Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blaze Away at Glór

'My name is Josef Locke
God bless all here and state your pleasure

If you'll refill my glass I'll sing Ave Maria
I'll sing The Old Bog Road or A Shawl of Galway Grey

And I've been gone from you for some while
Those English tax men they've cramped my style

And if you think I'm some fraud upstart
Just let my voice be my calling card

It melted hearts, and royal teardrops fell
They loved me well, they loved me well

                                               Richard Thompson

Late Late Tribute Show 1984

Folk singer, Martin Carty in a recent memorable Desert Island Discs interview told a terrific yarn about an encounter with the tenor Josef Locke, immortalised in lines of a song by Richard Thompson quoted above.Most people of my generation have come to know something of the legendary  tenor  through the 1991 film Hear My Song but my first memory of hearing the Derry man  was on a Late Late tribute show in 1984 when he sang Phil Coulter's bitter sweet paean to their home town as I had never heard it sung before and it remains for me the definitive version of the song. My Name is Josef Locke sung by Norma Waterson 

Gumbleton Productions brought their ribute show 'Blaze Away '  devised and directed by Cathal McCabe chronicling the life of Josef Locke in song to Glór, Ennis tonight.  A team of five performers included musical director Michael Casey at the keyboard, Frank Ryan tenor, soprano Linda Kenny, actors Kevin Hough and Joe O Gorman.  The plot device is a sort of surreal version of This is Your Life with a ghost of Josef Locke played by O Gorman  looking on and commenting on Kevin Hough's warts and all narration of the story of his life punctuated with songs from Kenny and Ryan and occasionally O Gorman. The approach was not unlike that of When Jolie met Christy with a character from beyond the grave interacting with an earth bound narrator.  I love this sentimental repertoire of parlour songs and light operatic gems and enjoyed this  production.  A particular strength was the skilful support on piano by Michael Casey always sympathetic and never overpowering. I was baffled then as to why backing tracks were used for several of the numbers particularly for Ms Kenny's selections.  Even with a lesser accompanist than one of Mr Casey's skill, I felt  live accompaniment would have  served the singers  better.  

Given the element of nostalgia in the endeavour,  it would have enhanced the production to have some archive images of Locke ,  memorabilia  of the Blackpool years etc. projected behind the performers to add  to  the narrative. Fashionistas will particular enjoy Ms Kenny's gorgeous stage wardrobe in glittering colours. 

There are a few more dates on the tour. Watch out for them  Well worth seeing.
Cast Blaze Away 

A sweeter age it was that loved me well
They loved me well'   R Thompson 

Venue Note Glór  stage is a very large space and I would rather  have seen the performers placed on the floor closer to their audience  to create a more intimate cabaret setting and better establish the rapport with the audience. 

Set List 
Ritorna a Sorrento                         Blaze Away
Toselli's Serenade                         Glocca Mara
Lili Marlene                                   Hear My Song
Love's Last Word is Spoken           Bless This House 
O Mio Babino Caro                        Harbour Lights 
M'Appari                                       I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
Will You Remember(Sweetheart)    Lover Come Back to Me 
The Lights of Home                       Everybody Loves a Lover 
Now is the Hour                            Old Bog Road
Le Reve Passe                              Yours 
                                                    Santa Lucia
                                                    The Rest of the World Go By
                                                    The Town I Loved So Well
                                                    Goodbye White Horse Inn 

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