About an hour before the Christmas Rocks For Children concert kicked off at the Olympia theatre last weekend, a familiar face popped through the back-stage door.
Any chance of playing a few numbers tonight? he asked.
Certainly, Mr. Costello. No problem, replied a gobsmacked promotor. Anything you need for the set? Lights? Champagne? Dancing girls? Just a guitar, he said.
And with a guitar, Elvis Costello lit up the theatre with straight-up songs and stand-up patter. But it was that kind of night.
The second Christmas Rocks concert, in aid of Temple Street Children's Hospital was — like the previous year — more of a party than a gig. For over five hours, the capacity crowd and a line-up of (almost) Live-Aid proportions had themselves a ball.
Scale The Heights opened the show with a quick burst of "Silent Night," and a cast of thousands closed it with a tired and emotional "White Christmas," but the night in between was full of musical magic.
The Dixons played up a storm, while The Joshua Trio reminded everyone how it all began for U2 "in Mount Temple Street Hospital."
The Cutting Crew came all the way from the UK for the gig, and The Four Of Us arrived in the nick of time after a mad dash from their own show in Drogheda and received an ecstatic reception for their trouble.
There was Lesley Dowdall, Mary Coughlin, The Golden Horde — and then there were The Pogues.
Attired in an eye-boggling array of psychedelic suits, the band tore through a stunning set of "Fiesta," "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," "White City" and of course, one of the best songs of the Eighties, "Fairytale of New York," with Mary Coughlan filling in for Kirsty McColl.
Loadsa people worked damned hard to make the vibe happen — the sponsors 7Up and Aer Lingus, the Olympia staff, Dennis and Darryl Desmond of MCD, Litton Lane, Bloom's Hotel, all the committee, especially Christine Ryan; Ger and Michelle for all the costumes — and the immense goodwill of all the musicians, DJs and the audience.
But most importantly, over £22,000 was raised for badly-needed x-ray equipment for the hospital. Without a doubt, the heart warming, madcap generosity which pervaded the old theatre last Sunday was the closest you can get to the true taste of the Christmas spirit ...