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.