Sunday 30 June 2013

A Night For Christy and Dublin

I felt like kissing the ground when we got off the plane in Dublin, it had been 14 months since we'd been here, the longest time I've gone without visiting since I first started going there in 1989 (yikes!!) It was great to be back, like coming home.

Debbi and I stopped off at the Avoca Cafe in Suffolk Street on our way to the hotel and had some welcome tea and I had a gorgeous mixed berry scone, which I can honestly say is the nicest scone I've ever had, the biggest too! We passed by The Olympia Theatre and popped into the box office to pick up our tickets for the A Night for Christy benefit concert for Christy Dignam singer with Aslan who is fighting cancer, that evening. The fellow in the office said the upper circle - the gods - was unreserved seating and we would need to be there early to queue to get the best seats.

We got to The Clarence Hotel at 11am and luckily our room was available. It was a large twin room with a a small seating and office area that over-looked the Liffey.  We had lunch in The Study which was being used as a temporary restaurant as The Tea Room is now closed and being stripped out to be re-opened as Cleaver East next month.  The food was good, but not to the standard of The Tea Room, they were cooking it in the function room on the first floor!

We did some shopping for wine and nibbles and then got ready for the gig. The Olympia Theatre was less than five minutes walk from the hotel. We passed a load of youngsters excitedly waiting at the stage door - probably for Jedward, yes, we were going to have the joy of Jedward this evening, never thought I'd see the day lol! We went past the theatre and down a small lane and waited at the entrance for the upper circle, there were two other women ahead of us in the queue, we were three and four.

The doors were opened a little before 7pm and we climbed flight after flight after flight of red carpeted stairs until we breathlessly reached upper circle. We got seats right at the centre front of the circle. We certainly were certainly close to the gods, it was very steep and I could almost touch one of the three huge glass chandeliers that hung from the ceiling that was painted red and decorated with white stucco. The Olympia was know as'The Star of Erin' music hall when it opened in 1879 and was then renamed Dan Lowerys Music Hall in 1881. It was finally given the name of The Olympia Theatre in 1923. It. is a wonderful old Victorian theatre, red velvety seats, brass rails, main colours red, white and gold, boxes to each side, you can feel it's history, it's ingrained in the walls.

Deb and I have only seen Aslan play live once in Vicar Street quite a few years ago, unfortunately our visits to Dublin have since not coincided with them playing. It was an amazing raucous show, and Christy performed like I've never seen anyone perform before, we just couldn't take our eyes of him, he was mesmerising.

Ryan Sheridan
While we were waiting they screened a new documentary called Please Don't Stop about Aslan's 30 year career, made last year before Christy was diagnosed with cancer.

The show proper started around 8.30pm,  compered  by none other than Guggi, who did a really good job. It consisted of various artists performing mainly Aslan songs with the other four members of the group. There was a myriad of Irish artists, new and old, some of the younger ones I didn't know.  Others such as Tom Dunne (Something Happens),The Horslips, Steve Wall (The Stunning) brought back many memories of my early days visiting Dublin and the fantastic bands around then that showed so much promise, most fizzled away, U2 were already megastars, Aslan never hit those heights, but not because of any lack of talent, but after 30 years they are still delighting audiences.
Gavin Friday

Gavin Friday performed a very theatrical version of Bowie's Five Years. Jedward, hair kind of coiled on top of their heads lol, did a muted performance - for them, no cartwheels across the stage. With their relatively normal looking hair I noticed for the first time that they are good looking young men. They got a massive reception from the young girls!

I had never heard of Ryan Sheridan, but his performance really impressed me. He reminded me a bit of Bono in his performance and how he engaged the crowd, he certainly has stage presence, plus a good voice.

U2 performed This Is via video link from New York. It was a powerful version of a fabulous song, they really did the song justice. There had been rumours that Bono was going to appear in person but he didn't.

All the bands came on stage to perform This Time with Christy's daughter Keira. Finally for Aslan's most famous song, Crazy World, Christy himself came on stage, the whole place erupted, there was such a out-pouring of love towards him that it was incredibly moving. He looked frail and thin, but was buoyed up by the crowd. I noticed Keira wiping away tears as she stood behind her father and at times she had to help him out with the singing. I think it was very hard for him to perform but I'm sure the love he received from the crowd gave him a boost.  For around five minutes after he left the stage the crowd kept singing.

I thought that I'd be really disappointed if Bono didn't perform in person, but when it came to it I realised it didn't matter at all. This evening, this gig was for Christy and that's what it was all about and it was a brilliant gig. Let's hope one day when he is better we will be able to see him perform live once more.

Christy Performing Crazy World

Set List  -  First Half
Paul Walsh – Gotta Make It
Riptide Movement – Lucy Jones pt1
Gavin James – Chains
Jedward – She’s So Beautiful
Steve Wall – Pretty Thing
Danny O’Reilly – Hurt Sometimes
Original Rudeboys – Lucy Jones pt2
Bressie – Angie
Jerry Fish – Rock’n’Roll Suicide
Ryan Sheridan - Wish You Were Here
Gavin Friday – Five Years
Adrian Kennedy
Dublin Gospel – Down on Me

Second Half6
Horslips – Different Man
Damien Dempsey – Bullets and Diamonds (From a Studio in London)
Paul Brady - We Did
Mary Black & Don Mescall - Too Late for Hallelujah
Mark Feehily – Where’s the Sun
Kiera Dignam - Catch Your Fall
Tony Fenton (speaking)
Tom Dunne – Rainman
U2 – This Is (Live from Electric Lady Studios NY)
Kiera Dignam with all other acts –This Time
Aslan - Crazy World
After the show we went back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar, Gavin Friday came in with a few friends. There was a group of loud drunk men near us some of who ended up getting chucked out of the hotel!

We went to our room ordered room service meals, opened a bottle of wine and chatted until it was light outside! I love holidays!

June 22nd. Needless to say we had a long lie in.  We had breakfast served in our room (they serve it until 11am, very civilised in my opinion LOL!) We saw a guy sitting in the middle of the busy road outside the hotel shouting "Do me a favour!" to a group of lads who were in the car he sat in front of. Think he knew them as he just picked on their car, he eventually got up unscathed.

We had a really lazy day, wandered down to the bar for a drink or too and had our dinner in The Study. There was a tableful of very loud, very drunk men there (drunks seemed to be following us on this trip!) They really got on our nerves and spoiled the atmosphere a bit. Had a few drinks in the bar before heading back to our room.

It was a very short trip, but lovely to be back once more. Roll on October when we will be back for a whole week!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball Tour, Glasgow June 18th 2013

The sun shone down onto the crowd at Hampden Park in Glasgow and I was excited to be at a gig once more, Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball Tour had reached Scotland.  It had been around a year or so since my last show and it was lovely feeling that buzz and atmosphere of a live concert.  After a while one of the staff came to our area and asked if any of us wanted to move to the lower tier centre, well she didn't have to ask twice! The seats were directly in front of the stage so we were well chuffed! Maybe some corporate types did not turn up (Hampden is one of those stadiums where the stage is set on one side rather than one end, much better really.)

Bruce and the E Street Band came on-stage with no razzmatazz and launched into We Take Care of Our Own. Very early in the show Bruce went into the audience and collected sign requests, such a great thing for fans. The first request played was Jole Blon which I'd never heard of, apparently it is a traditional Cajun song that Bruce has adapted.

The pace of the show was fast, rockin' and fun, the sign requests, the frequent physical contact with the crowd Bruce had certainly made me and the crowd feel very much part of the show, even in a large stadium like Hampden. The boss certainly knows how to engage with his audience.

The pace slowed up for a tribute to the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, stalwart of the E Street Band, who died exactly two years previously. Bruce made it personal by asking people to remember their own lost loved ones too and as he sang My City of Ruins it was very emotional, the whole crowd sang "Rise up" so loudly that the words must have been heard echoing through many streets of Glasgow. Jake Clemons, Clarence's son, played the sax, it must have been very moving for him to see the reaction of the audience. It was sad, yet also full of love and at the end there was an explosion of applause as everyone rose up, it was one of the most touching, spontaneous and emotional moments I've seen at a concert, amazing.

The next sign request was Dancing in the Dark. One girl had a sign saying she wanted to dance with Jake, she was brought up on stage and danced with him and ended up playing a guitar and singing. When she was back in the crowd a camera caught her expression which was priceless. Another lad asked for a pick, Bruce gave him one, from the look on the lad's face you'd think he'd given him a million pounds lol!

Bruce got a middle-aged woman called Hazel up to dance, then after a conversation with her he also got a young girl up, who I think was the woman's daughter, and he danced with both of them. Hazel gave him a tartan scarf.

Next, a very poignant moment, a sign request was for Tougher Than the Rest, one of my favourites. Bruce had picked out a sign from a girl that bore a photo of a man and asked for this song to be played in memory of Shug, the girls dad, 1951-2013. The lovely thing was that at the end of the song Bruce went back to the crowd, found the girl and gave her back the sign, what a lovely gesture. Certainly a teary-eyed moment.

We all sang along with Waitin' on a Sunny Day as the sun started dipping down in the sky. The party continued, for that's what it was like, a party. The band was very tight musically and Bruce's voice in fantastic form, and they were having a party on-stage too. It's so wonderful to see musicians truly love what they are doing so much. Listening to the songs from throughout the decades it struck me at how many genres have influenced the music, rock, soul, folk, gospel to name a few.

Great to hear more faves of mine Badlands, Born to Run and Rosalita. Towards the end the crowd wanted more and more, Bruce laughed,

"I've gotta go home, I'm sixty-fuckin-three!  I'm gonna have a heart attack!"

He's got energy and stamina that belie those years, I mean, who else does three and a half hour shows? You certainly get your money's worth with Bruce

A rockin' Twist and Shout/La Bamba followed by Shout, a massive hit for Glasgow girl Lulu in the 60's seemed to be the end of the show. The E Street Band left the stage, but Bruce didn't, he got a guitar and played a fantastic acoustic version of Thunder Road. It was stunning, and what a way to end the show. I looked around, usually by this time in a gig a lot of people are leaving to catch the transport or avoid the traffic jams. The aisles were clear, like me, people were transfixed, we knew we were lucky enough to be watching a true music legend.

So, three and a half hours after coming on stage (with no interval) Bruce finished the gig. He showed what a show should be all about, music, the band and the audience, in the right hands you need no more than that.  He may be "sixty-fuckin'-three" but he can show artists much younger than himself how to rock!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Bono "Meaning of Life" RTE Interview with Gay Byrne, 25th June

Bono was interviewed by Gay Byrne for his Meaning of Life series of interviews which was shown on RTE One tonight.  It covered his childhood, his parents' inter-religious marriage, Lipton village, how he met Ali, his relationship with his father, tax affairs, his faith and activism. Nothing really new in the interview to the U2 fan. 

Photo: Irish Independent
When asked about some of the people he has had to talk with as part of the activism, Gay asked if it was sometimes like talking to the devil. Bono relied that he didn't want his activism seen just as the creation of the left and leave the right - and a lot of people - out, he wanted to have,

"A radical centre." 

He obviously still has the passion and drive for that work and said that 7256 less children die everyday because of changes over the last few years. At present he said they are working on transparency to defeat corruption.  You can't help but admire him for the time and dedication he puts into his activism.

He seemed a bit rattled when asked about the taxation issue, which Gay said he felt he had to ask about. Bono came across very much as the businessman and said that he was tough on that front, and that U2 were, 

"Tax sensible as every business is."  

Gay also asked if Bono thought he was now removed from ordinary people. Bono replied that he probably was,

 "I don't think myself removed, but I must be." 

Which really is inevitable for people in his position, fame does isolate "celebrities", though we fans know that Bono makes himself as accessible as is possible.

Nothing was mentioned at all about a new album, but the Irish Independent had an interesting snippet today from Gay Byrne that kind of confirms it's going to happen this autumn woo hoo!

Broadcaster Gay Byrne said that Bono was "very fussy" about when his episode of 'The Meaning Of Life' would be shown on RTE television. The U2 frontman was "adamant" that his recorded interview go out months ahead of when the full series broadcasts in the autumn, as it would overlap with publicity for his band's new album......"He's very fussy," Byrne said. "U2 have a lot going on later this year with musical activities, so he was adamant that this should not be part of that.

Monday 10 June 2013

Shopping and Graveyards

Had a busy day today! I met up with friend Christine and we went out for a late lunch. We then drove a short distance to Gretna Gateway outlet "Just to look in M & S." There wasn't much there and the other shops somehow drew us in, especially shoe/handbag ones LOL!  I ended up buying two pairs of shoes, and, the bargain of the year, a lovely leather handbag for £10, I was well chuffed.

We eventually got round to doing the original purpose of the trip out, genealogical research. We were going to look round graveyards which are a haven of information for family research. Our first stop was in Langholm, where drove up a steep, narrow road through woods full of bluebells to the graveyard. You may think me strange, but I like graveyards, they are peaceful and this one was in such a beautiful setting, high on a hill, surrounded by mountains, and it was a beautiful day (we've had over two weeks of glorious sunny and warm weather.)  There were two areas, the older graveyard was surrounded by stone walls, this was the one we were interested in. Both Christine and I have ancestors from Langholm and though we saw the same surnames we didn't find any of our people.

Christine said she knew of a very old cemetery in the countryside just outside of the west side of  Langholm. So we drove there. It was indeed very, very old. There was a rusty iron gate that was difficult to open, and once we were in we were greeted by a totally overgrown graveyard full of stones and memorials, many leaning at precarious angles. The ground underfoot was uneven with knee high grass, we had to be very careful not to fall.  It was very peaceful there, the only sounds being birdsong, the river nearby and the occasional car passing by on the road.  I got photos of a couple of stones that probably were from my family of Dalgliesh, though not direct ancestors. As we walked back towards the car I heard a cuckoo calling, long time since I've heard one of those.

Next stop was the little church and cemetery of Ewes, a tiny hamlet a few miles out of Langholm on the A7 heading towards Hawick. I knew some of my relatives lived in that area in the 1700's but there were no gravestones that gave me any further family information there. Again it was such a beautiful location for a graveyard.  I noticed the symbols on the back of one stone (photo right) which were a bit weird!

We headed back towards Carlisle after Ewes and stopped off at Canonbie churchyard. A lot of Christine's relatives were from this little place. For the size of the place the church (built 1812) was large as was the cemetery. As at Langholm there were two areas of burial and we went to the old one. The whole place was teeming with rabbits hopping about in the sunshine, these places are havens for wildlife. We found a gravestone with lots of information about Christine's family which was brilliant.

By now we were getting tired, we'd trailed around shops and four graveyards for about five hours.  It had been a good day though, we'd got some genealogical info and the weather had been perfect. Plus it's always good to do something different and spend time with your BFF!

Saturday 1 June 2013

U2 Album being Mixed in New York - Update

Photo: Jaime Scatena

@U2 has some updates on the info that came out yesterday, seems the band has been doing a bit more than mixing the new album, such as, making a video on the roof of the studio, and for some reason Chris Martin is around now too. I am at last allowing myself to get a little excited LOL! 

Read the updated information here