O2 Arena Sheffield
When I got the tickets and saw the venue I did think DD – or his promoter – was being ambitious. The O2 holds several thousand at capacity.
Me and my mate turned up at 9.00 pm and thought the gig was off, then we noticed the A4 sign: “Damian Dempsey this way” it said, pointing to the little bar on the side of the building.
The band had been on for 30 minutes and was playing to an audience that optimistically could be be numbered at around a 100. My first instinct was: he’s come on early and wants to get this over and done with sharpish. How wrong I was. In fact it turned into one of the most memorable gigs experiences I have had for some time.
Yes, the audience was small, but they were adoring. The band rifled through their back catalogue thoroughly , yet the crowd knew every word to every song. A number of times, Damian got us on backing vocals or singing the chorus and fade outs ourselves, while he did his usual plosive boxer’s breathing exercises. After 2 hours he was still doing his encores. It all inevitably ended with him beating his chest as the band pumped outIt’s All Good. The crowd screamed along with the final refrain “Love Yourself Today, Okay?” As I left, I fell into conversation with a bearded late 20s hipster who had been at the front next to me jigging with his mates. As we headed to our different watering holes he told me; “That man’s songs literally saved my life when I was working in the iron ore mines of Western Australia.” I don’t hear that at many gigs.
A bit surprisingly to me, there was a 50:50 split in terms of the sexes. And although the sample was small, all human life was there, from whiskery mid-sixties male Dubliners fans to a young (I think) Chinese woman singing at the top of her voice. In the middle of the front row, a 10 years-or-so lad was out with his dad, Damo saluted him as he left the stage.
It made me think..
A live gig can still produce a real feeling of community