So when a performer with the track record, experience and back catalogue
of Chris De Burgh releases a live DVD, then something special surely awaits.
A glance at the track listing seems to ably confirm such a notion as,
sure enough, perennial favourites Don't Pay The Ferryman, Borderline,
Sailing Away and the obligatory Lady In Red all appear. That these more
familiar songs are interspersed with more recent - not to say new - songs,
all bodes well for the 118 minutes of entertainment we are promised on
the back cover.
Enter Chris to the backing of
When Winter Comes from his most recent album, The Road To Freedom and
to the polite applause that greets him. This is an indication of things
to come; that all-important atmosphere is missing, somehow, or so the
presentation of this DVD would seem to indicate.
The songs themselves and their performance are strong and laced with meaningful
intent; De Burgh obviously enjoyed himself on the night. But the lack
enthusiasm from the audience is evident from the lack of response when
he asks the packed hall to sing, dance or even clap in time with the music
and its only at Natasha Dance - the fifth track on the DVD - that the
crowd seem to realise that 'Hey, this is a gig! Let's get with it and
move a bit!' though even then it is done with a lacklustre effort.
De Burgh performs the songs
solo: that is to say, there is no band. No drums, no guitar other than
his own, no bass, no keyboards other than the piano he plays with vibrant
Perhaps it is this that which has lulled the audience? No, then it could
be that they are being given an injustice? What it could be instead, is
that the more up-beat songs that were played on the tour - such as Last
Night, Nothing Ever Happens Round Here and Spanish Train, to name but
three - are all missing from the DVD. Cut too, is the truly moving Beautiful
Dreams style rendition of Say Goodbye To It All that the audience of Liverpool
was treated to, later in the year.
What's left are the low key, almost melancholy songs of the type that
filled the last album. Snow Is Falling, Songbird and Five Past Dreams
- though good songs - are hardly likely to get people up and dancing,
unless it's drunkenly at the end of a wedding. While frankly, those more
upbeat songs that are left - High On Emotion, Lebanese Night, St. Peter's
Gate and Living In The World for example, lack that certain oomph that
a backing band would have provided.
None of this should detract
from Chris De Burgh and his ability to move an audience in the way that
he performs. His voice and playing are faultless. But with all of the
many concerts he could have recorded on DVD - of all the countless tours
- he has chosen possibly the most laid back. Beautiful Dreams Live, has
De Burgh singing solo for the first half of a performance which is then
stratospherically lifted with the arrival of the orchestra.
There are three major plusses with the disc, however; The Medley - Living
On The Island, A Night On The River, Save Me, What You Mean To Me, Crying
And Laughing and Tender Hands - shows De Burgh at his intimate, interactive,
hands-on performing best, as he wanders the hall like a minstrel from
days of yore.
Also, the version he plays here of Read My Name comes straight from the
heart, as does Snows Of New York.
The third big bonus of the DVD is the inclusion of the interview with
the man himself. Taking place prior to one of the German shows, though
not the one recorded, it shows Chris De Burgh at his most revealing and
sharing insights into what it takes to remain at the top for as long as
he has - a good diet, regular exercise and a healthy interest in wine
- whilst also showing what it is that keeps him going
love for his music that is felt by his fans.
The interview shows us the depth of feeling that De Burgh has for those
who follow him and for the feeling those same people - from all corners
of the earth - have for the man, himself.
As a concert DVD, this falls a little flat. It would hardly entice a non-fan
to pay to go and see Chris perform, which can be said to be a great shame
as that same non-fan would be said to be sorely missing out, with or without
a band. The concert tour in full was an absolute joy to behold and it's
such a pity that the stronger tunes were sidelined for this presentation.