Music and television

As I may have mentioned, this week I was on a team that came joint third in a table quiz. Admittedly it was not an especially diffcult quiz but that doesn’t change the fact that our team scored more points than all but two of the other teams. As part of our prize we won  concert tickets to see an acapella band who were playing in Vicar Street last night.

The group were called ‘Straight no chaser’ and none of us had heard of them previously. A bit of Youtube research revealed that they are quite fond of Christmas songs. This caused a bit of consternation and reluctance. A Christmas show in March was a gloomy prospect. All were agreed on that point.
I remained optimistic though – surely their repertoire involved more than a few cover versions of Mariah Carey and Slade songs.

Nevertheless expectations were low. Or non-existent Which is, I feel, the best attitude with which to attend any gig. It means that regardless of what the event turns out like, you are almost guaranteed to be pleassantly surprised.

And pleasantly surprised we were. They were a highly entertaining and very slick group. The band consists of 9 vocalists. And that is it. No musical instruments ever get harmed or used during the making of their show. The percussion sounds we were hearing emanated from the human beatbox.

Admittedly it was cheesy and frothy. But the cheese was gruyere cheese and not the Laughing Cow variety. By this I mean than class oozed from them. They did a big bag full of crowdpleasing numbers acapella style – including ‘Creep’ by Radiohead.

Despite having seen Radiohead live in Ziggodome in Amsterdam, I have never heard a live version of this song. It pains Thom Yorke to sing it. He’s an artist, not an entertainer, you see. Which is a valid opinion for sure. But when you are charging 80 yoyos a ticket, it it perhaps wiser to give the crowd a little but of what they fancy.

It’s for this reason I will never in my life attend another Van Morrison gig – that was an unpleasant experience – he was bored, disinterested, played some of the most obscure dirges I have ever heard, and wandered off stage after an hour. And simply forgot to return.

Vicar Street is a wonderful venue – large enough to have a good atmosphere, but small enoough so that you are never too far from the stage.

I’d go so far as to say that after Paradiso it’s my favourite concert venue.

Today of course is Good Friday. Not so good perhaps if you are a foreign tourist over in Ireland on the razzle for the weekend. It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages anywhere in this green land on the day that our saviour was attached to a cross.

Easter Sunday and Monday involve a massive parade and festival in the centre of Dublin. It marks the 100 year anniversary of the ill judged uprising against British rule in Ireland. I say ill judged as the signatories of the Proclamatation of the Republic of Ireland were exterminated in fairly swift order, after the rebellion was harshly suppressed. Of course it is the British reaction (overreaction?) to the Rising that created the conditions where independence became inevitable.

Well the national broadcaster RTE is staging a series of street events as part of a walking tour taking place all over the city this Monday. They had a callout for actors who wanted to participate. The theatre group I am a member of put itself forward and we are performing over the course of three hours in the specially constructed tenement building set in the Flower Market in Smithfield, this coming Monday.

I am to play a villainous British auxiliary officer searching for a teenaged rebel volunteer, but I am put in my place by two auld wans  in the slum.

I am also play a villainous volunteer who takes it upon himself to relieve the slum dwellers of the finery they obtained that Easter weekend during the looting. But I am put in my place by an auld wan in the slum. This one is easier – having played Joxer Daly in a past life I can do an inner city Dublin accent with relative ease.

Today we ventured out to the salubrious suburb of Donnybrook where RTE’s Television Centre is based. RTE is Ireland’s answer to the BBC. And it’s fair to say that a lot of its output seems inspired by the BBC output – except that everyone has an Irish accent.

The producer of the RTE street theatre festival about the Rising wanted to see how we were doing and if we were ready for the show on Monday.

Growing up in the wild, wild west of Limerick, we had 2 television channels while we were growing up – RTE1 and RTE2. So arriving at RTE studios today was exciting for me. It’s not like its a particularly beautiful series of buildings – being mainly dull and grey. But this was RTE- where all those shows like Glenroe, and the Late Late Show, and Bosco, and Wanderly Wagon, and Blackboard Jungle and Jo Maxi were made. This was thrilling.

It was also the location of the Radio Centre where luminaries like Marian Finucane, Larry Gogan, Barry Lang and Maxi soothed the nation.

I think that if I had recognised anyone I would have grabbed their ankle and shrieked ‘Don’t leave me. Make me a star.’

Sadly we didn’t meet any famous folk. In fact we didn’t meet the producer who was at another meeting with someone of presumably more prestige than out group. We did meet her very pleasant colleague who watched us perform our pieces, in the studio where the RTE concert orchestra do their rehearsals. He gave us some notes about Monday but was pleased with how it was going. We then headed to Studio 9 where we were allowed to have a root around the prop room to see if there was anything we could use.

We were then very politely dismissed as he had to attend an audition. How inutterably glamourous.

It was a magical afternoon.


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