Chris de Burgh, Royal Albert Hall, London
Friday 22 April 2011
Swaggering onto the stage sporting a buccaneer's waistcoat, Chris de Burgh initially looks like he watched his Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs a little too closely when penning his latest (and 18th) album – 2010's Moonfleet & Other Stories.
Barrels and netting adorn the band's instruments and the set starts with an unsettling War of the Worlds-esque narration, introducing the concept of De Burgh's latest work. Based on the 19th century novel Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner – featuring the infamous pirate Blackbeard – De Burgh's 24-track record sprang from his famous "love for telling stories", he tells the crowd.
The brief supernatural detour for "A Spaceman Came Travelling" and the "good verses evil" tale of "Spanish Train" showcase De Burgh's vocal talent for melody-backed storytelling – but also show the sea shanties don't quite match up to his previous work. The choruses of "Have a Care" ("Have a care, have a care/ T'was evilly come by and no good will you find there") and the whispered "Help me!" of "The Light on the Bay" makes the first half of the show (dedicated to the Moonfleet album) more West End musical theatre than pop concert staged by a man who has sold more than 45 million records. If backed by a mini-orchestra (the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra features on the record) the tales would have told a far more powerful story.
But all is forgiven after the interval, as De Burgh sheds his piratical attire for his more popular hits. The anti-war lyrics of "Borderline" strike a timely chord and receive a standing ovation, as does "People of the World", an inspirational freedom song dedicated to a young Iranian woman shot by a sniper at a demonstration in 2009. His most famous hit, 1986's "The Lady in Red", hits all the right notes with the crowd (even if it doesn't tonally) as de Burgh walks round the audience, hugging his fans and singing to the copious numbers of ladies dressed in scarlet.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
- 5 Magna Carta will be 800 years old next year – the perfect reminder of the rights and freedoms we must hold dear
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
The Interview film review: Controversial gross-out satire is broad, bawdy and bad - but undeniably entertaining
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever