Supporting Opinion

Going to gigs to hear the singer – not the audience

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The Workman’s Club on Dublin’s Quays is a wonderful live music venue not dissimilar in size and style to our own Roisín Dubh – and it was the venue for a recent unforgettable gig with Coral frontman Bill Ryder Jones.

There was a lovely atmosphere among a fairly seasoned crowd and Bill himself is so laidback that he might as well live his life one step from horizontal.

But in a rare spark of irritation, he had a cut to get people to tone down the talking between songs; banter that was audible to all.

Even then, it wasn’t much more than a gentle slap on the wrists.

“Can we keep it down with the Chatters’ Union?” was all he said, but it won approval from the vast majority who came to listen to him, not to the people standing beside them.

It wasn’t that they were exactly drowning him out, but it was just annoying – to him and the listeners – that some people were chatting away as though this was mere background music in a pub instead of a showcase for what might well be the best album released this year.

Indeed his mild-mannered rebuke was considerably more low-key than Damien Rice’s verbal outburst directed at his Galway Arts Festival audience a few years back when he threatened to stop the gig altogether if people didn’t shut up.

He wondered why people had bothered to spend so much money on tickets in the first place if all the only thing they wanted to hear was their own voice.

In his case the problem was caused by people outside the festival tent, gathered around the bar area – but with the tent flaps open, the noise was coming in.

And given the mellow nature of his wonderful music, his anger was understandable – even if the tone of his outburst was somewhat over the top.

He may not have been familiar enough with the venue, but the truth of it is that part of the appeal of the Arts Festival Big Top is the chance to bump into people and chat outside the tent.

It’s just that Damien Rice is a little quieter, more intense and reflective than, say, the Saw Doctors who coped just fine with a lot more background noise last year, as they undoubtedly will again this summer.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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