Thursday 21 December 2017

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 4

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 4
This post has been sitting in my 'drafts' folder for a while so I thought I'd let it go. It's more of my imperfectly remembered tales of gigs in the eighties.

Iggy Pop - National Stadium Monday, 12th December, 1988
I thought this gig was circa 1990 but have recently discovered that it, too, was in the 1980's. This was Iggy with Steve Jones on rhythm guitar and my memories are shot through with vivid moments like when Iggy shoved the microphone in my face during Wanna Be Your Dog and my head turned into some sort of mush; the faint tracery of scars all over Iggy's torso; the sheer excitement of being so close to such abandoned shamanism, his zipper open far enough to suggest exhibitionism; the sheer physical exertion - At the time I thought "He's 41 and he's still like this!" Now I think "He was only 41!"
This crowd picture seems to feature me in the top left. I remember the position and the shirt...

Phoenix Park Festival - U2; Simple Minds; Eurhythmics; Big Country; Steel Pulse; Perfect Crime
I've moved on from trying to choose my favourite gig to trying to mention any gigs that left a sufficient mark on my memory. This was the first, and one of the only, festivals I attended. It was certainly an experience.
From almost being stabbed to witnessing one of our party turning blue after an overdose it certainly did seem like stepping out into the big bad world... Indeed the crowd was swollen by an extra 5,000 plus when a long length of fencing was pushed over and the line of bouncers breached by sheer weight of numbers. An air ambulance was stoned when it tried to land, a group of happy anarchists created a drinking fountain by breaking and bending a water pipe, saving many from the extortionate price of drinks; Annie Lennox getting pissed off when pelted with piss (don't blame her!); the gig being stopped because of dancing on the tin roof of the stand...
The night was brought to a suitably violent conclusion when the crowds from the gig and the simultaneous laser show rioted and the victims included an English journalist batoned by some over eager Garda as he sheltered in a doorway...
It's more the event I remember than a gig. U2's bluster started the process of waning for me soon after and by the time I went to see them in Croke Park the following year it was R.E.M. who were the main attraction.

R.E.M. - Croke Park and RDS
R.E.M. at Croke Park in 1985 were the support to U2. My love affair with U2 was ending and a love affair with REM in full bloom. R.E.M. were roundly ignored by the vast majority of the audience and seemed a little out of place on the stadium stage, Stipe's raincoat and self-absorption seemed built for small intimate venues but the larger stage would soon be their home.
My memory of the U2 gig is the audience jumping in time to the strains of 11O'Clock Tick Tock causing warm gusts of wind to rise from below. It was BIG, and synchronised, and less and less interesting to me...
A few years later I saw R.E.M. again and this time it was again the support group I was most excited by. However an out of control drinking game (having a drink in every pub between Kehoes on South Anne Street and the RDS) on the way to the venue and desperate sound made this a less than compelling gig although the line up still excites me, even in retrospect.... My memory is that the bands sounded years away even on the day, although my internal sensory imbalance may have contributed...

Rosskilde Festival, July 3rd, 1987 - Iggy Pop; The Pretenders; Echo and the Bunnymen; The Triffids; Sort Sol; Curtis Mayfield....

This was a strange day. I had gone to Copenhagen with some friends and we decided to go out to Roskilde to see if we could hear much of the festival from the perimeter, or even gain entry somehow. Being pretty broke, buying tickets was not an option.

We got the train out to Roskilde and started to circle the perimeter fence. There was camping around outside as it was a three day event. We passed through one of the comping areas and went through another gate. Fifty yards further on the fence turned and when we went around the corner we realised that we had entered the main festival area and so were set up for a days free music.

I retain fairly clear memories of The Bunnymen (a lot better in the SFX), The Pretenders (disappointing - like a so-so Pretenders covers band) and Iggy (mighty). The rest of the day is hazy and although the line up was stellar I remember coming away with the sense that outdoor festivals weren't at the same level as 'proper' rock gigs. The atmosphere, and the sound, dissipated somewhat in the open air...

Public Enemy & The Golden Horde - Cricket Ground, TCD and Trinity Ball 20th May, 1988
Seeing The Go-Betweens at the cricket grounds in Trinity was strange enough but the sight of Public Enemy, flanked by their military style "Security of the First World" posse was truly bizarre.
Supported by the irrepressible Golden Horde their appearance at the lunchtime gig was one of the most improbable sights I have seen. Their fake uzis caused some frisson with college authorities - I forget the details.
They played in College Square later that night and I have vague memories as I was in full on drunken student mode. The story of the night has a neat bookend as on the dart home from the Trinity Ball the next morning we were playing with a cheap plastic gun when what sounded like a gunshot rang through the carriage and a girl in the seat next to us suddenly had blood running down her face.
I saw a man in the seats across the aisle pull back his coat and reach for a Uzi which he had concealed there and start to draw it out. He stopped and came across, sweat starting to drip from his forehead, introducing himself as a Garda and taking the cheap plastic gun. At this stage it became clear that a stone had been thrown at the train and it had cracked the glass against which the girl had been leaning her head.
The detective walked away, out of the carriage but came back later, still sweating. He had clearly almost pulled the trigger and was angry with himself, and us. Had our gun been a more convincing replica I could have missed out on lots of gigs..


  1. The Stars of Heaven, with Des Horde on guitar, played as the sun came up.. Good times!

    1. I was probably comatose in a flowerbed. Wish I'd stayed a little more sober...