Location: The concert took place in the so-called "Alte Feuerwache", which is indeed the former fire-station of Mannheim. I got there 2 hrs. before the start, to get a place in the 1st row.
Mary: I knew her only from her CD's, so I was completely wrong about her personality. I expected someone introverted; but she is absolutely the boss on stage and has an intriguing sense of humour. (At the beginning, she invited people from the last rows to fill up the space between the stage and the first row - "that makes the atmosphere more cosy, don't be afraid, we don't smell!" - loved it!). While moving around during the song "Past the point of rescue" she cut her finger with a guitar string. I only noticed _something_ happened, but she told the audience after the song ("I'm a soldier; there is no pain!"). She sang as passionate and melodic as she does on her CDs - really a great voice!
The Band: I knew most of them from her albums. There was Carl Geraghty on saxes, Dave Early on drums and percussion, Garvan Gallagher on bass, Pat Crowley on electric piano, Frank Gallagher on violin, whistle and keyboards. I do not recall the name of the guitar player, but it was definitely not Declan Sinnott.
The Songs: There's a train that leaves tonight (last song) - Ellis Island -- Katie - Trying to get the balance right -- Still believing - Golden mile - Babes in the wood - Adam at the window -- No frontiers - Past the point of rescue - Carolina Rua - Columbus - Another day (with support act Janis Ian) -- Summer sent you - Flesh and blood - The holy ground (Trad.) -- The moon and St. Christopher -- The circus - Soul sister (first song) - All that hammering -- Don't explain -- Only a woman's heart (with Janis Ian).
Of course I don't recall the sequence - as one might see I went through my CDs to pick up what I heard this evening. She did a great version of Ellis Island, about 10 min long, with solo parts for every instrumentalist - really gave me the shiver. Near the end of the concert, she made the audience sing the chorus of Only a woman's heart (or at least what we called singing... ).
All in all, she sang over 2 hours, and I would have listened another 2 hrs easily! Three times we got her on stage again, then she finished with There's a train that leaves tonight ("nothin' here that makes me wanna stay" - hint, hint!)
The Audience: I had the impression most of them didn't know her before - mostly routine concert visitors. But surely she made new fans this evening. The concert wasn't sold out, but there was not much space left (say 300 of 350).
Merchandising: CDs and a live video from her concert at Royal Albert Hall (got it!). "I'll do now the title song of our new album The circus - it is on sale over there!" (that grin!)
Support Act: As mentioned above - Janis Ian. I hadn't heard of her before, but now I know (through All Music Guide) she comes from New York, had her best times in the 70's with some sort of hit single (Seventeen - which she did this evening). I'd categorize her as folk-rock singer/songwriter; in her last song she did a stunning guitar solo.
Beverages: An Irish brewery sponsored this event, and they sold their Irish Stout beer from the cask. I must say - Irish beer and Irish music fit perfectly!
Some final remarks: I really don't understand why they kept this concert as a secret. It was really by accident that I saw the one and only placard in Mannheim on my way home. It had been a great evening, and I hope we won't have to wait too long for her next tour.