Tour Of Ireland

I’m back in the unseasonal cold of Amsterdam after my 875 km whistle-stop tour of Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Everything went according to plan and I got to see three excellent gigs by Brendan Perry. I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to Brendan in Cork and Galway, which was an unexpected bonus.

Unfortunately, the gigs were quite poorly attended. The Dublin gig was even moved from the 1300 capacity Tripod to the poky, 300 capacity Crawdaddy, which tells you all you need to know. Apparently, the gig hadn’t been well promoted and posters advertising it had gone up around the city only the week before. What a shame.

Nevertheless, the band were in fine form during their three night stint in Ireland on this, stage two of the 2010 tour to promote Brendan’s new album, Ark. I finally got to purchase a copy of the signed tour edition, which had been delayed because of production problems and wasn’t yet on sale when I first saw Brendan on this tour in Brussels, back in March. The album gets its full retail release on 7th June.

The set that the band played was almost identical to that on stage one of the tour, with the addition of a new song, Tree Of Life.

Severance, reserved for a second encore, wasn’t played in Cork, simply because the audience failed to clap, cheer and stomp for more. The same had happened in Dublin, but there the band came back and played it, anyway. By the time the band reached Galway, Brendan was wise to Irish audience behaviour and tacked Severance onto the end of the first encore. He obviously wanted to play it.

After the gig in Dublin, I ran into Niall Gregory and Simeon Smith in the bar. Niall and Simeon had been part of the live band that Brendan had put together for the 2005 Dead Can Dance reunion tour and I had got to know them in the course of attending gigs in England and the US. It was fun to see them again.

The venue in Cork was the Pavilion, a really nice place with excellent sound and right in the centre of town. The place wasn’t even half-full, maybe 150 people, with most of the punters sitting at tables, sipping drinks. They were appreciative, though, and applauded politely after each song. That said, they failed to make much noise after the first encore, so there was no second. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and they definitely didn’t ask.

Visiting Cork gave me an excuse to stay at the Garnish House B & B again, whose home-cooked breakfasts are justifiably the stuff of legend. The porridge with Bailey’s Irish Cream has to be experienced.

The next day, I went to Galway, by far the most charming town of the three. The gig was at the Róisín Dubh on the west side of town. It’s an Irish pub with a room at the back on the canal side, where bands play. Whilst I wouldn’t normally expect to see Brendan perform in a pub, this was a nice place and the informal atmosphere set the mood for a relaxed gig.

Again, there weren’t many paying punters on the night and some of them, particularly the contingent of scantily-clad Polish girls, looked as if they’d come to the wrong gig. People even started to dance.

It was a terrific gig, though; arguably the best of the three. The sound was excellent, the audience were enthusiastic and the band were relaxed, playing a full set.

I left the backstage area at 01:30, but seeing as I hadn’t booked accommodation and was still feeling fresh, I drove back through the pouring rain to my father’s house in Greystones, south of Dublin, arriving there at 04:30. I was absolutely knackered by the time I arrived and the first hint of dawn had tinged the night sky with a deep blue hue, but at least I’d have the whole of Saturday to spend with the family; once I’d woken up, that is.

So, the trip was a huge success. I got to kill two birds with one stone and it wasn’t all that expensive, all things considered. Flights to Ireland are cheap, I needed only one night of paid accommodation and care hire is also cheap.

It was also good to spend a few days on my own, collect my thoughts and consider my life thus far. No such luxury for Sarah, of course, who had the indefatigable trolls to contend with.

Baiting The Volcano

I’m hopping on a plane to Ireland Wednesday afternoon.

Apart from the obvious opportunity to see my family, Brendan Perry will be performing three concerts in Dublin, Cork and Galway to promote his new album, Ark. I’ve hired a car and will be in attendance at each of the three gigs.

Mr. Perry’s just about the only remaining active musician that I enjoy enough to board an aeroplane for, especially if it means that I’ll be away from my family for four nights. The fourth night is so that I can spend all of Saturday with my family, who would otherwise see me only briefly after Wednesday’s gig in Dublin and Friday’s in Galway, after the long drive back to the outskirts of Dublin. I’ll be spending the night in Cork on Thursday, as it makes no sense to drive back to Dublin after the gig, when I have to head back west the next day.

I’ll have some time on my hands during the days ahead, which, whilst not immediately appealing, might turn out to be a good thing. I could do with clearing my head.

I’ll miss the kids, though; and I don’t like the idea of leaving Sarah when I know she could miscarry at any time, but she doesn’t mind. A miscarriage isn’t serious, but I’d like to be there to support her when it happens… if it ever happens.

Brendan, you’d better be good tomorrow evening.

Following The Pied Piper To Ireland

There aren’t many bands left that I’d travel to see perform live; even fewer that I’d cross borders to see.

Back in April 2005, while we were still living in California, I flew to London for two days, leaving a heavily pregnant Sarah behind, in order to see Dead Can Dance play twice at the climax of their reunion tour. The band hadn’t played live for nine years and the reunion tour might mark the last dates the band would ever play.

A few months later, we moved to Amsterdam, a move immediately preceded by Dead Can Dance’s announcement of the North American leg of their tour. So, in September, I flew back to California to take in two consecutive shows in Oakland, followed by gigs in Hollywood and San Diego. If only the band had first toured North America and then Europe, I would have been on the right continent for each leg of the tour. As it turned out, the logistics were bad, but the gigs justified every cent of the expense.

Anyway, Dead Can Dance are no more, but we still have Lisa Gerrard and, more rarely, Brendan Perry performing solo from time to time. The advantage of a solo artist is that they can’t split up.

Brendan is currently touring in promotion of his soon to be released second solo album, Ark. In fact, it was available for sale on the merchandise stand towards the end of the first leg of his 2010 tour. Unfortunately, the CDs weren’t ready in time for me to pick up a copy at the Brussels gig, which was only a few dates into the tour.

Brendan has just announced a few more gigs at the end of May, three of which are on consecutive nights in Ireland. Now, Ireland is a relatively small and easy country to get to. Flights are cheap and I have family there, so I can kill two birds with one stone and see both my father and Mr. Perry on the same trip.

The gigs in question are in Dublin, Cork and Galway. I’ll overnight in Cork on the second day, but drive back to my father’s house after the gigs in Dublin and Galway. I’ll spend the next day with the family and then fly home the day after that.

It’s going to be tough not to see the children for a few days, but if anyone can make it worthwhile, then it’s Brendan Perry. Even he doesn’t make me relish spending time in Cork, though, which is a complete armpit of a town.

Needless to say, it’s my intention to record all three gigs and share them on DIME. In fact, Brendan recently went on record, stating that he has no objection to the recording and sharing of his concerts. Of course, it’s doubtful that this enlightened view will be passed on to the security staff on the night, so stealth recording is still the most prudent approach, I feel.

Cranberry Source

I went to see The Cranberries Tuesday evening. I’m not a huge fan and it was only the second time I’d seen them. The first time must have been somewhere around 1994, I think.

They put on a good greatest hits show, but only the songs from the first two albums, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? and No Need To Argue, rise out above the rest for me.

The gig is up on The Traders’ Den for anyone who’s interested.

The Guv’nor Is Back

With no Dutch concert scheduled for this, the first leg of his 2010 tour, I drove the 2½ hours to Brussels yesterday to see Brendan Perry perform in the Orangerie hall of the Botanique.

What a joy it was to see the man perform live again as a solo artist after a hiatus of more than 10 years.

To my surprise, the venue was seated, but the seating was unassigned. I could still have had the front row if I’d wanted it, but I instead chose to sit five rows back and off to the left, in the knowledge that the sound would be much better there.

The front of the stage had only floor monitors and those were obviously pointing the wrong way, so the sound towards the centre of the first few rows would have been quite a bit inferior to that heard from my vantage point. In any case, I still had an excellent view from the fifth row.

Brendan came on early, at about 20:20. Apparently, this was to comply with the local curfew governing music events.

The audience were riveted to their seats for the entire show. You could have heard a pin drop between songs.

Brendan played a handful of his favourite Dead Can Dance songs, several songs from his forthcoming album, Ark (out in June), a Tim Buckley cover, a song from his collaboration with Piano Magic on their Ovations album, and a couple of completely new songs. The set was particularly interesting, because much of it remains unreleased at present. Ark should have been on sale by now, but has experienced production delays.

Brendan’s voice sounded richer and fuller than ever. Like a good wine, he improves with the years. The only tragedy is that the man doesn’t release material and tour more frequently. Once a decade is simply not enough.

The set was too short, but that was always going to be the case. I left feeling elated, which is just as well, because I had to miss Yeasayer in Amsterdam to go and see Mr. Perry in Brussels. There’s no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision, much as I would have liked to see Yeasayer for the first time.

The recording of the concert is available on DIME. The sound quality is excellent, one of the very best I’ve ever produced.