Tonight I went to see Villagers in Vicar Street in Dublin.
This is an Irish band that I associate with Amsterdam.
Three years ago while resident in the city under the sea, an Irish friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to Paradiso to see them. They were promoting their 2nd album, and were doing a European tour in support of it. I had never heard of them. But Paradiso is on Leidseplein, which was a 15 minute walk from my flat, and the tickets were 20 euros. I felt a bit patriotic, and coupled with my love of Paradiso, my enjoyment of live music and my wish to spend an evening with a friend I agreed. I didn’t have high expectations. I had no expectations at all. I didn’t even get a chance to spend some quality time on Youtube with the group.
That concert was amazing. They are a folky, indie, rocky type group and the lead singer sings with a not-quite falsetto, but certainly a fairly high pitched voice, which lends itself wonderfully to their melancholy but beautiful sound. A male singer with a high voice is a wonder.
Last year they played again. Again in Amsterdam, but this time in De Duif – a deconsecrated catholic church on the Prinsengracht, where the religious imagery and iconography is still visible everywhere. This lead to a very atmospheric gig. Last year I bought the tickets myself. This was a few weeks before the Irish voted to decide whether gay people were human or not (oh I know it was a vote about marriage and the vote went well – but the horror of a nation voting on the civil rights of a minority is not something that should ever be glossed over, and the very occurrence of that vote should always be regarded as a stain, regardless of the outcome- ask the Slovenian gays if they agree – they got the opposite result to Ireland after all when they had their vote last year).
I had done some research on the band. The singer is gay. And their song ‘Hot, scary summer’ was a terrifying reminder of what was coming, being a song about being a sodomite (my preferred descriptor – it is so evocative) while the nation is deciding on what type of rights you deserve. We all know that worked out well in Ireland. Thankfully.
Tonight was Vicar Street. I had never seen them play in Ireland before. It was different. They are a lot better known here – people sang along to their songs. It was incredibly beautiful and moving, as they always are. I shed a tear of homesickness for Amsterdam. In a room full of Irish people, in an Irish music venue, listening to an Irish band, in Dublin, I yearned for bitterballen and bicycles.
Tomorrow I go to Limerick. Coincidentally Villagers are playing in Dolans on Saturday.
If I had a brain, I might have a brainwave….