It’s been an interesting few weeks as I followed Escape Act & Tom McShane across the length and breadth of our fair isle, touring in support of their new 7″ release.
It was quite a journey – from rabid fans in Derry (“OMG, are you guys Escape Act? I heard you on Colin Murray – He’s the new John Peel!), to aloof music-browsers in Tower Records, it was quite the spectrum. All said, all of the dates were enormously positive, and unique in their own way…
Derry was a raucous environment, and the city has a frenetic energy at the best of times – then, in true summer-time fashion, 50 or so Italian students landed in off of a bus halfway thru Tom’s set and made quite the crowd
Tower Records in Dublin was a chance to see if either act could control it’s sound to play in such a small space – with a liberal use of “jazz hands”, both Tom & Escape act played mezmerizing sets to the ever-changing, vinyl browsing crowd.
The 3 hour, Friday rush-hour trek back from Dublin to Belfast that same day was a marathon for everyone, but it was worth it for the show at Lavery’s that awaited that night. The crowd was expectant and warm for the show, with only one appearance by the cheap and sleazy Belfast punter (“Why would I pay to get in when I can watch the show from the door?” is an actual quote from one guy.)
Back in Dublin only 1 day later, upstairs at Whelan’s was a wonderful venue. A sign above the bar reads “Dear Customers: Whelan’s is a listening venue. Please respect the artists and remain quiet during the performance” It’s rare that venues understand simple principles such as this – between trying to make a buck from artists and draw a crowd, sometimes the music is simply lost in the shuffle.
Luckily, the music was at the fore that night – I have to admit to being a bit star struck by the opener, Mumblin’ Deaf Ro. Ever since Neassa (from The Terribles) sent me his album last year I’ve been besotted by the Dublin song-smith’s lyrical story-telling and mesmerizing guitarwork – I’d highly recommend you check him out – http://www.myspace.com/mumblindeafro
A week later, Cork’s welcome was a warm one – plenty of radio play and press made for a good, if chatty, turnout. The nattering masses made getting people’s attention quite difficult, but the lads were up to the challenge: at one point Chris from Escape Act was rocking so hard he kicked over the half the drumkit. The move certainly served it’s purpose and turned a few heads. Jim @ Plugd records was enormously enthusiastic about the 7″ and the store is one of the best I’ve seen – check it out if you’re ever down there!
The swan-song, then, was in Limerick last night – the ever-fabulous Vertigo Smyth, as he had in Cork, played an amazing set augmented by some wonderful double-bass and ukelele work. The after-party was supposed to be at a place in Limerick called Daphnes – word had it that the bar never closed but rumours abounded that local law-enforcement had started to crack down on the revelry. So it was, that when we arrived at the venue at 3am there were various crowds of folks milling about hoping to get the signal to enter the aladdin’s cave of late night boozing. The fact that there were crowds outside what was supposed to be a “secret” shebeen kind of negated any chance of getting in – Limerick’s worst kept secret indeed. Good thing there was a house party to be had!
So here I am drinking a hair-of-the-dog in Limerick, and I’m still processing all of this – the good, the bad and the smelly. Once my head is in a place where it’s fully functional, I’m sure I’ll have some insight. Till then, I’m just gonna marinade in the whole, messy lot. Yum.