Varick St. in Manhattan is the home of a great new music venue, reminiscent of the legendary Bottom Line. While the Bottom Line was in the heart of Greenwich Village and, back a few years, had its lease yanked by its Landlord, New York University, The City Winery is in the more remote SoHo, or the south Village, depending on who you talk to. I vote for the new venue, first for its ease of free street parking, but also because it has (i) good wine, (ii) better food and (iii) great decor and ambiance. Now the Bottom Line was not legendary for "no reason", and I'd sure like to have it back, but when Maura O'Connell comes to Town she has found a nice substitute venue and, if you don't believe me, take it from the girl herself.
Maura complimented the new digs from the stage there last Sunday night during a concert that was a tour de force. Ms. O'Connell was certainly on her "A" game, "throwing the fastball in the mid-90's" and use whatever other analogy you want. The show was superb.
To begin with, the audience appreciated the music and got some good laughs after Maura told one group with "shout-outs", that she was going to tie them together with another group on the other side doing the same thing, and throw them both "out the door". All, of course, totally good-naturedly. I remember hearing once, that Joni Mitchell was doing a show and some fan incessantly yelled out his favorites, finally Joni stopped the show, and she said to the fan "I am an artist, you know,....like van Gogh...and nobody yelled out to him, 'Hey, van Gogh..."paint another "Starry Night"!'".
Maura gave the crowd a nice sampling of songs from "Naked with Friends"... "Weakness in Me"..."The Blacksmith" and several others, all the while introducing the songwriter and some background on the song or the recording of the song. Hearing Maura sing live the haunting, a cappella, "Hay Una Mujer Desapercida", was a thrill.
The audience also got to hear two songs of Declan O'Rourke, (she wants us to remember his name, (I know, so we can say, we know Declan, Maura told us how great he is, and he is)), his "Galileo" and "No place to Hide", were terrific. And old standbys like Paul Brady's "To Be the One", Cheryl Wheeler's "Summerfly" and Gerry O'Beirne's "Western Highway", were well-received. That last mentioned song saw audience member Joannie Madden join John Mock and Don Johnson accompanying Maura. Yes, that's right folks, "Cherish The Ladies" were in the house and seemed to be having an outstanding time, Maybe they will play The City Winery soon.
Despite the fact that an audience member wanted to hear a Shane MacGowan song, there were no Pogues songs on the set list, but a good impression of a drunk by Maura. We did get to hear "Blue Train", "Love you in the Middle" and "Spinning Wheel". As has been the way lately, the encore ended with another Van (not van Gogh), but fellow Irishman, Van (The Man) Morrison's "Crazy Love". Maura kept us all up late for a school night, though for Liam and Mike it was on a school break, so there was no getting up for class on Monday! The crowd all had a great time - - -lot's of applause.
Maura's seeming happiness with finding such a nice new venue in NYC, will, hopefully, mean she'll be back soon. However, I do miss the Bottom Line, because I miss Charley McGettigan's "Feet of A Dancer", and Maura would always do that song at the Bottom Line for one of the owner's, who had daughter's. It is such a great Daughter Song.