Chris de Burgh live in Stuttgart

Chris de Burgh? Again? Yes, indeed. The current tour features two old albums instead of a new one. The first set of the show consisted of the Moonfleet songs. “Moonfleet & Other Stories” is among de Burgh’s best albums. The first half of the concert featured the thirteen tracks that tell the story of the novel “Moonfleet” (from 1898). After the taped symphonic overture, the band began with a very pleasant volume level. The Beethoven-Saal in the Liederhalle was sold out. The audience cheered and was given a wild ride with smugglers, betrayal, storms, love, friendship etc. Of course, Chris de Burgh is not a wild performer. He’s a storyteller. A superb light show augmented the performance without distracting from the music. There were the rocking songs and the emphatic ballads. There was a shanty and a dramatic middle part. In short, there was everything that makes Chris de Burgh Chris de Burgh. I loved every minute of the set.

After the intermission it was time for another album set. “Into the Light” has sold more copies than any other album by de Burgh. “Borderline” was thrown in for good measure, right before the sequel “Say Goodbye to It All”. A few songs felt slightly too out of date. It’s not 1986 anymore. Still, the synth sounds and the relentless catchiness were thrilling. “The Ballroom of Romance” was particularly groovy. “The Lady in Red” was held back until after “The Leader” trilogy and a couple of solo songs. From then on, the audience stood on their feet. Everybody had a good time with all-time classics such as “Missing You”, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” and “High on Emotion”. The long notes were sung a bit shorter than 30 years ago, but apart from that it was a flawless performance from start to finish. Lots of songs were played that hadn’t been on the setlist for quite some time (or ever). Sure, the encore was all ballads. Still, the audience got 2.5 hours of music. The applause was roaring by the time the band left the stage for good. Below is the setlist from Stuttgart (30th October 2019).

  1. The Light on the Bay
  2. Have a Care
  3. Go Where Your Heart Believes
  4. The Escape
  5. The Days of Our Age
  6. The Secret of the Locket
  7. My Heart’s Surrender
  8. Treasure and Betrayal
  9. Moonfleet Bay
  10. The Storm
  11. Greater Love
  12. The Moonfleet Finale
  13. Last Night
  14. Fire on the Water
  15. The Ballroom of Romance
  16. Borderline
  17. Say Goodbye to It All
  18. The Spirit of Man
  19. Fatal Hesitation
  20. One Word (Straight to the Heart)
  21. For Rosanna
  22. The Leader
  23. The Vision
  24. What About Me?
  25. There Goes My Heart Again
  26. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  27. The Lady in Red
  28. Africa
  29. Missing You
  30. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  31. High on Emotion
  32. The Snows of New York
  33. The Moonfleet Finale

Chris de Burgh live in Mannheim

Perhaps the most magnificent element of the Chris de Burgh concert in Mannheim last Tuesday was the perfect sound mix. Unlike most live concerts, it wasn’t too loud. The vocals were crystal clear, the bass present but never obnoxious, the drums a piece of the puzzle instead of a bulldozer driving all across the puzzle. The acoustics of the Mozartsaal certainly helped transporting the sound to the audience’s ears. The light show was inventive but again never distracting from the actual star of the show: the music. Sure, some fans might indulge in seeing Chris de Burgh. I, however, was there for the music. Once again, the setlist (see below for pic and details) contained a balanced mixture of old and new material. There were plenty of songs that hadn’t been played for many years; there were the inevitable classics; there were seven songs off the new album “The Hands of Man” – some great (like “Where Would I Be?”), the rest at least good; there were other songs that were neither classics nor obscurities – “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, “The Spirit of Man”, “The Same Sun”.

The mood was good on stage as well as in front of the stage. In addition to the usual presents (flowers, wine) Chris also got tomato soup. The first few songs were presented without comment. Later on, the banter between songs grew longer. It was generally filled with thankfulness and a bit of wit. In my opinion, the only flaw was the use of click tracks and samples during some of the band songs. Don’t get me wrong, “Go Where Your Heart Believes” sounded brilliant with those strings. It just made the show seem a bit like a TV show rather than a live show. I’m sure the band could have easily played the songs without additional help. I still enjoyed the songs, of course, even with the diminished tempo dynamics. As for the highlights, there were plenty.

“Transmission Ends” was wonderful, “Say Goodbye to It All” made me cry, the acoustic session proved that the players on stage don’t need to rely on backing tracks. And the solo section with “Carry Me”, “Borderline”, and “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” demonstrated that Chris de Burgh is still very much an amazing singer, musician, and performer. Then there was the cheesy synth sound in “Man on the Line” (awesome!). “Spanish Train” and “A Spaceman Came Travelling” were a blast from the past that got lots of applause. And for the encore, “Patricia the Stripper” made an (acoustic) appearance!

This was my fourth Chris de Burgh concert. Once again, the Irish singer delivered a fresh performance with just a few inevitable repetitions (which, by the way, haven’t lost any of their appeal – “don’t do it!”). And not only did he cover most periods of his career, the fans embraced pretty much every song with equal appreciation. The “cost” of this is probably a slightly smaller audience (the hall was pretty much sold out with maybe 1,700 people) compared with the draw of a pure best of program. The ticket prices were rather steep, so you certainly won’t find me at another concert of the current tour. Yet, from a musical and emotional perspective, it was an excellent show, sincere, uplifting, thoughtful, moving, and towards the end even rocking.

Setlist Chris de Burgh Mannheim (2015-05-26)

  1. The Hands of Man
  2. Big City Sundays
  3. The Light on the Bay
  4. Have a Care
  5. Go Where Your Heart Believes
  6. The Candlestick
  7. Ship to Shore
  8. The Same Sun
  9. Spanish Train
  10. Through These Eyes
  11. Transmission Ends
  12. A Spaceman Came Travelling
  13. Man on the Line
  14. Missing You (acoustic)
  15. Pure Joy (acoustic)
  16. Love of the Heart Divine (acoustic)
  17. There Goes My Heart Again (acoustic)
  18. Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)
  19. Borderline
  20. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  21. Where Would I Be?
  22. The Words “I Love You”
  23. The Keeper of the Keys
  24. The Lady in Red
  25. Africa
  26. The Spirit of Man
  27. Say Goodbye to It All
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. Patricia the Stripper
  31. The Moonfleet Finale

Chris de Burgh live in Trier (2013-04-05)

The concert was the first of the current tour, so the setlist was a complete surprise to everybody. Once again, Chris de Burgh had compiled a nice mix of old and new tracks. I really like how he brings back different older songs every tour. He also presented a new song, The Fields of Agincourt. It was in the vein of his battle songs with various moods that culminated in a forte ending. The audience was attentive and rather relaxed, especially towards the end. I especially enjoyed the Moonfleet songs and The Ballroom of Romance. The cover songs worked surprisingly well and brightened the atmosphere even further. Brother John felt a bit out of place; and The Mirror of the Soul and Bal Masqué had already been played four years ago at the same place. Anyway, it was a pleasant concert with a solid band performance and De Burgh’s impressive voice.

  1. Waiting for the Hurricane
  2. The Spirit of Man
  3. Up Here in Heaven
  4. Missing You
  5. The Traveller
  6. Ship to Shore
  7. The Mirror of the Soul
  8. The Same Sun
  9. The Escape
  10. Greater Love
  11. Already There
  12. The Fields of Agincourt
  13. Tender Hands
  14. Living on the Island
  15. Love and Time
  16. Summer Rain
  17. I’m Not Scared Anymore
  18. Borderline
  19. The Ballroom of Romance
  20. The Lady in Red
  21. Blue Bayou
  22. Let It Be
  23. Lady Madonna
  24. Long Train Running
  25. Africa
  26. Brother John
  27. Bal Masqué
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. The Snows of New York
  31. The Moonfleet Finale

My Chris de Burgh Dream Setlist

I’m going to see Chris de Burgh live today in Trier. There’s not really a new album to promote, although I suspect that Footsteps 2 will be featured to a certain degree. Anyway, I just jotted down my dream setlist – simply for fun. I tried to make it somewhat realistic, knowing very well that he won’t play most of the songs. I mean, he just has too many great songs in his back catalogue.

  1. The Storyman Theme (Intro)
  2. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  3. Waiting for the Hurricane
  4. Eastern Wind
  5. Lonely Sky
  6. In a Country Churchyard
  7. We Can Work It Out
  8. People of the World
  9. The Revolution
  10. Light a Fire
  11. Liberty
  12. Borderline
  13. Say Goodbye to It All
  14. Love and Time
  15. There’s a New Star Up in Heaven Tonight
  16. The Lady in Red
  17. Africa
  18. Timing Is Everything
  19. Don’t Look Back
  20. The Storm
  21. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  22. High on Emotion
  23. Read My Name
  24. Crusader (Encore 1)
  25. Transmission Ends (Encore 2)

Chris de Burgh live in Bamberg

Maybe the most impressive feature of the concert in Bamberg (29th August 2012) was the sound. Live concerts tend to be loud and more often than not individual voices are lost in the mix. Not so here. The sound was crystal clear, yet warm and chiming. No pounding drums, no thundering bass, no screeching guitars, no dominant keyboards – just music. The venue was filled with melodies and, of course, Chris de Burgh‘s strong voice. He appeared on stage shortly after 8 pm and received a lot of applause. The first two songs – “First Steps” and “Fatal Hesitation” – seemed to me a bit like a warming up. It was the next song, “Sailing Away”, that really grabbed me, possibly because it was pretty much the first de Burgh song I consciously heard, back in 1990 as a 10 year old boy when my parents watched the Live in Dublin VHS tape.

The solo versions of the songs lacked extensive solo parts – which was a good thing, if you ask me. There were no excessive sing along parts, no fancy song intros; we got “pure” Chris de Burgh. There were a lot of ballads on the setlist, which was fine with me. “Love and Time” worked very well in the new arrangement and “Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)” was just soo beautiful. There were a couple of songs I found less engaging, like “It’s Such a Long Way Home” and “Oh My Brave Hearts”. The latter one is just rehashing “The Revolution” in my opinion. Thankfully, “The Revolution / Light a Fire” was played, eventually. I had seen some of the previous setlists online, so I wasn’t completely surprised by the setlist. Still, the songs that were requested specifically in Bamberg (e.g. “In Love Forever”) were pleasant surprises. I’m so glad this tour takes place, because as much as a “regular” concert can be entertaining, the “immediateness”, the anything-goes aspect made this evening unique. Chris also told us that he had learned a new phrase in German: “Die Küche ist geschlossen.”

He was in a good mood and had no trouble at all entertaining 1200 people for about 2.5 hours straight. It was clear that he couldn’t play all requests; and personally I would have liked to hear any other song from Moonfleet (great album) than the two he played (“Pure Joy”, “Everywhere I Go”). But I’m not complaining. There were so many great songs (“The Road to Freedom”, “In a Country Churchyard”, “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, “Waiting for the Hurricane”, “The Girl With April in Her Eyes”) from almost all albums, I rarely stopped smiling. A particular highlight this time around (itwas only my second Chris de Burgh concert after Trier 2009) was “Say Goodbye to It All”. It was preceded by “Borderline”, which sounded good, but cheesier than necessary due to the e-piano-strings. The all piano version of “Say Goodbye to It All” gave the song a fresh feeling, made it less repetitive and, well, I enjoyed it immensely. I was surprised how well “A Woman’s Heart” worked as a dancing song. The funniest part of the evening was probably when he sang the line “the perfect man” and hinted at himself with a grin.

The performance was spot on and certainly not something you get to see every day (or even every year). I don’t think it resembled the early days of Chris’ career, when he had to struggle with sound, lighting and (Supertramp) stage managers. Still, it showed the essence of the music as well as the charming personality of the man way better than any fancy stadium show could ever do. My seat in row 2 had cost more than 80 Euros, which was quite expensive in my opinion. Then again, there were hardly any empty seats in the room, so it all comes down to supply and demand. And this evening wasn’t about economics, but all about music and stories. And I had a great evening!

Chris de Burgh live in Bamberg 2012

  1. First Steps
  2. Fatal Hesitation
  3. Sailing Away
  4. Missing You
  5. Here Is Your Paradise
  6. It’s Such a Long Way Home
  7. In Love Forever
  8. Tender Hands
  9. Songbird
  10. Pure Joy
  11. Borderline
  12. Say Goodbye to It All
  13. The Road to Freedom
  14. Sailor
  15. Oh My Brave Hearts
  16. Waiting for the Hurricane
  17. In the Ghetto
  18. Love and Time
  19. Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)
  20. The Girl With April in Her Eyes
  21. Spirit
  22. In a Country Churchyard
  23. The Lady in Red
  24. The Revolution / Light a Fire
  25. Everywhere I Go
  26. A Woman’s Heart
  27. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. Those Were the Days
  31. The Snows of New York
  32. Goodnight

Your Favourite Chris de Burgh Song According to Facebook

What’s your favourite Chris de Burgh song of all time?

I fed the responses into Stata, removed duplicate entries and cleaned up typos etc. – and here is the final list:

                             SONG TITLE |  VOTES
                        the lady in red |    138
                             borderline |     62
                          spanish train |     44
                in a country churchyard |     32
   carry me (like a fire in your heart) |     26
                 don't pay the ferryman |     26
             a spaceman came travelling |     25
                            missing you |     25
                  the snows of new york |     23
                  patricia the stripper |     20
             where peaceful waters flow |     19
                                 sailor |     17
                           the same sun |     17
                               crusader |     15
           go where your heart believes |     14
                             lonely sky |     13
                        separate tables |     13
                   the words i love you |     13
                   satin green shutters |     12
                        a woman's heart |     11
                            for rosanna |     11
                 the head and the heart |     11
                        high on emotion |     10
                             revolution |     10
                              the tower |     10
                      transmission ends |     10
                    diamond in the dark |      9
                       fatal hesitation |      9
        the girl with april in her eyes |      9
                      up here in heaven |      9
                  say goodbye to it all |      8
                  the last time i cried |      8
                           sailing away |      7
                    the road to freedom |      7
                          the traveller |      7
                  here is your paradise |      6
                       just a word away |      6
                         lebanese night |      6
                          natasha dance |      6
                    people of the world |      6
                          ship to shore |      6
                             the leader |      6
                               carry on |      5
                            forevermore |      5
                 i'm not scared anymore |      5
                    leather on my shoes |      5
               love of the heart divine |      5
                               songbird |      5
                            the journey |      5
                 a rainy night in paris |      4
                              discovery |      4
                           eastern wind |      4
                        everywhere i go |      4
                      fire on the water |      4
                           here for you |      4
                                hold on |      4
                           so beautiful |      4
                            the getaway |      4
                       the simple truth |      4
                   why mona lisa smiled |      4
                      always on my mind |      3
                           broken wings |      3
                                 flying |      3
                    i'm counting on you |      3
                             last night |      3
                   living on the island |      3
                    moonlight and vodka |      3
                            perfect day |      3
                           raging storm |      3
                           read my name |      3
                   something else again |      3
                 the mirror of the soul |      3
                           the storyman |      3
                           brother john |      2
                     every drop of rain |      2
                              footsteps |      2
                            have a care |      2
                      heart of darkness |      2
                       i love the night |      2
                         i'm going home |      2
            it's me and i'm ready to go |      2
                  just another poor boy |      2
                              leningrad |      2
                    love is my decision |      2
                        man on the line |      2
                          moonfleet bay |      2
                   my heart's surrender |      2
                             old friend |      2
                    one more mile to go |      2
                              one world |      2
                               pure joy |      2
                     saint peter's gate |      2
                          seven bridges |      2
                          suddenly love |      2
                           tender hands |      2
                the ballroom of romance |      2
                        the devil's eye |      2
                 the son and the father |      2
                    when i think of you |      2
                 where we will be going |      2
                you'll never walk alone |      2
                                 africa |      1
             all the love i have inside |      1
                        another rainbow |      1
                                 brazil |      1
                             by my side |      1
                    crying and laughing |      1
                              danny boy |      1
                        don't look back |      1
                  every step of the way |      1
                              goodnight |      1
                       hotel california |      1
                i'm not crying over you |      1
                        in love forever |      1
                              let it be |      1
                    much more than this |      1
                       my father's eyes |      1
                     oh my brave hearts |      1
                   old-fashioned people |      1
                      once upon in time |      1
       one word (straight to the heart) |      1
                    riding on a rainbow |      1
                        rose of england |      1
                      shadows and light |      1
             she means everything to me |      1
                               shine on |      1
                               sin city |      1
                        snow is falling |      1
                                    sos |      1
                                 spirit |      1
                   taking it to the top |      1
                  the grace of a dancer |      1
                            the painter |      1
                     the storyman theme |      1
there's a new star up in heaven tonight |      1
     there's room in this heart tonight |      1
                      this song for you |      1
                   timing is everything |      1
               two sides to every story |      1
              waiting for the hurricane |      1
what's a nice guy like you doing in a...|      1
                                  Total |    956

That’s 142 different songs! I’m surprised – in a very pleasant way – about the variety of choices: old, new, hits, epics, ballads, love, stories, history, loss, war, peace, family. I’m also surprised that “The Lady in Red” is such a clear winner. On the other end of the list you find my favourite song – or at least my favourite song title as I have never heard “What’s a Nice Guy Like You Doing in a Face Like That?” – of course, I’m glad that other fans mentioned almost all my semi-favourite songs (“Transmission Ends”! “Crusader”! “The Last Time I Cried”! “A Spaceman Came Travelling”! “The Same Sun”!).

Notes: When multiple songs were mentioned I took the first one (unless another one was clearly labelled as favourite). I deleted a couple of songs that didn’t sound like anything Chris de Burgh every performed. Another 23 people indicated that they couldn’t or wouldn’t make a decision. This list is based in the responses I could see with my account; no idea if that’s all. Oh, and here’s the album statistics:

                        album |   votes    no. of songs
               into the light |      208          10
                  the getaway |      135          10
                spanish train |      120          10
               flying colours |       61           9
          the road to freedom |       40           9
                 the storyman |       17           9
              man on the line |       40           8
                    moonfleet |       36           8
             the power of ten |       24           8
  at the end of a perfect day |       47           6
             quiet revolution |       43           6
                     crusader |       35           6
far beyond these castle walls |       21           5
                  this way up |       39           4
                 eastern wind |       29           4
         timing is everything |        9           4
             beautiful dreams |        7           4
                  footsteps 2 |        5           4
                    footsteps |        3           2
              (single tracks) |       10           5
               the love songs |       11           3
           (unreleased songs) |        3           3
                   best moves |        3           2
             spark to a flame |        9           1
        notes to planet earth |        1           1

Chris de Burgh live in Trier

On June 16th, 2009 Chris de Burgh played a concert at the Arena in Trier. I hadn’t seen him before live before, mainly because the tickets used to be somewhat expensive (especially considering travel expenses). This time I could walk to the venue and got a ticket for about 30 Euros. I sat in the last row of the “Innenraum”, right in front of the mixing desk. Needless to say, the sound was fantastic! (No ear plugs required.) The setlist offered a wide selection of classic hits, surprises and lots of songs from his latest album. The show lasted about 3.5 hours with a short intermission in between.

The audience (approx. 4000 people) appeared to have aged along with the singer on stage, so I felt pretty young. What sets Chris de Burgh apart from other artists is

  1. his voice: stunning, moving, strong, tender, amazing, unique, soaring;
  2. his songs: deceptive – ballads and catchiness were there, but also rock (“Making the Perfect Man”) and depth (“A Spaceman Came Travelling”); and
  3. his character: it’s impossible to not smile at his clumsy German stories, to not rejoice in his unconditional believe in the healing power of love, to not get touched by his pure love for music.

He played lots of songs I longed to hear (“Last Night”) and only few tracks I’d call boring (“The Mirror of the Soul”). Halfway through the concert, he sang “Borderline” without the rest of the band, accompanying himself on the piano. His hauntingly beautiful performance earned him frenetic applause that was well deserved. The one-hour long finale was filled with his great songs as well as a powerful version of Toto’s “Africa”. So attending the concert was well worth my time and money. Chris de Burgh is still one of the best voices and writers out there.

  1. Last Night
  2. Missing You
  3. Sailing Away
  4. Turn! Turn! Turn! (Byrds-Cover)
  5. Oh My Brave Hearts
  6. The Long and Winding Road (Beatles-Cover)
  7. Without You (Mariah Carey-Cover)
  8. The Mirror of the Soul
  9. Leather on My Shoes
  10. All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan-Cover)
  11. Love of the Heart Devine
  12. Moonlight and Vodka
  13. Borderline
  14. Always on My Mind (Elvis Presley-Cover)
  15. The Last Thing on My Mind (Tom Paxton-Cover)
  16. A Spaceman Came Travelling
  17. The Same Sun
  18. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  19. The Lady in Red
  20. Africa (Toto-Cover)
  21. Making the Perfect Man
  22. The Words I Love You
  23. Bal Masque
  24. Ship to Shore / The Getaway
  25. Say Goodbye to It All
  26. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  27. High on Emotion
  28. The Snows of New York
  29. Footsteps