Wednesday 25 April 2018

Review: Brendan Grace at the Gaiety Theatre

brendan grace
brendan grace
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

After 44 years in show biz, Brendan Grace still knows how to send them home smiling, writes Eamon Sweeney.

By now, Brendan Grace must have had at least nine lives in show biz. A founder member of show band The Gingermen at the tender age of 18, Grace has toured with Frank Sinatra and John Denver, plus penned the number one hit 'Combine Harvester', which scooped the top spot for both Grace and The Wurzels.

Brendan Grace
Brendan Grace

While some might think Grace belongs to a bygone age of cheesy variety hall entertainment, he still commands excellent box office on a homecoming run of four nights in the Gaeity.

Showband Nostalgia operate as his support and occasional backing band, performing a few showband era favourites before his Grace takes to the stage. As show openings go, it's as incongruous as they come, as Grace pops up behind the three piece band resplendent in a black and red suit and launches straight into his set.

He reminisces about Dublin city in the rare ould times, mining his Liberties background for a crowd-pleasing selection of gags and stories. For the most part, they have a great hit rate and delight a capacity crowd. Grace also beautifully references his show-stealing turn as Father Fintan Stack on Father Ted in 1996. The pre-Vatican 2 Saturday confession ritual makes for a wonderful sketch, hilariously capturing how this country was not so long ago.

A motley crew receive a thanks and shout out, namely Mr. Pussy, songwriter Pete St. John and Ireland’s first Olympian gold medallist Ronnie Delaney. Grace's grandsons also join him onstage.

Brendan Grace Photo:Brian McEvoy
Brendan Grace Photo:Brian McEvoy

He closes the show with an emotional rendition of ‘Dublin in the Rare Ould Times’, which is dedicated to some of the departed legends of this hallowed stage, such as Maureen Potter and The Dubliners. After 44 years in show biz, Brendan Grace still knows how to send them home smiling.

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