The Kelly Family. How often do I wish, I could see one more concert of the whole family. 2-3 hours concert with their catchy popsongs, the wonderful ballades, the great show – without big lightshows, without big ballyhoo. A main setlist, that can be and is changed spontaniously depending on the situation. So many wonderful personalities with wonderful voices, who sing in 3-4 languages at least. Generally selfwritten songs, but even some covers and traditional songs every now and then. Bandmembers, who swap several instruments with each other and can act in each other places. And withal bring a great humour and don’t always take themselves too seriously either. The Kelly Family doesn’t exist as a band like this anymore. Well, officially they never split, but most of them tour solo with their own families and bands. And whilest I was sitting in third row at Jimmy Kelly’s concert, was thinking about the last seen solo concerts of the siblings, I realized again, that we actually still got to see and listen to this individually. And I am incredibly greatful for this.
With a friend I went to Rastatt Saturday a week ago, a German city in Baden-Württemberg, not far from Baden-Baden. About a 4 hours train journey. We wanted to go to Germany to see Jimmy already last year, because he hadn’t come to Switzerland so far. But last year he did a concert break, when we decided that we finally want to go to his concert. We had already seen some of his siblings live already and now with the « Streetkid » Tour it finally worked out with him too.
The concert location, Reithalle, is directly at the train station, therefore even only 10mins from our hotel away. Super handy so. After 3 pm the area oft he concert location was still totally extincted, no concert announcements or posters at all tob e seen. You wouldn’t have thought that there was going tob e a concert later on. Yes, back then with the Kellys it was different. Unfortunately the wind didn’t get less on that afternoon, and after a short walk through the castle park we had to end our sightseeing tour because of the storm and rain. We sat at a cafe instead, all relaxed, before we went back to our hotel before the concert.
Around 6.30 pm, half an hour before doors opened, there were several fans standing in front oft he tour though, hidden under their umbrellas, fighting the wind. Everyone else was standing under the roof of a near building. Comparatively only few people were queuing though. It is a small concert hall with about 200-300 people, seated with unnumbered seats. We could get seats in 3rd row. Many went to seat even directly to the tired area in the back. Unused. The stage setting showed a black and white background of a small, French alley. An old street lamp lit up the stage in warm light, the instruments were ready. In the background you could hear little Angelo cawing into the micro „Ain’t gonna pee-pee in my bed tonight…“ – the old Kelly Family album „Keep on singing“ was playing. You already became quite nostalgic.
At 8pm a guy with a clown hat entered stage, explained the rules of the evening (photo ban), informed about the signing after the concert and announced Jimmy and the band. I admit, I almost feel off the chair out of exitement and anticipation about meeting Jimmy. After 20 years of being a fan i twas the first time, I’d meet him properly, even if only quickly. At least a small, personal thank you was possible and maybe a photo. I hoped for this for so long. The guy with the clown hat turned out to be the string bass player of the band, Johannes. I di down two albums of Jimmy, but so far I didn’t look enough into his solo projects. So I actually had no clue what to expect of this concert.
After the Kelly Family broke up after the death of their father, Jimmy Kelly tried busking again. Somehow he had to bring his wife and children through, had to start earning money with something new again. And with this he tried to find himself again as well. If you have been at the top, then it wasn’t easy to start from the beginning again. It hurt the ego quite a bit. With loads of humour, but the necessary seriousness as well loads of heart, on this tour he brings the time on the streets a bit closer to the audience. On this evening in Rastatt her remembered back to the times with his siblilngs, when they were hoofing through Europe – from pedestrian zones tot he big stadiums, with back then 100, 200 concerts a year. Similar to what I knew from his siblings. They all started to tell at some point – about positive as well as negative sides. Jimmy also told many funny, embarrassing and nice incidents in all these years – how he lived back then and what changed up to now. From his view, how he felt and feels. A deep, very personal insight into his life.
Of course he also told about how he met his actual four members band: Roger Moreno on accordeon and percussion, Johannes Vos on string bass, guitare player Thomas as well as violin player Bärbel Ehlert. Originally his wife Meike was meant to be as well, but the plans changed with three children at home, the younges only 10 months old. The setlist included mainly many solo songs („We Got Love“, „Take My Heart“, „Hold My Hand“), own versions of songs of other musician („Stand by me“, German version of „Le Moribond“) as well as busking and traditional songs („Waggon wheel“, „Good Neighbour“, „Wearing Of The Green“). Among them there were also few of his songs of the Kelly Family time like « Burning Fire » and « Nanana ». Wonderful interaction with the audience happened, loads of laughing and yes, some tears of joy and emotion as well. After such a long time Jimmy was standing in front of me on this stage – so close, in a small setting. Touchable close, so much more real than about 15-20 years ago at the huge stadium concerts of the Kelly Family.
The band inspired with great solos. And then Jimmy was also standing on stage on his own. He was reading from his book, in which several concert visitors had left messages and opinions. Between the songs he kept telling about discussions friends had overheard. And incredibly nice evening. Even after a 3 hours concert (exkl. 10-15 break) I would still have loved to listen to him for hours. And to quickly meet him after the concert, of course was a very special highlight.
If not on this, then for sure latest on the next tour I will visit one of his concerts again. And maybe one day there might be even a concert in Switzeralnd.