Wednesday 4 October 2017

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 3

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 3

These posts are becoming like a trip through my memory designed by Escher. Once again I finished with the eighties only to be tripped up by further memories as I tried to make my way into the nineties...

The Fall - Sadler's Wells Theatre, September 1988

This was my first time seeing The Fall and remains possibly the strangest 'rock gig' I ever attended. This is largely because it was NOT a rock gig but a ballet, with The Fall playing live while the Michael Clarke dancers performed a ballet.
A choreographed dance representing a football match between Rangers and Celtic; Brix being wheeled around on a giant hamburger and Mark E. walking forwards and backwards declaiming as if there were no distractions.
The scene where the dancers 'played' a football match was the visual highlight and New Big Prinz and Dead Beat Descendant the remembered aural ones.
I would see more Fall gigs, some better, some worse, but none quite as memorable as this one. Perhaps you can see why in these photos - http://thefall.org/news/pics/88oct08_photos.html

Foetus Interruptus - September 1988, Town and Country Club
Jim Thirlwell had a great line in names featuring Foetus to ensure commercial traction - Scraping Foetus off The Wheel; The Foetus All-Nude Revue; You've Got Foetus On Your Breath and many more. He had briefly been a member of The Bad Seeds and worked with many, many people from Matt Johnson (The The) to Lydia Lunch & on & on. It can be confusing because many of his 'collaborations' are between two and more of his own personae.
Foetus Interruptus were a live band he had put together and it was a gig that seemed mysterious in advance. There was no telling what would happen. In the end it proved to be a relatively straightforward rock concert, no buckets of blood or performance art antics.
However Thirlwell himself was compelling. I remember coming to the conclusion that he was a smaller, younger, steroid addicted psychopathic version of Gary Glitter; with a stare you didn't want to be on the end of.

The Go-Betweens - 15th May, 1986 - Trinity College Cricket Pitch
There is something magical about my memories of this day, from the sun showers to sitting next to half the band in The Buttery Bar later in the afternoon, too respectful of their privacy (tongue-tied and shy) to start a conversation. It was this afternoon that came back to me when I heard Grant McLennan had died and it remains a treasured memory. I would see them again a couple of times, including as support to R.E.M in the RDS, memories of which are somewhat marred by alcohol, although I do remember being so frustrated by the appalling sound that I said I would never go to a gig in the R.D.S. again. However, if alcohol can distort sound it may have done so on that occasion..
I also saw them in the 1990's but that belongs in a different post, I'm still stuck in the eighties here..

Here's what I wrote at the time of Grant's death about that day in Trinity:
"On a spring day in the early Nineteen Eighties I saw them play Spring Rain to a crowd on the cricket field in Trinity College. Their performance was interrupted by showers in the sunlight. There were fears of electrocution and there was certainly electricity in the air. I could feel it all along my spine. They were one of the major claimants to the throne of the perfect pop band.

That they didn't have showers of No 1's was a great injustice and a loss to popular consciousness. The afternoon of that transcendent performance I sat at a pub table beside half the band and mumbled echoes of my admiration.

Once again I mumble my admiration but through the echoes of tears. A little paragraph in todays paper placed a final full stop on the late renaissance of The Go Betweens with news of the death of Grant McLennan.  That No 1 will have to be No 1 in heaven. Lucky heaven. But we still have the music, Lucky us."

*****I was sent the photos after posting this. Much thanks to Jessica Moss who took them! I think they are the only photographic evidence on the net! Click on them to see them LARGER. Kudos to anyone who can pick themselves out in the audience..

The Sugarcubes - SFX, 14th October 1989
Memories of this gig are a bit like fog being blown away by the wind. I remember that Motor Crash was a highlight for me, as it was on the album. I also remember that the personality of Einar came across very strongly (too strongly!) but they are half grasped memories. Drink or other intoxicants may have played a part in this vagueness or simply time, which erases some things while leaving others clear and distinct (although perhaps inaccurate).

Aidan Walsh and The Screaming Eagles - McGonagles - mid/late 1980's
I do remember Aidan Walsh in McGonagles though. There was always a thin line with Aidan where you wondered were we laughing with him or at him. He would seem lost as the words evaded him but then he was also more audacious that any other rocker in town and I remember a cracking version of Rock my Brainy Head which lit up the gig. Stumbling, shambling and shamanic, Aidan is a true original, and there ain't enough of them.
Some sense of the wonder that is Aidan is captured here - http://www.rte.ie/archives/2017/0330/863821-aidan-walsh-master-of-the-universe/

Bob Dylan; Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; Roger McGuinn - Valby-Hallen, Copenhagen - September 21st, 1987
This was a strange gig where my twenty year old self felt incredibly young and edgy amoung the ageing middle class audience that had gathered to be disappointed that Bob hadn't given them the benediction of a "Hello Copenhagen", or even a 'Hello' instead of marvelling at his brilliant guitar playing and the wonderfully sympathetic backing supplied by Mr Petty and the Heartbreakers.  The show did open with what I found a pretty insipid solo turn from ageing Byrd McGuinn.
The Heartbreakers gave a good performance and were better than I had expected but it has not stuck in my memory in any significant way. However it was my first time to see Bob live and it was not a disappointment to me. He played a couple from the peerless Highway 61 Revisited which was what I wanted to see.
The set lists I can find online don't mention the return of McGuinn to the stage including a blinding 'electric' version of 8 Miles High with the Heartbreakers and Dylan as his backing band. Pretty wondrous performance which redeemed him in my eyes. If I imagined it I must congratulate myself... But it is Bob, often turning his back on the audience and seeming to live inside the music that I remember most. I would see him again, and again....
Here's the setlist from Expecting Rain.
Forever Young / Shelter From The Storm / When I Paint My Masterpiece / Seeing The Real You At Last / Dead Man, Dead Man / Clean-Cut Kid / Ballad Of A Thin Man / Joey / Watching The River Flow / Desolation Row / License To Kill / In The Garden / Chimes Of Freedom / Gotta Serve Somebody

Thanks again due to all at https://hopecollectiveireland.com, who are selling the book that inspired me to try to excavate my own gig-going past...

The scans above were located on the web and are not my own...


  1. The Kurious Oranj ballet was also my first (of many!] Fall gigs. My mate raved about it so much when he got home that his parents decided they wanted to go as well,so he got to go back a few days later! I don’t think they ended up being that impressed....

  2. Hoping this comment works this time... The Kurious Oranj ballet was my first Fall gig (of many!) too. My mate raved about it so much when he got home that his parents decided they ought to see it too, so he got to go back again later in the week! Not sure they were too impressed though...

    1. Great story! My parents were not the sort to go to see Ballet, or The Fall.

  3. I was there too. Regarding: smaller, younger, steroid addicted psychopathic version of Gary Glitter; with a stare you didn't want to be on the end of.

    1. Thanks Guy. Of course it turned out that GG was a psychopathic original.