“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!)

IMG_7342

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

IMG_0174

IMG_0201

IMG_0204

IMG_0218