours ago:
I like artists that look like human beings. If you have a chance to see Chris de Burgh live, do so — particularly if all you know of him is Lady in Red!
For the curious, here is a list of the songs I didn’t mention here but that I remember from the show:
- Don’t Pay the Ferryman
- Living On The Island
- Sight and Touch
- Sailing Away
- St Peter’s Gate
- Lebanese Night
- High on Emotion
- Natasha Dance
- medley: Carry Me (?), Save Me, Tender Hands, Crying and Laughing…
- Snows of New York
- Where Peaceful Waters Flow
- Nothing Ever Happens Round Here
- Rain in Paris (the only song I did not know)
- new album: The Words I Love You, Five Past Dreams, Snow is Falling, Read My Name, The Journey, Here For You (?)
Update 24.06.04: I’ve been thinking quite a lot these last days about why I like this singer so much, and why I’ve stuck with him for the last 20 years. Here is something he says about feeling what he sings that I really like:
When I sing, I like to convey a total and absolute honest belief in what I am singing. It’s very important for me to convey an emotion, and unless you feel that emotion, you can’t convey it. It’s my belief. So when I sing, I wear the song like a coat, I try to convey everything that I put into it initially. All the ideas, all the feelings, all the emotions.
Chris de Burgh
If you’ve listened to his songs a bit, I think you’ll agree with me that this is a man who seems to know what it is to love.