A full house coupled with a glitch in the ticketing system left very little blood on the Belfast Waterfront's pristine carpet as Christy Moore and companero Declan Sinnott took the stage for what was ostensibly a home gig, opening with the spirited, in every sense, McIlhatton.
The last couple of years have not been kind to pugilistic folk mavericks, John Martyn and Bert Jansch having left the scene, leaving Christy as something of a last man standing.
But there was no sense of fragility about the singer as he ripped through an impressive back catalogue and tracks from new CD Folk Tale.
“I haven't thought of anything to say so I'll keep on singing,” he announced, and kept pretty much to that script — despite the odd typically combative interaction with an enthusiastic audience.
Moore is our great historian, singing songs of exile and suffering, which despite the high body count contain a seed of triumphant optimism, as in Compañeros and Viva la Quince Brigada. But there were more personal gems, like the feminist education that was Bees’ Wings and a little bit of Springsteen in Killarney, My Little Honda 50.
The politics are always to the fore, somewhat sweetened by Declan Sinnott's subtle Knopfler-ish textures, and while I find Only Our Rivers Run Free to be the worst kind of sentimental republican tripe, Ordinary Man, with its focus on economic injustice is spot on.
But both are very much Christy Moore's territory, and he delivers it with a unique passion.
Like the best Guinness, there is always a certain bitterness beneath the cream.