independent

Sunday 22 September 2019

Turning back the clock at a rock night and much ado about bridge

Opinion

Justice was done to the talent of the late Chris Cornell at a gig on Saturday night
Justice was done to the talent of the late Chris Cornell at a gig on Saturday night

David Looby

There are occasions when you are reminded in no uncertain terms that you're no longer the youthful person you think you are.

The setting this time was a Battle of the Bands concert featuring Nirvana and Soundgarden cover bands. The autumn is always a busy time for gigs and I was double booked, but the chance to re-live the good old grunge days was too much to pass up, even if the promo video of a hairy hundred elbowed, chinned crowd moshing frightened the sense out of me!

The first conundrum was what to wear to a gig as hands up I admit it's been a while and hey wait that was the 3 Arena where you're as likely to see people quaffing prosecco as skulling a can.

The almost telluric dark of the intimate venue, combined with the Alice in Chains song playing - brought me right back to the sawdust, far less kempt gig venues of my late teens and early twenties. Not that I ever played in a band, but my willingness to mosh was always noteworthy.

Before long the Nirvana t-shirts emerged from the darkness, some worn by girls sporting purple hair.

When the lights illuminated the stage revealing all the instruments, that old spine tingling feeling returned. The Cork version of Nirvana tore into Breed and straight away my neck started to do this funny forward motion. As the frenetic energy of the song took hold, before long I found myself head banging along, sans long hair, to a band that lit up many a night in the 1990s for me.

The band played songs from every album, including some classics I hadn't heard in years, like No Recess, while also offering up some coruscating hits like Lithium and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Looking around me I noticed a few twentysomethings but most of us gathered in the dark were in our forties. Shock horror, but then not too surprising when you come to terms with the fact that Nirvana were big 26 years ago.

The singer, at one point, implored us to get into the 'spirit' more. 'It's Nirvana, jump around like,' he said, his accent breaking from Kurt's Pacific North West drawl into pure Cork sarcastic lilt.

Next up was a Kilkenny based band, who, to my wondering eyes, featured none other than brilliant Wexford guitarist Clive Barnes. I had heard the band were good and watched a Youtube clip, but never anticipated what was to come.

The death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in May last year came as a huge shock to many, myself included. Of all the grunge icons he seemed to be the one most likely to survive the industry, but then living until 52 makes is an achievement - twice the life expectancy of many in the rock game. Regarded as one of the best rock singers of all time, Cornell was backed by a phenomenal musician in Kim Thajil. A few bars and notes into Spoonman and I was transported back to that time, that voice and the serious rocking began. As the concert wrapped up with an astonishing version of Jesus Christ Pose, shrouded in multi-coloured lights and moshing like there was no Monday (for tomorrow had already been left for dead), I was reminded of all that was great about an often maligned era in music. Ears ringing I awoke later that morning with a stiff neck and throbbing head with a new appreciation for music from the past.

Speaking of the past, after four long years reporting on the name for the new bridge over the Barrow, it's been decided. I say build a bridge to those who are still bothering themselves about it. Life's too short!

Wexford People

Most Read

News