A NIGHT of two Chris De Burgh albums performed in succession, one of which is based on a 19th century story of smuggling, is one for purist fans only, you would think.

But for anyone like myself who grew up listening to the cosy sound of this popular balladeer blaring from the radio in the 80s, it was an evening of introduction to a musical showman.

Beginning with De Burgh's 2010 album Moonfleet, the stage came alive with storm lamps and seafaring visuals. The album was inspired by John Meade Falkner's novel Moonfleet and the reenactment of its rousing tracks had particular resonance for this Dorset audience, with Falkner having grown up in Weymouth and Dorchester - inspired to write Moonfleet by the nearby landscape after his father became curate at Buckland Ripers.

I never expected a performer who I identified so closely with pop music to slide so comfortably into a storytelling role, bringing passion, drama and poignancy to the stage.

And then, the second half of the show - the performance of 1986's Into the Light - brought the moment we were all waiting for. Those first few instantly recognisable bars of Lady in Red and De Burgh's vocals - still as powerful and alternately delicate as ever to match the fragility of that well loved track and the fleeting moment it describes. I was gobsmacked to read that in 2009 De Burgh was criticised in a review for leaving the stage and dancing with and hugging audience members while performing the song. Ten years later, luckily for Bournemouth, De Burgh still departs that stage and engages with the audience, some even dressed all in red, who, no doubt, will never forget that moment for as long as they live.

In an age of streaming and downloading individual album tracks there's a lot to be said for enjoying an album in the way the artist intended it to flow. Songs with a message like The Leader, The Vision and What About Me told the story they were intended to following on from the tenderness of For Rosanna, a track De Burgh originally wrote for his two-year-old daughter taking on extra poignancy more than 30 years on.

I may have been initially surprised at the intensity of fans' devotion to Chris De Burgh (two audience members had come from Australia and undergarments were thrown at the stage!) but after witnessing for myself the seasoned showmanship of this much-loved singer, I can fully understand.