Monday, May 17, 2010

Donovan at Russbrough House

The last time I saw Donovan was in the old Arcadia Ballroom in Cork back in the Sixties. It was very early in his career and he was plainly at sea as a public performer. I remember a lot to time spent tuning his guitar before he got going. I quite liked some of his songs but regarded him a lightweight in comparison to Dylan. When I saw that he was opening an exhibition called Atlantis to Arcadia in Russborough House I saw it as an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone. Pay my first visit to Russborough House, support the excellent Cherrylane Gallery folk who were presenting the show, and see how the old hippy was looking these days. The show was very well attended but was over awed by its salubrious surroundings - why look at the decorative and insipid art when you can enjoy the glorious architecture and antique silverware. Donovan made a short and zany speech that seemed to suggest that Atlantis was located off the Kerry coast and told us how much he had in common with John Lennon. He is still flying his freak flag but these days it's topped by some circular decorative headwear - a la Richard Thompson. After the opening the crowd go downstairs for the promised performance by Donovan. This actually consists of Donovan declaiming rather than singing something dreadful called Atlantis while abusing a perfectly good guitar. After one song he mercifully hands us over to Chris de Burgh (an in-law of the artist) who sings a tuneful and perfectly acceptable version of Catch the Wind - by far Donovan's best song. A rum do all in all but we left well amused.