• A decade of challenge and change in Irish and Irish-American music
Top Irish-American albums of the decade
• Black 47: 'Trouble in the Land'
• Prodigals: 'Needs Must When the Devil Drives'
• Pierce Turner’s '3 Minute World'
• Enter the Haggis: 'Casualties of Retail'
• Dropkick Murphys: 'Blackout'
Top Irish albums of the decade
• U2’s 'All that you can’t Leave Behind'
• Afro Celt Sound System’s 'Volume 3: Further in Time'
• Sinead O’Connor’s 'Throw Down your Arms'
• 'VH1 Presents The Corrs: Live from Dublin'
We all know that The Corrs are impossibly gorgeous — what was in the water in Dundalk that made these siblings so hot? We also knew that their music was, well, lightweight. From the time they debuted with "Forgiven, not Forgotten," they churned out pristine, well-manicured Irish pop.
For me, that impression changed when I finally saw the band live. They were backing up The Rolling Stones on the night before St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia during the "No Security" tour back in 1999. Since it was my 24th Stones show, I can’t remember the details on the main event, but I do remember being completely blown away by the opening act. The Corrs raised the roof off the Comcast Center with a gritty, muscular set adorned with furious fiddling and tin whistle trills. Clearly, there was a big difference between the recorded version of the band and the live outlet.
The folks at VH1 must have seen the same thing I did, and they rectified the situation by releasing a TV special and live CD in 2002. "VH1 Presents: The Corrs Live in Dublin" saw the camera-ready clan show what they were made of on a small soundstage. The guitars on their monster hit “Breathless” chatter without the restraint of a fastidious producer, while the drums pound behind Andrea Corrs' “breathless” cooing. She is a relentless flirt onstage, entertaining a number of high watt suitors throughout the evening.
Bono strides onstage and engages in a heartfelt duet on Ryan Adams’ “When the Stars Go Blue,” turning the obscure song into a modest hit during the St. Patrick’s Day season that year. He sticks around long enough to offer a cartoonish Country-Western drawl on the Nancy Sinatra chestnut “Summer Wine.”
"Live in Dublin" also serves as a greatest-hits retrospective; viewers unfamiliar with the band’s back catalog got to hear the heavy Fleetwood Mac influence on tracks like “So Young” and “Radio.”
“Joy of Life/Trout in the Bath” is a tasty clap-along reel that showcases the band’s traditional music prowess. Andrea’s flute is playful and intricate at the same time, and it steals the show here. They revisit their roots again when they recorded the brilliant "Home" a few years later.
Rolling Stone Ron Wood ends the show on a high note by leading the siblings through a heartfelt read of “Ruby Tuesday” and a deceptively introspective take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”
With marriages and the kids that soon follow, The Corrs seem to be on a hiatus as 2009 comes to a close. Sharon Corr has struck out on her own, Andrea has gotten into acting, while brother Jim is posting whacked-out nonsense about conspiracy theories in the press and on his website.
We may not hear from them again, and it is unlikely that the band will capture everyone’s imagination again in a second act, which makes "Live in Dublin" a particular treat. It would have been a shame if the world was left with a one-dimensional impression of this brilliant live act.