A blinding firmament of singers, movies stars and rock ’n roll outlaws had gathered beneath the rarefied rafters of the National Concert Hall for a knees-up to remember, writes.
The occasion was the 60th birthday of Shane MacGowan – an event that actually took place last Christmas day – and, cheered on by a raucous audience, the atmosphere was full-throated from the outset.
MacGowan, who has been in a wheelchair since falling outside a recording studio in 2015, appeared only at the end, joining his old pal Nick Cave and a backing band that included Sharon Shannon and The Waterboys’s Steve Wickham for a belt through Summer in Siam and, unaccompanied, for a tender version of Will Ye Go Lassie Go.
But the real throat-in-lump moment had come as Bono, accompanied somewhat improbably by actor Johnny Depp on guitar, performed Rainy Night In Soho, segueing at the end into the chorus of The Cranberries’ Linger.
This was his way of acknowledging the late Dolores O’Riordan whose unexpected death had been announced several hours previously. Also paying tribute to O’Riordan was Cerys Matthews, who dedicated the Broad Majestic Shannon to the Limerick frontwoman.
Similarly plucking at the heartstrings was a surprise appearance by Sinead O’Connor. The singer walked on unassumingly after the intermission and delivered a stunning acapella rendition of You’re The One. On a boisterous evening it was the one instance where you could have heard a pin dropping.
The honour of performing arguably The Pogues’ best known song, Fairytale of New York, fell to Glan Hansard, assisted by John Sheahan of The Dubliners and County Cavan songwriter Lisa O’Neill, whose vocals were a dead ringer for those of Kirsty MacColl on the recorded version.
The gig had sold out in a heartbeat and host John Kelly acknowledged that those who had secured a ticket were lucky to do so.
“"Everyone wanted to play this gig and everyone wanted to see this gig," said Kelly, watched by a crowed that included President Higgins "It is a special night and a special talent.”