The Barbican, London
So Microdisney won the IMRO/NCH Trailblazers award. No me neither. But the joyous thing was that they reformed in order to collect it, and decided to play 2 gigs to celebrate. The London gig seems to have been pretty much a repeat of the Dublin gig, and I wish I had been at both. Some people were.
After 30 years the first question is can they still do it? Luckily the Barbican has a video of Sean and Cathal playing Dolly which proved “yes they can”, so I could relax on the trek down from Bradford. People came from further – I bumped into a couple from Dusseldorf as we were trying to find a way into the Barbican.
First off is the Clock Comes Down the Stairs album in full. The problem with these album live events is that the audience knows the record note perfect so there is no room for error for the band. Luckily the original band was backed up by Rhodri Marsden (friend of the Word), and an additional guitar player and singer (whose names will surely come back to me in a minute) to help reproduce the record. To my mind Sean’s vocals and guitar were a bit quiet in the mix early in the evening, but otherwise it was spot on. And the important thing is that Cathal’s voice hasn’t aged a bit. Still a wonderous instrument of both melody and rage. After Horse Overboard the whole band seemed to relax into the occasion, and we had the glorious mix of Sean’s MOR melodies, and Cathal’s poetry and vitriol.
Cathal seems to have come to terms with the fact that they are one of those “should have been bigger bands” laughing at some of the reasons we love them but they never made it (“this one is about Anglo Saxon town nomenclature – I never said it wasn’t niche”).
After the album we had a sampling of the rest of their career including the nearest they ever got to a hit (Town to Town and Singer’s Hampstead Home) and some deep cuts (Michael Murphy). 464 proved that Cathal could have been another Nick Cave, screaming into the void before crooning “I liked it so”.
Cue Standing ovation which wasn’t over before they came back to give us High and Dry and a cover of Frankie Valli’s The Night. Second standing ovation and it was over. I could have listened to it all again.
Took me 30 years to see them, and cost me a hotel, a train ticket and £35. Worth every penny.
Surprisingly about one third female, two thirds male. Not surprisingly most of a certain 50ish age – but there were few youngsters who didn’t appear to be there under duress.
It made me think..
Microdisney should do Crooked Mile next. Someone give them another award
Cathal Coughlan should be a star.
It’s been a long time since June ’87