Pictured above: Scullion, My Bloody Valentine, Therapy?, James Vincent McMorrow, Rusangano Family… and the Joshua Trio
Last week, in our weekly, week-ending €25 Golden Discs voucher bonanza, we asked YOU to pinpoint your all-time favourite live Irish music moments. The specific format for the answer went along these lines…
‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was_________________________at_____________________because____________’
It was a serious struggle this time around to pin down a winner, which just goes to display the breadth and depth of our little island’s talent over the years (so support it where you can, please).
But there can only be one winner…
Wait for It… is the poster’s name. Talking My Bloody Valentine at SFX (unfortunately, no bootlegs of the event are in embeddable format online, so we’ve included Only Shallow from their Vancouver gig that year above).
“The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was My Bloody Valentine at the SFX in May, 1992 because to this day, I have never had a more visceral experience of live music. Including seeing the band themselves again twice, indoors, since they came back in 2008, I have never heard anything so loud. Ticketholders left the venue to listen from the footpath outside. Even wearing earplugs, people still had to cover their ears, especially during ‘You Made Me Realise’.
Added to this was a light show that seemed specifically designed to disorient and confuse (such as the blindingly bright lights turned on the audience during YMMR’s ‘holocaust’ section). I stood by the sound desk and saw staff from the SFX begging for the volume to be lowered, met with firm headshakes. I can’t say it was an entirely pleasant experience, but it was one I’ll never forget, which is what makes it the best.”
That’s what you want, in fairness.
Other runners from the shortlist, in (near-)chronological order…
Fiach: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was: Scullion, at O’Flaherty Theatre UCG 1981, because of the sheer passion, talent and pleasure in performance that was so obvious from each of the members of the group. They had just released ‘Balance and Control’, so some of the songs were new to me, and each one blew my young mind. Sitting in the front row, I was agog at the veins in Philip King’s neck pulsating through the tragedy of ’18’, the energy of ‘Tension’ and the fun of ‘Can I Have My Money Back’ by Gerry Rafferty. The sheer range of emotions from the whole group was enthralling. Greg Bolan’s fingers flying all over the frets, and Sonny Condell’s quirky comments all helped to make this my favourite gig by any group ever.’
Frilly Keane: ‘Hot Press Battle of the Bands thing in Henrys. 88’ish. A Nordie Crowd called Trenchtown (no streaming audio to link to – Mike). That lead singer would have given Thatcher an orgasm. I know they came second in their heat so didn’t progress. If anyone has a clue, please let me know what happened to them. Anyway around the same time, like that same year, An Emotional Fish, Trinity Ball – Arts Block. Incredible, and probably one of their very early gigs. Also the support that night, Cypress Mine, who had a great track : ‘Sugar Beet God’. Zig and Zag used ta’ sing it. Anyway, all long forgotten. Pity about Trenchtown, we missed out.’
Lorcan Nagle: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was Therapy? at Sunstroke ’94, because they didn’t let up from the moment they hit the stage, and blew every band there out of the water – including the Chili Peppers at their height. I saw some guy wander out of the moshpit holding one of his shoes with a big cut on his head, telling everyone who asked if he was alright that it was all just good fun.’
Liam Deliverance: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was The Jimmy Cake at the Tivoli, around 1996 because it was a smallish gig and it was easy to get up front. The band consisted of around 12 members playing a wonderful variety of instruments including accordion and clarinet. They were described as experimental rock which didn’t mean a whole lot to me at the time plus I had no expectations as to what a band called the “Jimmy Cake” would be like, I thought it was a silly name but was to quickly learn not to judge a book by it’s cover. They played a set with each member giving their all and producing a wonderful experience, your head would be going from one musician to another, songs were 7/8 or minutes long and the audience was left feeling they had seen something special and unique. Have a Jimmy Cake CD somewhere, must have a look for it.’
HyperGlobalCompuMegaNet: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was James Vincent McMorrow upstairs in Whelan’s before he was signed circa 2008/09. His songs weren’t as ‘produced’ as they are now, it was just him, his guitar, and a ridiculous voice that kept the small crowd captivated.’
Miriam: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was Rusangano Family at Dolans, Limerick because they are an unbelievable live performance of Irish hip-hop. They do loads for promoting multiculturalism and always support young and upcoming acts. Their energy is top class and frankly they are one of the best live acts I have ever seen.’
James Chimney: ‘The Joshua Trio in the Baggot Inn sometime in the late 80’s. They knew what the little scut was up to!’