A musical Surprise

Usually when I go to see a band or performer, I’m familiar with their music and know what to expect. Sometimes I’m too familiar if I’ve seen that performer so many times, and can predict the next song by the tuning of the guitar! That wasn’t the case when Nicky and I went to see John Prine in Derry on Friday. I got him tickets for Christmas, and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about him really. I knew that Josh Ritter was heavily influenced by his music and song-writing, so chances are I would like him, and of course I did.

The gig began with some songs by Philip Donnelley. Imagine Bob Dylan singing while holding his nose, and you get the idea. During the interval I was really wondering what sort of evening to expect, but after a few minutes of hearing John Prine and his two accompanying musicians on stage, I knew I was going to really enjoy this gig. Prine had throat cancer in 1998, resulting in a gravelly voice ever since, and by the end of the first song I was wondering how he was going to make it through an intire performance. He played for two hours, and although he sounded strained at times, he was fantastic. I’d imagine him to be a great story-teller, but I think maybe he was saving his voice for the songs. He was polite and humorous, and seemed to enjoy being on stage. The audience had his attention from the beginning, and seemed very respectful towards him, giving a long applause after he left the stage for the final time I imagined it to be more country than it was, and since I prefer folk music it suited me perfect. The guitars sounded fantastic! I’ll try and find a set list and put it in the comments section. .

I couldn’t help wishing I’d heard John Prine play years ago when his voice was stronger. I knew about eight songs, which was more than I thought I did, and I’m looking forward to buying some albums. In a strange way, its good that I’ve seen him play live now and can go and discover the recorded music and enjoy it.
Its nice when you buy someone a present and enjoy it just as much as they do 🙂

On the subject of music, RTE Radio 1 broadcast a documentary about Fergus O’Farrell from Interference yesterday. Its definitely worth a listen. I found his attitude and outlook on life very inspirational.


13 thoughts on “A musical Surprise

  1. Glad you enjoyed the show Jen. I was with my brother so didn’t hang about so long, though i did have a look round but couldn’t see you. Was nearly going to shout “Here OJ” to see what might happen 🙂 Love JP’s writing – real depth in it, and humour too. Liked the way when he forgot a few words the audience knew the songs and sang on for him. He has a lot of live CDs so hopefully you’ll pick up something that will remind you of the gig. Pity we didn’t get to chat.Best wishes to Nicky too.

  2. John, we didn’t bring the dogs because my aunt was bringing us home and there was no room for them. Was hoping we’d see you but we were up the back so I was thinking it wouldn’t happen 😦

    Beth I knew you wrote about John Prine not that long ago. Must reread that post again. Good people must come from that part of the world.

  3. Was up in the circle and looked for you more towards the front.Glad you enjoyed the gig anyhow. Setlist was:
    1.Spanish Pipedream
    2.Sweet Revenge
    3.Humidity Built the Snowman
    4.Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
    5.Six O’Clock News
    6.Souvenirs (for his mother in law from Donegal)
    7.Grandpa Was A Carpenter
    8.Storm Windows
    9.Christmas In Prison
    10.Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
    11.Fish and Whistle
    12.Crazy As A Loon
    13.The Glory Of True Love
    14.Angel From Montgomery
    15.You Got Gold
    16.In Spite of Ourselves
    17.Hello In There
    18. Sam Stone
    19.Bear Creek
    20.Lake Marie
    Encore (with Philip Donnelly)
    21.Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness

      • John, it was a pity we didn’t see you but the gig was great. John’s voice became laboured at times and its a pity about that as I would say its hard for him. He had complete respect from the audiance and that was well deserved. There is good sound in that theatre as we were up the back as Jennifer has already said. Is his current wife Irish then? I wasn’t sure if he was messing or not about his mother in law and relatives being at the concert. Hopefully we will say hi at another gig soon.

  4. Yeah Nicky – his current wife is from Donegal. I think they have a house in Galway that they stay in some of the year. Like that phrase “current” wife – hope Jen doesn’t read that lol. Nice sound in the theatre but very officious staff – they patrol up and down flashing torches at anyone who lifts a camera or phone – bit too strict in my opinion, but i know they treated you, Jen and the boys well so i believe its a management thing and they are just following orders. JP keeps a couple of bottles of cough mixture at the back of the stage and has a couple of drinks from it during the show. Not a bad voice for a guy who had throat cancer and seems a really genuine down to earth guy.

    • Ah John, ya can’t really go wrong with the Donegal girls now can ya? 🙂 I didn’t realise that the staff were so strict but maybe they need to be. I know that at all concerts you will hear the standard messages about no photography

  5. You weren’t far wrong about JP’s voice being a bit strained – had to cancel his shows in Norway and Sweden last weekend due to flu and exhaustion. I was at Gretchen Peters gig in Limavady last Saturday – try her “Five Minutes” song on YouTube – it’s like a novel there’s so much of a story in it 🙂

  6. Glad you enjoyed John Prine. I saw him many, many years ago at Brooklyn College and several times after and just love his music, the messages in his music and glad he’s still around.!

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