All posts in May 2017

“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 2

DAY THREE_Spirit Store_Dundalk 27_04_2017

Following a raucous evening in Belfast we get up with slightly sore heads and begin the journey to Dundalk. I have the ‘S.Town’ podcast as my companion on the journey and time flies.

We arrive and have plenty of time for a relaxing soundcheck and get ready for the show. The last time we were here we played the ‘full on’ set so the sonic approach could not be more different. We make sure everything sounds as it should.The show’s great and, as always, both sets fly by. We have a great time.

Dirt deed dundalk cheap (courtesy H. Magee)

Dirt deeds dundalk cheap (pun courtesy H. Magee)

We all head back to the hotel for a relatively early night. Predictably this is the night we can all hear the nightclub sound system from over the road! Bass bins that shook the bed – I’m not kidding ha ha. A great night all the same, Dundalk.

DAY FOUR_Cypress Avenue_Cork_28_04_2017

The last time we played Cypress Avenue the drum monitor fell on top of me mid-gig so I have a love/hate relationship with the place ha ha. They’re always great gigs though! We arrive with plenty of time to relax and then soundcheck.
The crowd were great tonight and we really enjoyed the show.These acoustic dates have been so enjoyable. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reworking the songs with the boys and have had great fun tackling the acoustic playing style I’ve adopted – playing brush work on the snare drum, which is a complete departure for me and a whole new technique in itself!

(Pic kind courtesy Liam Kielt Photography)

Thanks, Cork. Another great night (and no monitor landing on me this time – smashing).And so onto Galway….

Cheers
Neil
Instagram: ncooper.insta

“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 3

DAY FIVE_Roisin Dubh_Galway_29_04_2017

I’m on driving duties this morning so we head off from a grey, cold Cork but with the joy of last night’s gig still in the atmosphere.It’s a long enough slog up the motorway and there have to be a few good and tea stops for those members of the entourage still hurting from the previous night’s revelry.

I haven’t been to Galway since the last time we played there in 1998 (last century, what a thought) and that was a tremendous gig at the GPO that was promoting the Semi-Detatched album and had NME in tow for a feature in their magazine. That night was rowdy and a lot of fun so I’m expecting more of the same from the legendary Roisin Dubh, a very famous venue that has had all the greats over the years and is renowned for having impeccable taste in music.
On arrival we’re greeted by the wonder Gugai who makes us feel at home right away and we get our gear set up for the evening. Outside it’s cold, windy and granite skied but in the venue it’s a womb like glow of low lights and good vibes.

From the off the audience are good naturedly shouting for songs and joining in with the vibe of the band. There are people in crowd singing every single word of every single song abdvwere very impressed that a lot of them know the lyrics to tunes off our recent Disquiet album too. It’s one of those special nights where, personally, I feel im among friends and the warmth from the occasion nearly moves me to tears especially on Lonely Cryin’ Only and Gone. There are people from Galway with others from Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Finland all getting involved and making it something special, a night I’ll never forget.

Afterwards the rest of the boys hang out in the venue and drink and swap stories with locals, fans and old friends while enjoying the greatest hits on offer courtesy of the house DJ while I take the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. We’ve played Galway a few times before including the massive Leisurelands venue during the Troublegum tour in 1994 but I can honestly say I enjoyed this one, at Roisin Dubh, the most. Hopefully we can get a chance to come back and play an electric show in the club very soon.

The next morning while we’re packing the gear away several people approach us in the street and thank us for the show. I’m gobsmacked but very grateful. Galway, you have. Even so very lovely.

DAY SIX_Dolans_Limerick_30_04_2017

Like Galway, we hadn’t been to Limerick for a very long time but it’s also the scene of one of our legendary gigs in 1992 at the Agricultural College, a night of hanging off wooden beams and everyone stage diving the whole way back to the mixing desk. All covered by Cathi Unsworth and Steve Gullick for Melody Maker.

Arriving at the impressive Dolans venue we’re given a hearty welcome and sat down in the front of the building where we intend to have Sunday lunch and watch the Everton v Chelsea game. Myself and Richard Baker, our Tour Managing Sound engineer are Chelsea supporters which causes all kinds of banter from the friendly bar staff. The food is great and the football better as Chelsea forge a fantastic away win, 3-0 so it’s a solid start to this bank holiday Sunday.

The gig area itself looks great with a high stage overlooking a wood and stone room and a lovely onstage sound. All the local staff, lighting and sound, are very helpful and Michael informs me that Dolans is one of the venues used in the legendary Siege of Limerick metal festival, an event he’d love to attend. He mentions some underground bands that have played there in the past.

The evenings gig is completely different from all the other Irish Wood & Wire shows. It’s very quiet between songs but not in an offensive way but more like the silence at the theatre or a performance arts piece. By the second set of the evening it’s a lot more boisterous which is what we’ve come to expect and afterwards we hang around to meet everyone, a good decision as there are a lot of super-friendly people waiting to say hello and get their photo taken. Among the crowd are a couple that were present during the real life drugs bust that formed the basis for our song ‘Loser Cop’ off our album ‘Babyteeth’. This takes me back and we’re soon chatting about that fateful night in Portrush when a house party attended by myself and Fyfe was shut down by the police and ended with many of us hauled off to the Police Station. Also in the crowd was film maker, Brian Bowler, who had very kindly brought along a copy of a book by Ivor Browne for me to read. Another very touching meeting was with a group of friends who had first met me at Feile 1993 and showed me a picture of myself and them backstage. We then attempted to recreate the photo in a selfie. I’m slayed that 24 years later these lovely people are still coming to see us play.

In the dressing room afterwards we’re all saying that it’s a shame to see the end of this six gig Wood & Wire tour of Ireland and we wished there was a ton more shows as we were having so much fun. Limerick, thank you for a brilliant day. Big up to all at Dolans and to all the wonderful people we played to during the show and met afterwards. Amazing times.

Andy C

Photos from Dolans, Limerick kind courtesy PAT GUILFOYLE and you can see more of his fine work HERE

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“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 1

DAY ONE-Rehearsal/Travel Day_London/Holyhead_24_04_2017

Early start and over to London for a rehearsal/travel day. Quick chat with the lads and straight into it as we have a longish drive over to Holyhead later. Dust off the acoustics and finally get a chance to try my new Warwick acoustic bass which I got after the European tour last year as a spare for the ‘D/C-tuned’ songs in the set. Sounded wicked and was an absolute dream to play so that was a nice feeling. In addition to the 27 songs we learnt for the last tour we had a crack at Meat Abstract and Unbeliever to see how they would work in the acoustic format. Andy had a very cool fingerpicked open tuning for “Meat Abstract” and Neil’s funky brush work really brought out the groove in “Unbeliever”. Another tweak or two at first soundcheck and we reckon they’d be good to go.

Sort out the rest of the merch and tables, stools and assorted sundries and then we’re off through London trying to beat rush hour. All was going great until we began to circle Birmingham…there was a diversion (accident?) so the sat nav took us on a two hour detour through some small and picturesque villages. Not ideal as we fancied getting a proper nights rest before our early ferry the following morning.

Finally we got to the hotel to find ourselves locked out and after some misinformation as to where the keys were and a torch lit search the keys were found and we settled down to crash for a few hours.

DAY TWO_Whelans_Dublin_25_04_2017

Next morning we started bright and early for a very pleasant ferry ride over to Dublin. Been a while since I’d been on a ferry over the Irish Sea during the hours of daylight so after some decent breakfast I hang out on the blustery deck for a bit and then chat with the lads in the lounge area.

These tides...

These tides…

Soon we’re into Dublin and checked into our hotel…as its a slightly later load in we can get lunch and go for a walk in town. I’m on a bit of a mission this tour, I need the Peter Criss solo album to complete my collection of KISS solo albums and I figured Dublin would be the place to snag one at a good price. Sadly I returned empty handed but a few hours spent in record shops is never bad is it?

Over to Whelan and meet up with Herb Magee whos to be our 5th body and merch-slinger for this run. He’s just back fro the US so have a good catch up with him and hear all his gossip. Jeremy who ran the 2 shows at the Button Factory in 2015 is there today and his hospitality is as excellent as you would expect from a fellow Ballyclare man.
Soundcheck goes well, “Meat Abstract” and “Unbeliever” are slotted into a section at the start of the second set and we hang about in the dressing room before showtime. We’re doing two sets as per the Dutch shows we did last year so we have split the songs into two sets of 12-13 songs with a short 15 minute ‘drink/bathroom’ interval for the audience.

First set goes great, lots of familiar and friendly faces in the crowd and everyone seems well up for it despite it being a cold Tuesday night. The capacity crowd sang (choruses, backing vocals and on a few occasions riffs and solos!), clapped, danced and headbanged along. The first hour flew by very quick and by the time the 2nd set kicked off the atmosphere had gotten slightly more rowdy. Great stuff!Once we’d finished up and took a final bow I was completely buzzing from the atmosphere, absolutely superb vibe and a complete pleasure to play for the Dublin crowd. Thank you guys!

It was a bittersweet triumph though as today was the day our friend and label boss Eric Cook was buried after a short ilness, so him and his family were never far from our thoughts. We had some friends attending the funeral in Newcastle so they were able to relay our sympathy in person. Much appreciated.

After a quick pack up we hop into the van and drive through the still busy streets to get a bit of decent sleep before the Belfast show.

Cheers to Gerry, Buzz, Dave, Jeremy and all the maniacs at the show. What a start to the tour!

DAY THREE_The Empire_Belfast_26_04_2017

Most pleasant drive up with only the customary ‘pastry stop’ to break the run. We’re in Belfast by noon so we get checked in and I take a quick walk into town to buy some more acoustic bass strings. The ones I’d on took a right battering in Dublin and I fancied getting afresh set on for Belfast. I also fancied seeing if I could track down that Peter Criss solo album on vinyl to no success. Perhaps not Dundalk but I might be in luck in Cork 😉
Get some lunch on Botanic avenue and i’m delighted to hear that my good friend RG Shiels is in the coffee shop next door treating himself to a coffee. He’s just back off a European tour so I get to hear all about that and catch up a bit. Cheers for the cheesecake and coffee Bas, next time my treat!

Always like the Empire as a venue, looks stunning and had some great nights in here…the Gifted live show a few years back and the one with Clutch in 2000 (Also saw some killer shows as well, GodSpeed You Black Emperor, Deus, Shellac and Jim Thirwell all spring to mind!)

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I recognise that chap in the hat…

Soundcheck is a bit tricky today…my bass keeps feeding back, something to do with playing a hollow wooden instrument on top a hollow wooden stage directly above a sub bass bin…woof woof! Finally getting it somewhere decent sounding onstage and Rich seems happy with it all in the room so we scarper off to the BBC to do a quick live interview and performance of a couple of songs. Once that’s done we hit the dressing room again and chill before the show discussing a few tweaks for the gig. Being a home town gig I’ve got a biggish guest list (family and friends galore!)and before the doors open there’s already a considerable queue outside. Word is that its going to sell-out so that’s always likely to make for a good atmosphere.

And what an atmosphere it was, definitely one of my favourite Belfast show in years. Very, very good natured and bantering crowd, lots of singing/clapping and a lot of love in the room. It was a bit special, you put a huge smile on my face for the 2 hours we were onstage Belfast…glorious.After we pack up, hang out for a bit then go catch up with a few friends in the downstairs bar. Great night and then we’re back at the hotel for a nightcap.

Nice one Belfast, that was a perfect ‘homecoming’, see you next time when we’ll be sure and bring  ALL the amps 😉 Special thanks to Shep, Dee, the staff at the Empire for their help and patience, Marie Louise, Paul, Stephen, Peter and all at the BBC NI for continued ongoing support plus RG, Beast and Liam for the hang! Belter!

Michael McKeegan

All pics below very kind courtesy Liam Kielt Photography

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

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