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