Chris de Burgh takes on Irish Times reviewer Peter Crawley

The singer has lashed out at the critic who slated his Gaiety gig.

Chris de Burgh has launched an astonishing riposte to an Irish Times review of his Gaiety Theatre show. The review appeared in the Times last Thursday, and a copy of an email sent by the singer, in response, to the reviewer Peter Crawley, has been seen by Hot Press.

The review contained a generally negative reaction to the gig – one of three sell-out nights, which attracted an audience of over 3,000 to the theatre – and depicted de Burgh in a decidedly unflattering light.

The spat touches on an age-old debate concerning the role of the reviewer. Is there – as artists, managers and promoters often insist – a need, in the context of a review, to reflect what happened at a gig, and to report on what the audience reaction is? Or is a purely subjective response what it’s all about?

“A small man appears,” Crawley wrote, “in suit trousers and a white shirt, giving a little wave, like a businessman happy to have finished a long day of conference calls.

“This man is Chris de Burgh. You may have heard of him. The name alone summons a rush of associations, some of which carry a shudder, few of which fail to draw a smile.

“There is that warbly tenor,” the review continues, “the calling card of the mawkish balladeer (“I have never seen that dress you’re wearing . . . ”) which switches at the faintest invitation into a throaty belt: “DON’T PAY THE FERRYMAN!” There is that haircut, long at the back and wispy up front, entirely unruffled by 34 years in the music biz.

“And of course there is that cringe factor, unalleviated by the man’s apparent earnestness: his slightly tarnished squeaky clean persona, his claims to heal people with his hands, his indelible association with a time of shoulder pads and enormous hair. In short, it’s easy to snigger at de Burgh.”

Clearly stung by the personal nature of much of the comment in the review, de Burgh wrote to Crawley in terms that more than match – and indeed in places far exceed – the reviewer in terms of vituperation. The email includes a bilious sideswipe at Joe Breen, the former rock critic with the Irish Times, who now reviews country and roots music for the paper, and also served for a time as wine correspondent.

(Joe Breen's response, when Hot Press contacted him, was short and sweet: "I'm lucky to be blessed with a sense of humour.")

De Burgh's email to Crawley continues: “Your churlish review is an insult to all those who enjoyed their night out, and in these days of collapsing newspaper sales and an entire new generation on the way who will get their information online, you may be looking for another job sooner rather than later. Your pals in the pub must have loved your review, but it seems that you are universally loathed in the Theatre world; a leading Impresario has described you as ‘puffed up with his own self-importance’, and a much loved and successful actress refers to you as ‘that loathsome little turd’. Great accolades, to be sure.”

Accusing the reviewer of having gone to the show with his mind made up, he goes on: “… to totally ignore what actually happened and launch a personal attack is so transparent that any reader can see that it was pointless even writing it, as you were the only person who attended the show that night who didn't ACTUALLY WANT TO BE THERE!!”

“It was a great gig,” Noel McHale of MCD told Hot Press. “The reaction was amazing – he was getting standing ovations from half way through the show. The band were shit hot, the musicianship was amazing and the production was superb – they did things with the lighting and with special effects that I’d never seen before. Technically, it was brilliant. But none of that was reflected in the review – which doesn’t seem fair or balanced.”

Peter Crawley’ Reflections On The Letter

Peter Crawley told Hot Press that he thinks the problem here is that de Burgh’s public and private personas have become mixed up.

“I sort of felt I could write about Chris de Burgh, this persona, and for it not really to emotionally trouble him. Genuinely, I think – that’s maybe my naivete – that somebody with a career of over 30 years standing will take it in his stride,” said Crawley.

But the Irish Times critic adds that there’s another aspect of de Burgh which may be at the root of this disagreement: “I think there’s a disconnect between how he sees himself and his understanding of what a perception of him might be. You see that in his performance, where suddenly he portrays himself as a rock and roller without fully understanding what rock and roll might be. And bridling against the whole crooner tag, which is a better description of what his music is and what his music was and what it means at a particular time.”

“To be inflexible after so many years makes you a nostalgia act and you have to accept that as part of the package. I guess, not being able to see that, makes him, in my mind, a little bit distanced from the scene – not having a very good outside objective perspective of himself. Or maybe not able to disentangle the idea of Chris de Burgh, the person who is a good father or a nice guy or a good guy to have a drink with, and Chris de Burgh that figure: the guy on the stage, the guy on the album cover, the guy in the video, the singer of those verses. I guess a lot of us never have to handle the idea of a public persona and a private life and I guess maybe you take things personally that aren’t meant personally. And I guess maybe, on my side, I should be better aware that things can be taken personally that aren’t meant that way,” said Crawley.

So, is this just another case of the age old debate about how objective/subjective reviewers can/should be?

“There’s no such thing as complete objectivity. You can’t really have a structuralist reading of a concert! So everything is subjective but must be argued. You have to back up a position. While prejudice isn’t going to help you, you have to take to evidence of the performance and any evidence that’s kind of attached to a persona that’s built up,” said Crawley.

“Obviously, I was surprised that it evidently was so wounding and clearly stuck in his craw. And, you know, you do tend to lose sight of the fact that when you’re talking about a public persona, there’s somebody with a mum and there’s somebody who gets hurt and somebody who is going to take it poorly. But the alternative is criticism which is nothing but unmitigated praise and I don’t think that’s especially helpful either,” he said.

Asked about his reaction on receiving de Burgh’s email, the critic said (with maybe just a hint of irony at times): “If you read it, it’s funny. It’s a little bit – I mean, you do cringe. In fairness, he has written this to be amusing and you’ve got to hand it to him – he’s obviously spent a long time and a lot of effort finding out who I am. That’s almost touching really.”

Crawley mentioned that, though the letter “seems to have circulated rather widely,” he had understood it to be a personal correspondance.

“It was, at least, addressed to me and he did ask to meet. So I wrote back and offered a few times that I’m available to meet him. I haven’t heard back yet but I think the offer stands,” he said.

For the full text of Chris de Burgh’s letter, click here.

 

Related Articles

Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham to release second solo album

'Beekeeper' to be released May 12.

Read More

Steel Yard Festival London: Line-up announced

This sister festival to the long-standing Creamfields Festival, Steel Yard will take place in Victoria Park London during the Sunday May 28 Bank Holiday Weekend.

Read More

Boy George, Gary Lineker, Lily Allen & Nicki Minaj among those reacting to Westminster attack

It's emerged that an Irish national was injured in yesterday's atrocity.

Read More

Gorillaz are releasing new music tonight

New music to be released ahead of fourth album

Read More

REVIEW: The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon at Dublin's Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Musical nostalgiafests really don't come any better!

Read More

A Date For Mad Mary's Seána Kerslake stars in the Hot Press Best of Ireland special

Miriam O'Callaghan, Al Porter, Catherine Fulvio, Gavan Henegan & Aidan Gillen also feature in our essential going-out guide!

Read More

The xx, A Tribe Called Quest & Duran Duran confirmed as Electric Picnic headliners

The first major line-up announcement has just been made!

Read More

Plans For David Bowie Memorial Sadly Axed

A big fundraising push by David Bowie fans to erect a sculpture in the shape of the 'ZiggyZag' iconic lightning bolt from the 'Aladdin Sane' album cover near his birthplace in London has sadly failed to raise enough cash for the ambitious dream project.

Read More

Reese Witherspoon Discovers Irish Heritage

The Legally Blonde actress was shocked to discover that she is 63% Irish after undertaking a genetic test, she revealed on the popular Conan O'Brien's chat show.

Read More

Stephanie Rainey Unveils New Powerful Music Video About Mental Health

Outstanding Irish newcomer Stephanie Rainey has revealed the brand new video for her latest single ‘100 Like Me’, which deals with themes such as anxiety, bipolar, depression, psychosis and addiction.

Read More

RTÉ overhaul as the broadcaster announces job losses, land sale and restructuring

The broadcaster's director general also confirmed that 200 or more jobs will be lost.

Read More

WATCH: Conor J. O'Brien stars in the new episode of This Ain't No Disco

He's been whisked off to New York to meet composer Nico Muhly.

Read More

Mike McCormack's Solar Bones shortlisted for Kerry Group Novel of the Year

He's up against Neil Hegarty, Kit DE Waal, Emma Donoghue & Conor O'Callaghan.

Read More

Johnny Marr reunites with The The for Record Store Day

Smiths guitarist reunites with legendary post-punk band.

Read More

LISTEN: Chuck Berry's posthumous new single 'Big Boy' from his final album

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and soul singer Nathaniel Rateliff help out on the track, which is taken from Chuck Berry's forthcoming album Chuck.

Read More

Best Of Ireland 2017 - Featured Establishment's Offer

If you want more then one copy of Best of Ireland (and if you're in it you should!) we've created a special set of discounted bundles.

Read More

Full line-up for MusicTown 2017 announced

Now in its third year, MusicTown celebrates the rich music heritage and contemporary artistic lifeblood of Dublin City.

Read More

EXCLUSIVE: Clare Sands shares her new single 'Join Me At The Table'

The Cork-based musician drops the video for the second single from her debut album.

Read More

Filmmaker Werner Herzog coming to Dublin for a public interiew

The German director will come as part of the International Literature Festival in Dublin.

Read More

U2 release 'Red Hill Mining Town' for Record Store Day

Primal Scream, The Doors, Sia, The Cure, Iggy Pop & David Holmes are also getting in on the act!

Read More

TLC's "No Scrubs" songwriters given credits to Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You"

Following allegations that Sheeran plagiarised his hit song "Shape of You" from the TLC classic "No Scrubs," the credits to the song have been revised.

Read More

Grace & Frankie Season 3 Premieres This Friday

Netflix's popular comedy 'Grace and Frankie', which stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, will return to the streaming service with a new season of 13 episodes this weekend.

Read More

Top Irish Acts To Rock Against Homelessness

HamsandwicH, Finbar Furey, Paul Brady, Delorentos, The Blizzards, Paul Cleary, Ivy Nations, and August Wells will perform at a charity fundraiser gig in Dublin on 7 April.

Read More

The War On Drugs will release new music next month

The band will return with new record 'Thinking of a Place' on Record Store Day.

Read More

P!NK announced at Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival has announced that P!ink will once again headline at the Island of Freedom festival this summer.

Read More

Peter Hook announces Limerick, Dublin & Belfast dates

There will be Joy Division classics aplenty!

Read More

On The Fringes of Peace: Martin McGuinness Interviewed in 1990

In the early '90s, just as the seeds of the peace process were starting to take root in republican circles, freelance journalist and former IRA member Shane O'Doherty met Martin McGuinness for a frank discussion about terrorism, negotiation and the republican endgame.

Read More

Maverick Sabre live at The Bowery this April

The Bowery have today announced that Maverick Sabre will perform his first Irish show of 2017 in their venue.

Read More

The Hot Press Best of Ireland Special is out now!

A Date For Mad Mary's Seána Kerslake is our cover star...

Read More

The Big Bang Theory renewed for two more seasons

The hit show will be returning after its 10th season for 2 more years.

Read More

Alison Moyet announces new album, upcoming tour

The legendary Alison Moyet will be touring her new album this spring.

Read More

Colin Farrell to star as Oliver North in Iran-Contra drama

It's one of two upcoming projects that re-unites him with the director of The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos.

Read More

BARQ, HAWK, and Harbouring Oceans to set out on their own Big Giant Head tour

The three acts will be playing gigs throughout Ireland and the U.K this spring.

Read More

Elaine Mai releases new video for remix of Liza Flume's "Sheets"

Read More

Political figures react to the death of Martin McGuinness

Politicians from both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland, as well as international figures from further afield, have offered their condolences for the peace maker, while a few dissenting voices have reminding people about Martin McGuinness' history in the IRA.

Read More

Martin McGuinness Has Passed Away

The former IRA leader turned peacemaker and statesman, who was Sinn Féin's chief negotiator in the peace process, died this morning at the age of 66-years-old, following a short illness with a rare heart disease that was diagnosed only back in December.

Read More

Boyce Avenue for Olympia Theatre

Boyce Avenue have today announced that they will perform live at The Olympia Theatre this November.

Read More

Document: A Film About Malojian is available to watch today

Northern Irish band Malojian documented their intensive recording sessions for their new album This Is Nowhere over the course of four days. You can watch the full-length documentary from those sessions here.

Read More

Boyce Avenue announce Olympia Theatre show

Group will play Dublin this Winter

Read More

Lewis Watson unveils video for new single 'Deep The Water'

The Oxford-based singer releases single from upcoming midnight

Read More

Kasabian announce Olympia Theatre show

Tickets go on sale next Friday at 9am

Read More

Chasing Abbey release new single 'That Good Thing'

Freshly formed in 2016, Tullamore group Chasing Abbey bring a unique pop, dance and hip-hop style to the fore.

Read More

Foy Vance announces his biggest headliner yet in Belfast's Custom House Square

The Bangor singer will also be joined by special uests Amy MacDonald, Ryan McMullan & David C Clements.

Read More

Mark Ronson and Air will headline Beatyard Festival 2017

The seaside festival has just released its headliners for its two days in August.

Read More

Kim Kardashian Feared Being Killed During Robbery

The reality TV star has told how she genuinely feared she was going to be raped and shot dead during the infamous Paris robbery last October, which resulted in the theft of $10million worth of her jewellery.

Read More

Liam Gallagher Attacks Brother Noel On Twitter

The ex-Oasis singer took to Twitter on Sunday night to reveal the name of the first single from his eagerly awaited album and, in the process, also decided to have yet another pop at his brother Noel.

Read More

Chuck Berry Has Passed Away

Rock 'n' Roll legend Chuck Berry, who was famous for such classic hits as 'Johnny B. Goode', 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and 'Roll Over Beethoven', has died at the age of 90.

Read More

Deluxe Edition Of Maren Morris Debut Album Is Out Today

The acclaimed singer/songwriter, who will play the Dublin Academy on 12 November, releases the deluxe edition of her critically acclaimed album 'Hero' today...

Read More

Kasabian Release New Single

Kasabian, who will hit Dublin's Olympia in April as part of their upcoming UK and Irish tour, have just released a new single, 'You're In Love With A Psycho'...

Read More

Season Two Of Master of None To Air In May

Actor Aziz Ansari has just announced on his social media pages that season two of the Emmy award-winning Netflix original series 'Master of None' will premiere exclusively on Netflix on 12 May.

Read More

A Night At The Opera

Northern Ireland Opera, in association with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, presents the Irish première and all-Ireland tour of Handel’s Radamisto.

Read More

Kilkenny Tradfest kicks off today

This year’s festival includes performances from Paul Brady (2017 headline act), Eleanor McEvoy, Beoga, Ushers Island, Pauline Scanlon and more.

Read More

Lineup announced for Sziget Festival

Wiz Khalifa, Rita Ora, Paul Van Dyk, The Vaccines and more will be on the Island of Freedom in Budapest for the festival this year, as well as Kasabian, Major Lazer, and Alt-J.

Read More

Mark Ronson & Air to headline Beatyard

August's Dun Laoghaire knees-up is starting to look seriously tasty...

Read More

David Rooney to play the Hot Spot Music Club

The songwriter will be taking his band and his art work to Greystones for a visual art/music show.

Read More

George Clinton to do his P-Funk thing in Vicar St.

The legendary American is over in May

Read More

James Blunt announces Dublin 3Arena show

Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid both have co-writes on his new album

Read More

Hozier and Liam Neeson join celebrities in support of Irish Stand

The event, which will include performances from author Colum McCann and comedian Maeve Higgins will take place tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day, in New York City.

Read More

B*Witched Reunion To Mark 20th Anniversary

Irish pop group B*Witched are getting back together to mark the anniversary of their first UK number one hit single, 'C’est La Vie', which was released all the way back in 1998...

Read More

Suede Singer Pens Tell-All Memoir

Brett Anderson has just inked a major publishing deal for a kiss-and-tell memoir, it can be confirmed.

Read More

Orson Welles' Last Film To Finally See The Light Of Day

Movies buffs will be excited to hear that Netflix is acquiring the global rights and will finance the completion and restoration of legendary filmmaker Orson Welles’ last film, 'The Other Side of the Wind'.

Read More

Adam Clayton to receive MusiCares Addiction Recovery Award

The U2 bassist will be honoured at the MAP Fund benefit concert in NYC on June 26.

Read More

WATCH: The new trailer for Despicable Me 3

A new two-and-a-half minutes long trailer for Despicable Me 3 has been released by Universal Pictures and it shows Gru meeting his twin brother Dru.

Read More

WATCH: The Shins perform 'Name For You' on Stephen Colbert

The Shins performed on the primetime chat show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in support of their new album Heartworms.

Read More

Ed Sheeran and Stormzy join artists supporting the Love Music Hate Racism campaign

Read More

Feist returns with new album Pleasure

Canadian indie-pop singer Feist will release her first album in over five years this April.

Read More

The Matrix is set to get a reboot

The revolutionising sci-fi trilogy is set to be dredged up by Warner Bros., with Michael B. Jordan rumoured for the leading role.

Read More

LISTEN: The Cranberries give an acoustic take on 'Linger'

Ahead of the release of the new album Something Else, this April, The Cranberries have come together for an acoustic rendition of one of their most famous songs.

Read More

Depeche Mode on white supremacist Richard Spencer: 'He's a cunt'

The English electronic band aren't beating around the bush...

Read More

Grandmaster Flash set for Dublin

One of hip-hop's pioneers is making his way to the Academy next month.

Read More

Day-By-Day Breakdown of Forbidden Fruit Announced

Here's the day-to-day breakdown of 2017's Forbidden Fruit, as well as a few additional acts.

Read More

Albert Hammond announces new album and Dublin show

The Gibraltarian singer-songwriter will be making his way to the 3Arena this September.

Read More

Trump responds to Snoop Dogg video

The new American president responded to Snoop Dogg's new video the only way he knows how- in 140 characters or less.

Read More

Josh Ritter To Auction Off Guitars For Charity

If you're a Josh Ritter fan, it will no doubt be music to your ears to hear that the popular singer-songwriter is auctioning off two of his much beloved acoustic guitars for worthy causes.

Read More

Calling All Beatles Fans...

A stellar panel line-up will join author Paul Howard to discuss the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which was released 50 years ago "today", as part of the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival at 8.30pm on 23 March at The Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire.

Read More

Ben Affleck Opens Up About Rehab Stint

The Oscar-winner took to Facebook last night to bravely reveal that he has just completed a stint in rehab to help conquer his alcohol addiction.

Read More

Irish indie-rock act Susie Blue stands up for equality with new single 'Be A Lady'

Irish rock act Susie Blue have released the brand new single ‘Be A Lady’ ahead of their live shows in London and Dublin this in the coming week.

Read More

Picture This, Brian Deady, Lyra and others named as Irish acts playing at The Great Escape Festival

The UK's answer to SXSW Festival and Eurosonic Festival, The Great Escape features nine Irish artists this year.

Read More

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sequel to feature entirely new cast

Don't Breathe director Fede Alvarez will be at the helm of the new sequel.

Read More

Cry Monster Cry return with new single 'Things We Can't Take Back'

Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, Rhythm of Dawn in 2015, brothers Richie & Jamie Martin are back with their new single 'Things We Can't Take Back', which will go on general release March 17.

Read More

Get a sneak peek of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats TOMORROW

Ahead of Jameson Bow St. Sessions headliner on March 16th, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will warm up for their Academy appearance with a secret set, the day before their Jameson Bow St. Sessions show.

Read More

Deirdre O’Kane to Host the IFTA Awards

The Irish Film & Television Academy has announced that award-winning Irish actress and comedienne Deirdre O’Kane will host the 2017 IFTA Film & Drama Awards, taking place at the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House on Saturday April 8.

Read More

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals appearing at The Academy after Bruno Mars support

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals will appear at The Academy, Dublin, on April 30 for a special live public appearance after his his set at the 3Arena that night with Bruno Mars.

Read More

Snoop Dogg pulls gun on a clown Trump in new video

The rapper released a collaboration with BADBADNOTGOOD, in which he takes out some of his frustrations with the new American president.

Read More

The Blizzards announce gig at Monroe's this April

Hot off their spectacular comeback in 2016, Bressie's boy blast into 2017 with their new single ‘Second Wind’.

Read More

Big Bang Theory Prequel Is On The Way

Fans of the hit TV show will be thrilled to learn that CBS has decided to go ahead asap with the 'Young Sheldon' spin-off.

Read More

The Chameleons' Drummer Has Died

John Lever, who was the drummer with the Manchester post-punk band The Chameleons, has sadly passed away.

Read More

Is Russia Provoking Ukraine With Eurovision Choice of Yulia Samoylova?

There had been fears the Russia might give the Eurovision Song Contest a miss this year because it takes place in Ukraine. Instead they have risked escalating tensions between the two countries...

Read More

Catherine McGrath releases new single 'Starting From Now'

Country-pop’s newest rising star Catherine McGrath has released her new single ‘Starting From Now’ via Warner Bros. Records.

Read More

Joey Bada$$ unveils new single 'Land of the Free', announces release of second album

The America hip-hop artist will release his new record, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, on April 7.

Read More

Extra tickets released for Eddie Vedder

It was just announced that there will be extra tickets going on sale for Eddie Vedder’s show in Dublin’s 3Arena.

Read More

In Between Silence, a unique sound and storytelling project, is coming to Dublin this week

In Between Silence, where we really exist is a series of sound pieces featuring storytelling from some of Ireland’s finest writers, including Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, underscored by music specially commissioned from groundbreaking composer, producer and visual artist Stano.

Read More

Watch Kevin Spacey as a gangster boss in new trailer for Baby Driver

The World’s End director Edgar Wright returns with his new action movie starring Kevin Spacey.

Read More

Seu Jorge is hosting a tribute night to David Bowie in Dublin

The Life Aquatic - Tribute to David Bowie will take place at Vicar St this May 24.

Read More

Ed Sheeran To Appear In Game Of Thrones!

Man of the moment, Ed Sheeran is to make a surprise cameo appearance in 'Game of Thrones', it has just been confirmed.

Read More
 

Advertise With Us


For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below

Advertise

Find us elsewhere