If you are going to spend the best part of your life on stage pretending to be someone else then it is probably a sensible move to imitate a legend like Christy Moore.
That’s certainly the way Wexford man Liam Byrne, who has been performing the Christy tribute show since the turn of the century, feels.
He’s bringing the gig to Slane’s Village Inn next Saturday night, (March 12th), and is well aware he will be likely be facing an audience containing Moore family members.
He told Meath Live, ‘I know Christy’s mother was from the Yellow Furze and that he has cousins around Slane but look every show I do I am conscious that most of the audience are Christy fans anyway so you always have to deliver.
‘I’m often asked has Christy ever been to any of my gigs and the answer is no I have been to plenty of his though!
‘He is aware of me I know that because he referenced the show in Hot Press, he made an interesting point saying that when he started off as a tribute act himself.
‘His point was that although it didn’t say it on the posters he was a tribute to the Clancy brothers as he sang their songs and wore an Aran sweater, so it seems he knows about me.
‘How it all started was I was looking for something to give me an edge in getting a gig and as I have the same idea of playing to an audience as Christy has, a few songs and a bit of craic and banter, it was an easy choice.’
The show has taken him across the world and on one occasion while entering Australia he had a bit of explaining to do.
He recalls, ‘ They’re fairly particular about who or what they let in to Australia and I had a bodhrán with me, I had it in a bag that looked like a computer case.
‘The female customs officer opened the case and asked me what it was, I said it was an Irish laptop, she didn’t see the funny side of it!’
The tribute shows work on these shores but sometimes people just don’t get it.
‘I was playing a gig in a bar in Waterford one night and a Brazilian girl who was working in the city as a Nanny came up to me and asked would I sign two of Christy’s albums.
‘I had to explain to her that I wasn’t actually Christy Moore and she was ever so disappointed.
‘On the way home I remembered Christy had a show coming up in Enniscorthy so I stopped off and bought her two tickets for that, met her there and brought her to see Christy who duly signed the albums.’
An important part of all Moore gigs is the singers interaction with the audience, which at times sees Christy calling order if the crowd is talking over a song.
Byrne’s had to intervene in his own shows as well.
‘Not to the point of saying F**k up talking or leave, but I have a few well rehearsed out downs right enough.
‘Mainly what I find, and to this day it takes me aback, is when I look down from the stage and see people really getting into it and reacting to a song, it brings it home to me just how much Moore means to folk…
‘Back in 2013 I kind of thought the tribute show had run its course and started to row back from it, I suppose I was a bit wore out doing Christy night after night, but the strangest thing happened, the phone never stopped ringing with people wanting to book me.
‘I kind of realised at that stage I am stuck with it for life and also realised just how much Christy is idolised.’
Liam has an encyclopaedic recall of all of Christy’s classics, and says he has yet to be caught out by being asked to sing one he doesn’t know.
‘So far I have always been able to deliver but there are really hardcore fans out there who request some of his lesser known songs.’
And then there are those who join in with the old favourites.
‘I was playing a students union gig in Dundalk IT one night and started into Lisdoonvarna when all of a sudden I noticed tere was nobody sitting in front of me they had all come upo on the stage beside me and were singing along.
‘My two personal favourites are Hey Santy and the Dunnes Stores song, the most difficult one to do is Little Musgrave but the one that really defines Moore is Viva La Quinta Brigada.
‘He wrote that while living in Spain, he gathered the information and penned a classic that has everything a great story, brilliant melody and a fantastic beat.
‘It’s a song that comes into its own with a live audience.’
It’s certain to get that in Slane this Saturday.