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Review of concert from 2002-01-13: with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith; Belfast, Waterfront Hall: Landmine Free World
Belfast News Letter, 2002-01-15
- Norman Hamilton



Landmines ban concert has home message ; Review

By Norman Hamilton
Belfast News Letter

THE Concert for a Landmine-Free World sell-out show at the Waterfront hall, Belfast, on Sunday night brought together some of the best singer-songwriters of the past 30 years.

Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and John Prine shared a stage in an intimate acoustic-based almost unplugged performance.

The aim of the show to help raise world awareness of the plight of landmine victims all over the world. A sombre start soon disappeared as Emmylou kicked off the show, assisted on mandolin by Steve Earle.

Her voice is like wine; it gets better with age.

The round-robin format continued with Steve, Elvis, and Nanci all swapping tunes and telling stories until the ice was finally broken by Prine's Donald and Lydia.

John's return to Belfast after a sell-out performance a month ago was greeted with cheers and certainly lifted the mood.

The other artistes followed in the same vein with Steve and Elvis adding their own inimitable style and sarcastic humour.

It was inevitable that Nanci would include Julie Gold songs. A new offering in Goodnight New York and the anti-war song that shot her to fame - From A Distance - all accompanied on the electric piano by Nanci's resident band member and former Amazing Rhythm Aces keyboard player James Hooker.

Throughout, Emmylou reminded us of what the show was promoting, and, before the interval, she introduced Bobby Muller, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation as he gave background information on the organisation's humanitarian work.

The crippled Vietnam vet told of the lingering terror that landmines produce in countries long after conflict has gone. They are among the most indiscriminate means of conducting war.

In 1997 Nobel Peace Prize was conferred on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines of which Bobby Muller was a co-founder.

With the artistes giving their service free all proceeds raised will support programmes of the VVAF that assist innocent victims of conflict around the world.

A new format introduced after the interval took the show up a gear with Emmylou providing magical harmonies for most of the performers and even conjuring the most unlikely duet with Elvis Costello on Bryant Bryant's Sleepless Nights.

Prine was not to be outdone as he produced another classic in The Other Side of Town, bringing his unique brand of humour to the occasion.

The show ended with Steve Earle and he picked up the mandolin and gave a magical version of heavily Irish-influenced Galway Girls.

It was a rousing end to an excellent show and the crowd rose to their feet in appreciation.

More was called for and it arrived with the five uniting for Nanci Griffith's poignant It's A Hard Life and John Prine's beautiful ballad, Paradise.

The audience was satisfied and it left me pondering how relevant the lyrics of Nanci's song were to this Province: If we poison our children with hatred, then a Hard Life is all they will know.

We can only hope that some people here take notice.


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