Fans' joy offers stout defence to criticism of event


Big names checked in their egos at the doors of tiny venues to the delight of music lovers, writes TONY CLAYTON-LEA

FIFTY-FIVE countries, six time zones, God knows how many pints of Guinness, more surprise gigs than an ordinary mortal could cope with – last night in Dublin, Arthur’s Day celebrations got off to a good start with a cheery, crisp toast, and ended in the early hours of this morning perhaps a little more soggy.

All over Ireland, major acts (known as the headliners) from the UK were brought over to perform in venues so small it’s a wonder their egos fitted through the entrances. As it turned out, it seems that egos were checked in at the doors. And so we had Primal Scream performing in the Silver Granite, Palmerstown, Texas playing Smyths Bar, Limerick, Tinie Tempah getting it together in White’s Tavern, Belfast, Mika camping it up in Dún Laoghaire’s The Graduate, Ellie Goulding gigging in the ironically-named Cork bar, Sober Lane, and Mumford & Sons clambering onto the stage in the back garden at Toners, Dublin.

It’s interesting – over the past few days, musicians, industry observers, anyone with an opinion, apparently, have been arguing the toss about how multinational corporations such as Diageo is hanging Irish music out to dry by not having any Irish headliner (the Coronas playing Geary’s Bar in Charleville, Co Cork, doesn’t really count).

These people may well have a valid point – particularly when you consider that no major Irish music act headlined any of the UK’s Arthur’s Day celebrations – but such arguments seemed to bypass the audiences.

Totally unscientific research casually conducted over a glass of water in venues such as Toner’s, Grand Social and 4 Dame Lane indicated that the crowd had no problem with Irish acts that they could see virtually any month of the year being temporarily sidelined – jettisoned, even – in favour of watching an act that could sell out the O2 in a space the size of their back garden.

Hence the whoops of joy when Mumford & Sons entered Toner’s Garden venue at just after 6.30pm to the strains of Ole, Ole, Ole and someone saying, “now I can die happy”; hence the throbs and bodyshocks experienced at 4 Dame Lane at 7.15pm, where singer/rapper Example spun through his hits; hence Primal Scream after 10pm purging whatever it is that’s bad for you in Grand Social, with lead singer Bobby Gillespie shaking his skinny ass for all he was worth.

In the face of such an overwhelming thumbs up for Arthur’s Day it’s difficult to argue with it, especially when love of music becomes oblivious to corporate branding. Last night, Guinness may have been the drink of choice; tomorrow it may be something else. What will last is that person seeing Mumford & Sons and dying happy.