Live music: Albert Hammond - Triskel Christchurch, Cork

5/5

Live music: Albert Hammond - Triskel Christchurch, Cork

When God created Albert Hammond for us, he must have been in a beautiful mood. Unquestionably one of the world’s greatest living songwriters, he is also a born entertainer, up there with Joe Dolan, Julio Iglesias, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond and all the others who recorded his songs.

In fine voice and backed by a powerful band that clearly gets what this tour is about, he wowed us with songs like ‘Make Me An Island’, ‘Good Looking Woman’ and ‘99 Miles From LA’. My favourite was ‘All I Need Is the Air That I Breathe’.

The repertoire was always going to be great, but this feels much more zealous than a greatest hits tour. It feels more like a fresh new band on a mission, visiting new countries, converting new fans.

Until now, Hammond always been more about writing than touring. Perhaps that is why this night felt as fresh as, say, Ed Sheeran, but armed with 50 years worth of hits.

Turning 71 next month, Hammond has unfinished business on his mind. His first ever Irish shows have been a revelation.

“I’ve taken a lifetime to get here, but now it already feels like I’m coming home,” said Hammond.

He appealed for help in tracing the roots of his Gibraltar-born mother, Aida McCarthy. Now 95 and still cooking dinner for Albert, she has no leads as to her Irish heritage.

Hammond certainly had a blood bond with this audience, but it goes beyond that. His popularity in Ireland is snowballing following his Late Late Show appearance on April 10. Have a look at it on the RTÉ Player; it’s quite something.

It captures his charisma far better than anything on YouTube, and ends with Ryan Tubridy and the studio audience collectively urging him to come back soon.

Well, the good news is that he is back in October with two dates, Opera House Cork and Town Hall Theatre, Galway.

Those tickets will be like gold dust. I’m no prophet, but I’m happy to predict bigger and bigger Irish shows for Albert Hammond. That is, if he has a compelling reason to keep coming back. Somebody please find his mother’s Irish roots.

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