In Dublin, May 1982

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In Dublin

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Beer, Blood & Rock ‘N’ Roll


Ferdia MacAnna

(extract)

The first thing I remember about the Macroom Festival site was its size. It seemed tiny – just a hollow field with a covered stage in one corner. People were still trickling in, nosing the ground looking for mud-free patches to call home. Others, usually wearing Motorhead T-shirts, flopped down anywhere, getting themselves tuned up for the expected barrage of mud, blood, beer and rock ‘n’ roll.

We were the first band on that day, and we took the stage to a half-full field and strange, vicious looking rainclouds bobbing overhead like vampires waiting for the midnight bell. We played for thirty minutes and went down well – I remember being able to spot familiar faces in the audience, dancing, cat-calling and, in one case, giving me the finger. It was like playing in your back garden.

The backstage beer tent was a hotel hidden in the woods where musicians, roadies, managers, promoters, liggers and other assorted dorks hung out and drank themselves catatonic. Some people just sat at the bar the whole time, listening to reports of the festival, quizzing others who’d seen the bands and eventually going home convinced they’d seen a tremendous series of concerts. It was reasonably easy to sort out who was who backstage – anyone sweating or disheveled was a musician just finished onstage, dudes who looked worried were managers, people in T-shirts and knuckledusters were bouncers, all roadies walked at seventy mph, and anyone with a can of beer in their hand was personal friend of the bands having one hell of a good time.

Like most of the Rhythm Kings I spent most of my time in the bar, but I did see the occasional world famous rock group. The Undertones were great, Wishbone Ash dreadful, the Blues Band played some middle-class blues and the Q-Tips looked good, played badly and went down a storm.

Elvis Costello kept everyone waiting. Then the backstage area was suddenly cleared, a carpet was fetched to cover the stage, and a hush fell over the assembled throngs as rumours of his impending arrival spread quicker than a plate of Stork margarine in the sun, until finally the clouds parted, the sun bounced out and there he was before us. He played OK.

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In Dublin, May 1982


Ferdia MacAnna recalls the Macroom Festival, June 27, 1981, County Cork, Macroom, Ireland.









The Rocky Years

Pp. 247-9
Ferdia MacAnna
(Hodder Headline Ireland, 2006)

En route to the Macroom Festival, we heard ourselves on the radio for the first time. Immediately, we screamed at Sigmund Freud, our driver, to pull the van into the side of the road. We listened to "Goin' Steady" until it faded. I felt great pride along with a sense of joy that made me feel as though I was floating. Then the DJ praised the record as a terrific debut from a new Dublin band, "The Rhythm Stars." My good feelings fizzled away like air from a child balloon.

That was my first inkling that success would not be an easy or uncomplicated process. I suspected that I might have been deluding myself again.

But I got over it when we played an early evening slot at the Macroom Festival and went down well. Afterwards in the beer tent, people said we were going to "go international." We watched famous people get drunk and fall over. A girl made a pass at the Lizard. We got invited to parties. After an hour in the beer tent, we were the best rock band on the planet.

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