The Big Issue Gig
The Isaac Butt, Dublin, Oct 30 & 31, 1999
New venue on the block in 1999 the Isaac Butt has already managed to feature a ream of young Irish musical talent. A celebration of these musicians joined together there recently for a weekend benefit gig in aid of the Big Issue. Eleven DJs spun tunes for two nights upstairs while the following bands tried to rock the croc from the ceiling of the cellar.
Singer-songwriter Sinead Martin opened the proceedings backed by a solid, three-piece band. Offering a hint of soul, her voice imbued her intelligent lyrics about love with an extra heavy dose of passion. Next up compere Sanchez's band Jove had the same configuration but with more hair gel and piercings. The guitarist ignored licks in favour of a swirling sound that wrapped around female vocals barely articulating lyrics about love and death. The whole musical emphasis seemed to be atmosphere rather than deep meaning.
Nude were, uh, all clothed, and all men, a couple with late 70's hair un-cuts and they played music to match. If an orgy of Deep Purple, Supertramp, Donovan and The Marshall Tucker Band could produce one offspring, this band would be it.
Irish boy next door with a guitar Damien Dempsey opened with 'Jealousy' complete with domestically violent Roddy Doyle-esque lyrical visions. He then proceeded to musically take the piss out of everything from his own hangovers to NYC Paddies. Brilliant Trees started out very cut-up and wooden. Even the beautiful 'Heartstrings' didn't entirely escape the chopper's block. Though never achieving brilliance, they did loosen up for 'If You Stay' with its Stereophonics-lite finale. Neon on the other hand are Sterophonics heavy albeit with very uplifting, positive lyrics. The in-perpetual-motion bassist apparently carries a diploma from the Alan Happens School of Dance and provides a great focal point for the band.
Whistles and an audience crush by the stage flagged the arrival of Paddy Casey. This was Paddy plugged, complete with electric guitar, band in tow, several false starts, and samples occasionally drowning out lyrics. 'Fear' and 'Everybody Wants' received interesting musical make-overs, but he ignored current single 'Whatever Gets You True' in favour of new songs 'Criminal' and 'Cold as Ice' with its Starsky and Hutch/Shaft Theme feel. A highlight of the evening was a funked up 'Would U Be' which got the mosh pit grooving before seamlessly segueing into Prince's 'Sign "O" the Times.' King Sativa then turned the groove over to reggae and kept the dance floor moving until closing time.
The second rocking night proper opened with Blo Tooth who ignored their large cover repertoire in favour of originals including their apparent theme song 'Give Up the Day Job.' Pete Courtney then provided some lovely, luscious acoustic licks with his 'friend' the capo and highlighted with the new song 'I Know.' Next up Mr Frew, Ger Whelan, and Misha hit the feel good factor with 'Follow Your Heart', and 'Superman' followed by 'All Poet's Pain is a Pain in the Ass' and another new song worked up especially for the gig. Cia slipped in a sweet, sultry torch song before the very young Sugar Island took the stage. With extended jams, a fast and furious drum solo and a flautist in the line-up only one name springs to mind - Jethro Tull. Several Hally songs touch on Radiohead, but his seriousness comes with quirks that allow musical gear shifting when necessary. Still, when this earnest young man laughs during 'Happy Now', no one dare laugh along.
Subrosa, a six-piece outfit including decks and a beautiful, blonde singer with gorgeous vocal chords to match soon had punters, bouncers and pub manager alike hitting the dance floor. Well past the haunting hour several ghouls captured the stage and the audience's attention with Bob Marley's 'Sun in Shinning.' After that trick, they treated us to 'Traveller' and it looked like Lir was lurking behind the masks. Their cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown' brought the evening to a close, but the weekend's message had already been distributed. All proceeds from the fund-raiser will be used to run a training program for many of the 7,000 people registered to sell the Big Issue in Ireland.