On Saturday night I was sitting on a sofa three feet away from the brother. We’d spent three quarters of an hour sat there without any apparent outward communication at all. Other people came and went, chatted with either of us briefly, and went on about their business. In actual fact we’d both found the venue’s WiFi network with our phones and we were checking out each other’s Twitter feeds, re-tweeting where appropriate.
Some of the group and their entourage had come up from the West on the bus with us. Others were already in Dublin. Still others were due to arrive, any minute now. Just about everyone from the group and crew was still jetlagged. They’d flown back from Las Vegas only three or four days ago.
I hadn’t been in Dublin for almost a decade. We didn’t have much time for more than a quick mooch around Temple Bar between getting off the bus and heading in to the venue, but there seemed to be a nice buzz around the place. I found myself getting a bit nostalgic walking the streets that used to house favourite old haunts – book and record stores, coffee shops, pubs, music venues – places that haven’t been there in years.
The brother asked if there was anyone I could think of in Dublin that I’d like to bring along. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of anyone. No doubt there would be a few names in the old phone book but how many people are going to be able to drop everything and fly into town for a gig on a Saturday night at a moment’s notice?
Things went on smoothly enough. Everyone was tired and jaded but in good spirits, glad to be back on familiar turf, working on reserve energy. The band soundchecked, I grabbed a cup of tea, nibbled on some biscuits, tried to get the TV to work in the dressing room. I remembered playing here a couple of times in the early 90s. Apart from the flat-screen TV, the backstage/upstairs area hasn’t changed much. The front has been completely transformed, several times – it’s a standup venue where it used to be theatre seating. There used to be one bar, now there are three. The Celtic Tiger had its way with this place all right. There’s some small reassurance that backstage things hasn’t changed. Apart from the TV – and the availablity of WiFi.
After the soundcheck mesel’ and the brother grab a Chinese from a place next door to the venue. Not very fancy, cheap and cheerful. I wait outside and puff on a cig – in the space of five minutes I’m approached by two different scalpers, asking for spare tickets. Kev says the gig isn’t quite sold out yet, but may well be by showtime. As we’re tucking in to our Chinese backstage, and getting our phones out to check Twitter, there are shouts and hoots in the street outside. A hen party.
Later, while the band are playing out front, I grab a beer and head out to the stairs where the network is a bit better. Kind of dismayed to find out the brother isn’t tweeting from the stage. And yes, the band sound excellent, as ever. Going to be a long journey home, though. That’s one thing I remember about those Dublin gigs.