The music of Irish folk group The Dubliners was celebrated and brought to life by a passionate group of musicians upon the Birmingham stage.

Seven Drunken Nights – The Story of the Dubliners had the audience clapping along to each song at The Alexandra Theatre.

Pioneering Irish band The Dubliners were founded in 1962 – originally named The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group after the lead singer but later changed to The Dubliners which was inspired by James Joyce’s book – with several band member changes over the span of fifty years.

The show celebrates the influential music of The Dubliners Prestige Productions Ltd
The show celebrates the influential music of The Dubliners

Sadly, the original five founding members of the band have all passed away and the last time The Dubliners performed was in 2012.

The range of topics covered in the songs of The Dubliners range from jaunty traditional Irish ballads, lively and frothy drink soaked songs and haunting sea shanties, to establishment-baiting protest songs about freedom and injustice during The Troubles.

Fans of The Dubliners who miss the music and raucous energy of the legendary musicians are in for a treat with a special show called Seven Drunken – The Story of The Dubliners which not only celebrates the music of the band but also shares the story of the group’s humble beginnings to international stardom.

The band performed Seven Drunken Nights on Top of the Pops in 1967Prestige Productions Ltd
The band performed their song Seven Drunken Nights on Top of the Pops in 1967

The influence of The Dubliners reached far and wide and amongst the many musicians who were inspired by the pioneering music of the Irish band were singers and groups such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and The Beatles.

The show uses a simple but powerful technique to unlock the story and songs of The Dubliners. A group of veteran musicians sing – and play various instruments – while the stage behind them recreates some of the old public house haunts of the original band while archive monochrome photographs and press clippings are projected on a screen behind the musicians which adds an atmospheric layer.

The journey of the band from their early days singing in O’Donoghue’s pub to their appearance at Top of the Pops in 1967 – where the band sung their bestselling single Seven Drunken Nights – are beautifully rendered on stage in a nostalgic and charming manner.

Archives pictures are projected onto the stage to illustrate the story of The DublinersPrestige Productions Ltd
Archives pictures are projected onto the stage to illustrate the story of The Dubliners

Writer and director Ged Graham performs the key role of the narrator who takes the audience on the journey through the music and life of The Dubliners.

The interplay, banter, and comedic interludes all added to the pleasure of a very appreciative audience at a packed out Alexandra Theatre.

The cast and crew of this show bring experience, passion and professionalism, and work in such unison that within minutes of appearing on stage they captured the hearts and minds of the audience.

Ged Graham and his grandson Adam Evans who hails from BirminghamPrestige Productions Ltd
Ged Graham introduces his grandson Adam Evans who hails from Birmingham

Ged Graham not only plays the narrator but he also sings and plays guitar and 5 string banjo while his grandson Adam Evans, who hails from Birmingham, is a ball of fire and energy on guitar and vocals.

Fiddle players Nic Goode and Fred Holden displayed complete mastery of their instruments and were so in tune with the melodies they plucked that they danced and jigged along to the music as if possessed by some feral force. Their musicianship was so infectious that despite his age Graham – who is in his 70’s – got up and tapped along to the melodic flow of the fiddles and guitars.

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Howard employed his skills like a wizard and kept the momentum of the show flowing while Danny Muldoon’s rich and creamy vocals brought a beautiful texture to the music.

The show is full of toe-tapping musicPrestige Productions Ltd
The show is full of toe-tapping music from start to finish

Many classic songs were performed including Belle of Belfast City, Dirty Old Town, The Banks of the Rose, Star of the County Down, and a truly heartfelt The Town I Love So Well which was sung as a poignant tribute to founding band member Luke Kelly who tragically passed aged 43 in 1984 after a long illness.

On the surface the concept of the show may resemble a jukebox musical performed by a talented tribute act but the material and committed performances reveal something deeper, sincere and unique. This show is an education for newcomers, and a powerful reminder for fans of the original group, about the powerful legacy of The Dubliners whose music continues to speak to us and inspire us in dark and divisive times.

This show uses the songs and story of The Dubliners to demonstrate how the spellbinding magic of music can lift up the human spirit.

A thrilling toe-tapping, hip-shaking, energy soaked show.

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Details about dates and venues, including ticket information about the show, can be found here.

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