Catholic girls living away from home are a lot of fun
Thursday 1 March, 5pm (Dublin Airport, Ireland):
Sitting in front of me is a pint of Guinness so majestic you could put a crown on it and call it King Arthur. The first sip of Guinness on Irish soil is always a glorious moment, and this is no exception. I’m sitting with Tony and George in Dublin Airport, flanked by three pints of the black stuff and all our gear (including my new keyboard, which by some miracle I managed to persuade some radical shop owner in London to actually sell to me), feeling pretty smug. The Irish Tour has well and truly begun.
I’ve gotta say, however, that I was a little disappointed with the rock and roll credentials (or lack thereof) of the flight over here. When we flew to Korea things kicked off with a glass of champagne and a screening of The Fast & The Furious; this time round the choice of in-flight entertainment consisted of The Daily Mail and, well, The Daily Mail. Under normal circumstances I’d probably rather scrape my own eyes out with a trowel than read the Mail, but sadly today I was left with no other option. Fortunately for me, it was full of unexpectedly informative stories about incestuous German retards and “unbelievable” special offers that might one day mean I could be in possession of my very own Princess Diana Commemorative Figurine. Until which point, of course, my life will remain incomplete.
Friday 2 March, 3pm (McDonagh’s Fish & Chip Shop, Galway):
After an evening of excellent hospitality at the hands of our Irish hosts, we awoke refreshed this morning and ready to hit the road for our first gig, in Galway. Galway is on entirely the other side of the country, which is of course the reason we flew into Dublin. It was a nice drive, however, and gave us the chance to work up an appetite for the world-renowned fresh fish we are now feasting on in McDonagh’s Restaurant.
Five minutes ago, Tony nearly got into a fight with one of the locals. Tony often provokes violence when he’s hungry – apparently he’s adversely affected by low blood-sugar levels, which have the tendency to turn him temporarily from the reasonable chap we all know into an edgy, trigger-happy maverick. You know, kind of like The Incredible Hulk. Today, though, it turns out it was the other guy picking the fight. Apparently he thought Tony was French and took exception to him. Luckily, however, the battered haddock arrived just in time and the situation was diffused. Which is just as well, since Tony needs the use of his arms for the gig later…
Friday 2 March, 9pm (Roisin Dubh, Galway):
The Roisin Dubh is the most famous venue in Galway. And it seems most of the town is here. I have a chat with the guys playing in the band before us, who tell me that this is the fourth evening they’ve spent in the Dubh this week. In typical Irish style, they ask us back to their place for an after-show party before we’ve even exchanged names. As in: “Hi, we’re The Upstarts. Come to our house for a party after the gig”. Seriously. Gotta love the Irish.
We kick off our set with the instrumental Phoenix, since we don’t have our sound-guy Danny with us and it gives the engineer a chance to get used to the sound before the vocals kick in. It seems to be going down pretty well, as do new songs Don’t Want You and Sleepless. Gimme Some gets a big cheer as well, being an a capella number, and all-in-all I’d say we won the crowd over. We leave the stage after pounding out new song Tides – which we’ve recently introduced as a set-closer in place of Miles Away – to enthusiastic applause. Good job all round I’d say…
After the gig the Roisin Dubh erupts into an all-night party, with a couple of awesome DJs spinning some quite disgracefully phat tunes. We are staying with a group of female students who turn out to be a real laugh (it’s funny – Catholic girls living away from home are a lot of fun… so friendly). We are sitting around having a few beers with our hosts when one of them, a German girl called Hanna, leans in close to me and whispers – in her breathy German accent – “Tonight, you sleep in my bed”.
Now, I have absolutely no problem with Germans but I’m not afraid to admit to being a little bit terrified by this. She looks at me meaningfully and I begin to fear what may come next. Another demand? A step-by-step breakdown of exactly what she has planned for the evening? “I sleep at my friend’s house, you sleep in my room. Hope you don’t mind the mess”. Oh, oh, I see. Yes. Great. Fine. I sleep in your bed. That makes sense. I see now.
Six hours later we are turfed out of the Dubh. I am swept up in the wave of people heading towards the after-show party, and when I finally get there I realise I have lost the rest of The Lightyears and have only a very, very tiny idea of where I am. I certainly have no clue how I’ll get back to our hosts’ house, since I’ve only been there once and all I can remember is that it’s somewhere in Ireland.
Saturday 3 March, 6.30am (The Beach, Galway Bay):
The party rages through the night, and I slip out quietly at about 6.30am to go and watch the sun rise over Galway Bay. This turns out to be a quite incredible experience.
Surviving on a couple of coffees and a baguette, I wait until I think it’s reasonable to call the boys and wake them up, then it’s back on the road once more… Dublin here we come (again).