Saturday, August 8, 2009

Irish Music - (n.b click on photos for a better view)

Hello rockstars, I'd like to quote a famous Australian - Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) An Australian rock musician, best known for being the lead singer and lyricist of Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980. He was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, and emigrated to Melbourne, with his family in 1952 at the age of six. (*Wikipediea)

He used to sing:

Let there be sound, and there was sound
Let there be light, and there was light
Let there be drums, there was drums
Let there be guitar, there was guitar, ah
Let there be rock!!!

Well the last few weeks in Ireland have been all about music for us!

Although not quite up to the standard of the great ACDC, U2 another well known band with letters in their name, proved to be a good alternative! And as Bon said, there was sound, drums, guitars and more lights than you would see swirling round your head after 5 rounds with iron Mike Tyson, and the same sort of ringing in your ears afterwards.

We scored some expensive, last minute tickets to one of their 3 shows in Dublin's Croke park stadium, the major sporting venue in the Republic. After searching in vain for a reasonably priced hotel in Dublin, that wasn't booked solid for the summer weekend, we settled on university accommodation at Trinity College in Maynooth, which is about 30 mins by train West of the capital.

We hurriedly checked into the beautiful old building then raced to get the train into town to meet Sarah's cousin who she hadn't seen for 17 years! We were half an hour early which meant we had time for a pint before the meeting, and also meant we could have caught a later train and I didn't need to make Sarah get changed in a Maynooth hotel bathroom prior to catching the train! I blame the Irish rail website connection info, not my pedantic need to be on time for everything......(Although there happened to be another lady getting changed in the same hotel bathroom for a wedding, so it's not unheard of to have a bad boyfriend, or of a woman running late.....hmmmm did I really print that last bit)

We met with Tom and Connor, his 'Cute-as-a-button' son, and did a mini tour of Dublin city topped off with a frothy pint in the Temple Bar area. After a nice couple of hours we walked 25 mins to the stadium and settled into the bar for another pint, a glass of wine and our home made ham and salad wraps. We then grabbed another couple of drinks, headed outside (to some better seats than ours), and settled in for a bit of Kaiser chiefs warm up action. They were quite good and got the crowd going pretty well before the main act.

*Stadium filling up / Kaiser Chiefs

These 3 Dublin shows were part of the 360 Degree tour which involves an alien like stage with a 360 degree outer catwalk and gangways that spin between the main stage and the catwalk for the band to walk along. Out of the top of the space craft comes a massive drop down all around screen with all sorts of flash and flashing lights, videos, and various footage and angles of the band. I don't think these Irish boys are short of a quid!

Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion) arrived on stage a while later and we retired to our ticketed seats, and the music started.

Two guys from work who went said that this show wasn't as good as previous years here, however we still enjoyed it, and so did the thousands of others that were packed in.

I was hoping they would play a few more older songs and took the opportunity to slip out to the bar during some of the newer songs which I am not so keen on. I'm not sure Sarah knew that I had actually left though!

After playing for about 2 hours and a short 3 song encore we all filed out to the streets of Dublin and went our separate ways. We caught our train back and sat opposite a couple of Irish ladies that surprisingly know a previous head math teacher from the Oman school that Sarah taught at, and had both travelled to Oman recently...small world.

We got a few tips off them for sights around Maynooth for the way home on Sunday and plugged them into the phone so we could remember them. Good thing we did as we went out for a couple more 'Jars' in Maynooth before retiring back to the university like naughty school children. Back in the room we upset the neighbors at about 0400 by pushing the 2 single beds together and carrying on like idiots wandering back and forwards down the hallways to our respective bathrooms. A good night was had by all! (Except maybe the neighbors)

Part 2 - Castlepalooza!

The next weekend, (1st & 2nd Aug - just in case I forget), we traveled to Tullamore, County Offaly, about an hour and a half drive East from Ennis towards Dublin. We booked a 'Couples Treat Yourself' ticket for 2 days of camping, music and frivolity at the Castlepalooza festival at Charleville castle. The ticket promised a set-up tent, premium champagne and chocolates on arrival, proper flushing loos, solar heated hot water showers that would never go cold, good deals on alcohol as none would be allowed to be brought in (3E beer cans, 4.5E pints etc) and great music and a relaxed atmosphere.

The chocolates and the champagne were there on arrival, as was the tent......however the tent was your classic 2 man job, aka a comfortable 1 man tent, the toilets broke down regularly (not surprising for a festival really), the showers never worked and the beer was 5E and 6E respectively! It's lucky that the weather was fantastic, the music equally so and the castle setting and the chilled out crowd made for a mostly great weekend!

*Champagne and chocolate - good stuff

After cramming our gear into our tent, then meeting the neighbors over a plastic cup of champagne, we went for a bit of an explore around the site. It's a fabulous old castle which is half restored and makes a great setting for an intimate 2500 person festival.

There was a main outdoor stage, an undercover indoor stage, and inside the castle was a number of activities throughout the weekend including a day spa, photographer, burlesque dancing classes and other various activities to supplement the music.

We didn't know any of the bands on the line-up, however during the course of the weekend we saw some great Irish rock, folk, punk and some interesting techno type stuff. Also on the bill was traditional music, various international acts (Americans ProjectJennyProjectJan being a favorite), poety readings, a rocky horror show and lots more.

*'So Cow' - Outdoor Stage / Rocky Horror - HMV Stage

*Trad band+dancers / 'Fergus' Simon + 'Paddy' Garfunkel
(with drunken cowboy in foreground!)

After a couple of long musical days, and sleepless musical nights (the HMV tent was shaking the ground until 0400 both nights!), we were more than ready to head home on the Sunday morning. The previous day we had moved the car closer to the castle so we didn't have to shuttle bus the few km's to the muddy car park to reload all our gear thankfully. The beauty of Ireland is that nowhere is too far away, so we were back home in a couple of hours, into the shower and back in bed for a well deserved sleep!

There's just one more thing to be said...........ROCK ON!!

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