Gilbert O'Sullivan Gives Intimate Irish Party in Carré

Text and pictures: Ronald Rijntjes

Translation: Rob van der Vaart

On June 18th, 2013 the well-known Irish pop artist Gilbert O'Sullivan (Raymond Edward O'Sullivan) performed in Carrétheatre in Amsterdam. The concert was one of the last of his past months tour. Various hits are in the name of O'Sullivan, like ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’, ‘Clair and ‘Get Down’. Now, in 2013, aged 66, he still searches for innovation. On his latest album Gilbertvillehe is in search of the American blues and country.

Unfortunately the venue is not completely sold out, mainly his loyal fans knew to find him this evening. The performance consists of two parts, one calmly first set and a solid danceable second set. Behind his keyboard O'Sullivan sings many songs that are known to the audience. Now and then a less known hit, that he himself entitles as 'medium-hits'.

At the start of the concert the singer does not know what they are going to play, but anyhow it will be an enjoyable evening, he assures.

Full sound

The band that O’Sullivan has brought along this tour takes care of a full sound. Room is left for solo’s and some songs are being played in quite an innovative way. Saxophonist Julian Webster with his solo’s breaks nicely into the songs. He also knows how to subtle accompany on flute and percussion.

Guitarist Bill Shanley knows how to play every style with his guitar and doesn’t stay clear of any solo. Nick Scott easily knows how to play a solid bass line. It is striking how he plays his bass: as a guitarist, with fast moving fingers and a plectrum now and then.

The melody lines of the music get more power by the play of keyboard and accordion player Mick Parker, who, relaxed behind his keys, keeps the overview and directs the band.


The music of O’Sullivan is versatile, not only as for style, but also as for theme: next to love and the search for happiness, also sadder sides of life get a chance, like saying good-bye. Different music styles drop by, from pop to blues and from country to reggae. This all framed by the typically sensitive and soft voice of O’Sullivan.

The voice of O’Sullivan is still like in the old days, let alone that in the height he is not always in tune. He gets vocal reinforcement from two female background singers. They provide beautiful two voiced numbers and a nice question-and-answer in ‘Ooh Wakka Doo Wakka Day’.


It appears that tonight modern technic seems to takes over the singer: he doesn’t feel comfortable with his in-ear system and he doesn’t hide his annoyance about that. All the same he deservedly sees himself as an innovative artist. For his loyal fans he gladly plays his hits like ‘I Wish I Could Cry’ and ‘We Will’, but not too often. He’d rather revert to songs that are a ‘medium-hit’ and not that known, but nice to play.

Twin Towers

He still likes to write new songs and that becomes clear, when, after the break, he plays a couple of songs from his album Gilbertvillethat was recorder in America. The influences are heard immediately, with blues and country styles used in them.

Eye catching is ‘All They Wanted To Say’, dedicated to the victims of the Twin Towers attack in 2001. The title refers to the people in the planes or in the towers calling their beloved ones to tell them how much they loved them. The song comprises of a beautiful composition and dynamically it is perfectly written.


On stage the musicians regularly have fun together. This happens more in the second part of the concert than before the break. That is because part two contains more up-tempo songs causing an energy-boost. The audience sings, claps and dances cheerfully, which makes O’Sullivan shine himself.

At many songs O’Sullivan sits behind his keyboard, but if he stands-up singing he walks with one hand in his pocket and the other holding the microphone standard. In the final the roof goes totally off when he stands on his keyboard and the disco ball appears. In a fast pace all his greatest hits come along, and that results in a splattering end.