Freddie White Live At The Riverbank


With a career spanning over forty years in the business, it’s no surprise that Freddie White concerts tend to carry a wealth of experience and stories along with them. Yet at the same time, there’s no fear that you could ever find yourself sitting back and politely paying attention to a “star”. No, intimacy is the tagline of choice for one of these gigs. I have seen him in several venues now but it all began with a gig in the Riverbank and it was back to the Newbridge venue I returned last night. And once again, a special night of music was had.White is renowned, though he does write himself too, for his outstanding interpretations of other artists’ work. Most notably, his versions of “Martha” by Tom Waits, “Marie” by Randy Newman and “Tenderness On The Block” by Warren Zevon are so far above and beyond the original works that you would be hard pressed to listen to them the same way again. Last night was a different style gig to the usual however. With a new album, “Better Days”, released this year, White took it upon himself to dedicate the first half of the evening to songs from said album (“The whole thing nearly” as he remarked himself). It was for the better of the gig in my opinion as it can grow tiresome sometimes when an audience is palpably waiting for this song or that song to be played. I’m yet to give it its proper listen but the new album, for the first time comprised entirely of Freddie’s own compositions, live was a treat anyway. Stand outs so far are the groovy “A Drug Called You” and the extremely witty “Global Housewarming” which Randy Newman would be proud of. Having seen White live nearly ten times at this stage, it was a welcome change for the first hour of the gig to present new material and I’m sure for Freddie himself it is a nice change to the norm. Before the interval we were treated to the always welcome “Tenderness On The Block” and a standout for myself as a massive Tom Waits fan, “Grapefruit Moon”. A cover of this track appeared on the 2012 album “Here With Me” which White recorded with his wife Trish Hickey, and I had planned for it to be my own shout out request so I was thrilled to hear it.

After the break, with a glass of wine offered up by a member of the audience beside Freddie’s guitar, the “house party” was about to get under way, as Freddie informed us “This is your part of the night, shout”. Of course, the first and loudest shout is always the same, “Martha”. To be honest, I personally think this worked in the gig’s favour, again there’s nothing worse than people sitting around for this song or that etc. From there we were treated to the back catalogue (“Nearly enough for a Greatest Hits” as Freddie noted) and stand outs included “Gypsy Moth”, “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”, “My Walking Stick” and “Jolly Coppers On Parade” which was my second choice shout out request so I guess I’m biased. Look, I could list the entire setlist to be honest because such is the magnitude of the man’s level of performance that it is simply an engaging night end to end at a Freddie White concert. He has been playing music the last forty years that is as far removed from the standard Irish singer songwriter circuit as you can get, and he has made it his own. Closing out proceedings was one of the earlier gems, “Down To Zero” and afterwards, as always, White was immanently approachable as he took the time to hang round the lobby and sign CDs and have a few words with the crowd. Having relocated to Australia a few years back, the gigs are now becoming all the more rare so I cannot stress enough how much you need to attend while he’s here, with many dates and tickets available and all required info on . At an average of €15 – €20 for a ticket it really is hard to go wrong either way.

Go see him while you can, the last great troubadour.

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