Indeed, they do sound magic.

A simple idea, well executed.  Christy Moore is a wonderful live performer. He has enjoyed Magic Nights “in a thousand places”.  Every gig cherished, every song lovingly dispersed. It turns out he records every gig, perfect for compiling a live album.  The list of cities, towns, villages and venues is far and wide, as is the range of songs. A massive job then trawling through the potential choices for inclusion.

The work is presented on two discs, first and second half, as with a live show.  Twenty-six songs in total.  A nicely packaged work, with credits and notes on each song. Of course, the star of the show is Mr Moore but backing musicians deserve mention as well. Most notably Declan Sinnott, Cathal Hyden, Mairtin O’Connor, Seamie O’Dowd and Jimmy Higgins.  The live sound is live sounding but that adds to the atmosphere. It captures an accomplished performer in his preferred setting.

I suspect this work will appeal almost exclusively to those that had been to at least one, or more realistically numerous Christy Moore gigs over the perhaps fifty plus years of his career.  They will be familiar with the songs and they will not be disappointed that not many of their favourites are missed out. They are all here. Stretching back to pre-Planxty days with ‘Spancilhill’ and ‘Tipping It Up To Nancy’ and ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’.

The Planxty era is surprisingly underrepresented; ‘The Well Below The Valley’ perhaps the only one. The wonderful Jackson Browne ‘Before The Deluge’ from the Moving Hearts years.  The bulk of the material is from Christy’s solo years. He has never been a prolific songwriter, I count just two here, ‘The Two Conneelys’ and ‘Veronica’. His strength lies in an ability to pick great songs from marvelous writers and then create his on stunning versions of them. The aforementioned Jackson Browne, Dan Penn, ‘Hurt’ by Trent Reznor, Shane McGowan. Irish writers feature very prominently, Jimmy McCarthy, John Spillane, John Mulhearn and Wally Page. Alongside this, Christy has always been quick to pick out and support the work of lesser known and emerging writers, Colm Gallagher, Tony Small, Sean Mone.

Just an observation not a criticism, this is a very male album, all the writers with I think the exception of Natalie Merchant, are male. All the musicians with the exception of Vickie Keating on backing vocals and Joleen McLaughlin (Henry Girls) harp are male. Just saying.

The singing is great, full of passion, commitment and just superb diction. Every word rings out loud, clear and true. A great performer captured in his element.

You could get many worse things in your Christmas Stocking than this lovely work.

‘Magic Nights’ is available now on Sony Music.