Well, I've just survived another HarperIrish stint, though only just. I've brought back a cold, lots of big red spots all over my arms, back and face, even on my chuffing eyelids! So not a pretty sight. I've also managed to burn a checkerboard effect on my back for an everlasting souvenir! Apart from that, I've had an excellent time and managed to drink 100 pints of Guinness/Murphy's and seen 5 gigs in 6 days, so I've probably done even worse stuff to my body than the above suggests. ;)
I didn't write down any set lists (so what's new) as it would have slowed down the drinking, but he played much of what he has done previously on the tour (reviewed by others), so here's a little info on each of the venues/nights...
Monday 2nd: Dublin Cobblestone
Great "L" shaped venue with the stage in the centre corner, so for the folk smack opposite Nick (i.e. us), the stage and bar were very handy indeed. The venue would have been superb for anywhere outside of Dublin, but it didn't lend itself to the raucous night that would have happened if the gig was in Whelans! Saying that, the crowd were very appreciative and Nick started off his Irish tour in style.
Tuesday 3rd: Wexford Finnegans
Prior to the gig, we had a cracking pint and some food in Harper's Bar, just off Harpers Road - of course this HAD to be done! The venue was a newly renovated pub that was rather posh, but empty. Only 20 folk turned up for the gig, though there were some folk in the bar listening for free (they could watch it for free when they went to the loo!). Also, for some reason the venue reduced the price from 7 euros to 5 - just over 3 quid! Don't think Nick made ANY money on the night. And out of the 20 people, 5 were just there for a chat with some background music - I suppose that's what you get when the price is only £3!
But, as usual Nick the professional did a full two hour set to the delight of the other 15 interested folk. This included a new re-vamped (!) Vampire Song [Chris, you know that's not the name haha - P.]. I commented (there was no need to shout) on the fact that I liked the new intro to the song and he then explained the reason, as it will flow directly into the next song from the previous one when it's released on his new CD (possibly called Bloodsongs) due early - but I wouldn't hold your breath - in 2003. I don't know what the previous song will be, but he played a few bars from it to demonstrate what he means. And yep it works beautifully!
He also played Love Is Music with the new(ish) inclusion of Jeff Buckley's Grace which just adds even more oomph to an already great track. He wanted to finish off with Lily's Song (he still hasn't thought of a name for this one yet) but I had other plans! I wanted him to play Wanderer And His Shadow on this tour, which he did after Lily's Song. We also managed to get him to play it in Birmingham last week - even though he has changed the words, but couldn't remember what to!
After the gig, I told Nick that I thought Lily's Song and Wanderer... were a good way to finish off the gig, which he agreed as he did the same thing the following night in Cork. At this point in the night, I was obviously under the influence of the black stuff and so couldn't actually do what he asked of me (ooh err!) - which was to sit down and play the drums on my knees! He was thinking of the idea, of adding some simple drums to his live sets - but it wasn't going to be me...
Wednesday 4th: Cork Lobby
The Lobby has to be one of the best venues to see Nick in - it's actually been voted as THE best venue in Cork). It's a room above a pub that overlooks a river with some interesting views in case you get bored of the gig, though boredom is something that was not on the menu this night. The venue was packed out (guessing 150 folk) with a great attentive (and pissed) audience, which included loads of mates of Nick's and some fellow English fans (Mark, Geoff & Jools) and a loud (even compared to me) woman from Hackney that tried to get a little too political. I can't remember much about the gig, but I do seem to think that it was the best of the tour!
Thursday 5th: Clonakilty De Barra's Folk Club
This was the day I was really looking forward to - the home of Roy and IMHO the best pub in the world... though it almost wasn't to be. I woke up on Thursday morning, realising that I couldn't actually open my left eye and virtually my whole face (and arms and back) were covered in massive red spots! I assumed that the B&B bed must have been infected by something. What's more worrying is that the exact same thing happened the last time I was in Ireland and after about the same length of time, or after the same number of pints! God help me, if I'm allergic to the black stuff [and God help Guinness - P.]...
I believe I wrote about the brilliantness of De Barra's the last time I reviewed the gig there; but it just has to be said that it's a superb friendly pub and a not bad music venue either. We spent just over two days in Clon and most of it in this pub - this might sound sad to some, but until you've been there - you just can't imagine how cool the place is.
Anyway, back to the gig. As I wasn't exactly feeling 100% fit, I didn't enjoy the gig as much as I should have. The one thing that was really weird (but very funny) about it was the main heckler standing at the back... well he was sitting down at first. It was of course Roy! I got the impression that Roy doesn't get to see many Nick gigs (I mean REAL gigs, not ones where he's the support act) which is a great shame, because I haven't seen Roy that happy in years. He was nearly in tears (with laughter) when Nick sang Guitar Man with the Led Zep cover and dumbstruck when Nick did his "change string while singing" bit. And when Nick thanked "his parents for that shag", Roy commented about where and when THAT shag actually was! You can just imagine how chuffed Roy was when Nick introduced and sang Aeroplane...
The venue was not full - which was surprising - but the atmosphere was something very special (even though I felt like I was about to keel over - luckily the black stuff kept me alive - honest!) with Roy, Tracy and Paul being there. He finished off the set with an even longer version than usual of Titties And Beer which everyone (but especially Roy) loved.
Saturday 7th: Waterford Forum
We had a "day off" on Friday. If you are ever in Clon and you fancy a brilliant meal then head for Macehitters opposite the bank in the High Street. We of course then went back to De Barra's to spend the rest of the evening [a night off and you see a band! :) - P.]. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling much better than the night before, so we obviously nipped down to De Barra's for another late breakfast/lunch and gallons of coffee, and guess who was there... yep, Nick !! After a quick chat we headed for Waterford.
We had heard good things about Waterford, but we didn't find many! The venue looks like a converted cinema, but the room Nick was in was around the back and set out with tables and chairs, and sold the worst and most expensive beer we had drunk in Ireland, even more expensive than Dublin. Obviously, being our last night, it didn't stop us drinking it - in fact we ended up drinking past 3am as the venue turned into a nightclub (of sorts).
Nick had a support act, someone called Dawn Kerry (I think) - she wasn't that bad, playing piano and singing. She had brought a fairly big crowd with her, and commented to her fans that they may think she has a high voice... but wait until you see this Nick Harper!
Nick came on stage to a big cheer and commented on the smoke effects, which were very strange. I couldn't comment on what he could see, but the audience could see waves of smoke and mist around his waist, and there seemed to be loads of multicoloured flickers all around his head. Very very weird (perhaps it was something in the beer?!?).
Nick seemed a bit vague to start off with, but soon got into things when he realised that it was friendly crowd. In fact one bloke kept shouting "slainte" every time Nick reached for his beer, and Nick commented that he can pronounce it better the more pissed he got. Since he already had two beers on stage, it looked like he'd be pronouncing it pretty clearly before too long.
He sang similar songs to the rest of the tour, until I shouted out my request for Song Of Madness. I had pre-warned him that I was going to ask for it (I asked for it at Clony but left it too late), but he'd obviously forgotten, as his reply was simply, "Oh shit!" I told him that I wasn't going to force him, as I know it knackers his voice, but he realised that it was my last night, so he dedicated it to me and my mates from Barnsley (which kinda pissed my mates off, as they are from Hackney!) and thanked us for doing the south coast tour with him. The rendition was brilliant, though it did take the strain on his voice.
The rest of the gig was sort of quieter after that and he finished the set off with the gentle Lily's Song. The crowd (not just us) wanted a lot more, but the bouncers were getting edgy as they wanted to get the dance floor sorted out for the club. Once the club was in full swing, Nick and Paul came over for a quick boogie and beer, which was a nice way to finish off a brilliant (but very knackering) week. Just can't wait for the next Irish tour and an excuse to go back to De Barra's!