What the Music Men Say

The flare-up of troubles in Ulster has brought a total clampdown on all concerts in Belfast and Northern Ireland, and promoters are also experiencing difficulties south of the border.

Planned tours by English and American bands are in some doubt, and Irish bands are already suffering through lack of gigs.

“It's very bad.  The whole situation as far as live music goes has become impossible.  We've canceled everything,” Michael Connolly of Aikin Promotions – one of the biggest bookers in Ulster – told the MM on the phone from Belfast.  “Congregating just isn't allowed, so quite simply, concerts aren't either.  We had several tours lined up with progressive English bands, but we couldn't even think about them now.”

“As there seems no hope of improving this situation, it looks as though the kids are going to be starved of music for some while.”

Topline Promotions, Dublin, who regularly book bands in the Northern Counties, are now refusing to promote in Londonderry or Belfast.  This is estimated to be costing them around £500 a week in cash – but they are attempting to place groups in other venues.

Noel Pearson, of Dublin’s Tribune Agency, told the MM they had been having difficulty since the troubles re-appeared in 1969.

“The last three weeks have been the worst so far.  We can only hope that things settle down quickly.  Around a dozen or so bands and artists have been affected – but they haven't really gone hungry – we have replaced 90 per cent of the canceled bookings with gigs in the South.

How did Irish musicians living in London take to the news?  John Wilson, former Taste drummer, and now with Stud is himself from Belfast.

“It's cool to talk about things like Bangla Desh, and regard Ireland as unfashionable.  There's a reason for that, what's happening in Ulster is so real.  I mean, it's an hour away – it could well be Birmingham.  Being from Belfast, I’ll tell you that the trouble has always been there, even when I was a kid it was present.  As I am now though, I'm just trying not to get too involved, and I'm trying to put it out of my mind.

“I've no wish to write songs about it.  I've no wish to go and play there; it just wouldn't be any good.  There's no interest in groups, or musicians, they just want to be left alone.  I got out, and I regard myself as being lucky, and I know there are lots of musicians who would like to get out too.  It's a hopeless situation, just hopeless.  It's eating out the city, the whole place is just being ruined.

Rory Gallagher, who has already played Belfast twice this year – once during a somewhat “lively” period in the city's troubles, says he would be willing to “take a chance” if he were booked to play in the near future.

“The last time I played there, things were rather grim in the streets, but as soon as the concert started it was all okay.  A rock concert certainly brightens things up, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have say, four concerts in four weeks with acts from England – just to give the kids something to cheer them up.  Music can always have a good effect on people, especially the young – and it does clear the air a bit, I know that.

“As far as helping to stop the troubles, well I don't think it would figure, but it's a shame that the people are going to be starved of live music.  Yes, I’d certainly take a chance.”

Melody Maker - August 21, 1971
Thanks to Brenda O'Brien for sharing this piece
reformatted by roryfan

To Join The Loop
Mailing & Discussion List
email roryfan at 3dale@voicenet.com
  Back to main RoryON!! page
  Back to Articles page
Back to previous article
Forward to next article.