FolkWorld Live Review 02/2004 by Kathy Tan

Tomás Lynch
"Live" at the Temple Bar, Kultfabrik, München, Monday 17th November 2003

Hmm, this was a bit of a surreal place to hold a traditional Irish gig! A converted disused factory, the "Kultfabrik" is a collective name given to several "trendy" bars and clubs (including a lap-dance club!) complete with life-sized Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin figures in the alleyways and a HUGE bust of Lenin outside one of the more retro-themed clubs. Nice.

The Temple Bar itself was at the end of a rather zig-zagged journey past these "delectable" offerings, and after weaving my way through the not-so-crowded streets, I found myself in a small and rather cosy looking room with signs advertising genuine Guinness, Kilkenny and Bulmers on tap. I guessed I had found the right place.

Tomas Lynch, photo by The MollisTomás Lynch, the man himself, was chatting away amicably to Alison Moffat, the organiser of the gig, when I came through the door. Indeed, he was very approachable, and I spoke with him for around 15 minutes during the break. Born in 1956 in Dublin, living in a small village just north of Glasgow, and with relatives in Australia, Lynch has a pretty much global perspective, a trait which is reflected in his songs. Of course, the man is no newcomer, after having played and collaborated with the likes of Ron Kavana and June Tabor. These two musicians are among the featured guests in Lynch's 1993 album release, "The Crux of the Catalogue." (See elsewhere in this issue for a review of the CD.)

When the one-man show finally began, Lynch fiddled around with his P.A. for a few minutes before finally settling down to play a tune on the uillean pipes written by Steve Cooney. As Lynch introduced his songs, it was clear that this was a man who took his music very seriously. On the other hand, of course, humour was not lacking either in Lynch's attitude towards songwriting and performance. This is a man who took it upon himself to rewrite "The Wild Rover" because he claims that the version most commonly performed nowadays is a (corrupted) English version. So why not set the record straight? The result is a tune with completely different lyrics. Funny, that!

Despite alternating between the uillean pipes (the instrument which he first took up playing in his youth), tin whistle and guitar, I think it was Lynch's guitar performance that charmed me most. His disctinctively percussive style of strumming was most appropriate on the traditional favourites such as "Dirty Old Town" and "Star of the County Down" ("a lovely tune with crap words", was Lynch's exact description of the latter!) Other pieces played included "The Three Sides of the Road", a hornpipe which Lynch introduced as "a rather wobbly tune itself", a concertina reel composed by Willie Clancy, and a set of jigs on the uillean pipes which included the well-known tune "The Rambling Pitchfork."

Sadly, I had to leave the gig at half-time to make my way to a Poetry Slam (that's another story!) but I sure enjoyed the first half. Shame that the turnout was rather poor though; there were, at maximum, around a measly 15 people there. Oh well, it was a Monday evening in Munich!

Photo Credit: Tomás Lynch at Folkwoods Festival, The Netherlands, photo by The Mollis

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