- 02 Aug 22
Pogues legend Cáit O’Riordan on 45 years of Irish rock ‘n’ roll – and reading about it in Hot Press.
Favourite gig over the past 45 years?
I bumped into Luka Bloom in 2003 and we were chit-chatting about what’s happening. He said, listen, there’s a young fella here, you have to go and hear him, he’s from Dublin and it’s as if Bob Marley grew up on Gardiner Street. He said, he’s called Damien Dempsey, he’s playing at Whelan’s, go and see him. So I went over to Whelan’s and there was a great buzz there.
I ended up upstairs kind of peeking over people’s heads from the balcony and the band was really sweet and good, and Damien was amazing. At some point, I’m listening, and it just hit me, I’ve not experienced this very specific feeling from the audience since I was onstage with The Pogues. It’s like you’re part of a soccer team – and the audience are your supporters.
There’s a passion to it and an identification that is very specific. I hadn’t experienced it in the time between The Pogues and Damien, and that’s what really hit me. I was just thinking that and then he started playing ‘Rainy Night In Soho’. Oh man, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.
How has the Irish music scene evolved over the past 45 years?
I love all the young bands. I was just watching Denise Chaila there. I follow her on Twitter and I’ve really missed the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage, and she was there doing ‘Anseo’ looking like a Goddess in this field in Somerset, and singing about spice bags and taxis by the Centra. I am so happy that I’ve lived to see it, it was fantastic.
Kneecap are doing their biggest gig in Belfast, that’s really encouraging, they got coverage in the LA Times and went over to LA and caused the riots, rapping as Gaeilge about the RUC and hiding your drugs. There’s all different kinds of Irish bands, now. The thing, obviously, that I’m really excited about is the young trad people, especially John Francis Flynn.
There’s a harp-player called BRÍDÍN, who’s putting a lot of effort into making these big shows. Everything anyone coming from a traditional background is doing with a very Irish identity, whether it’s Denise Chaila or Kneecap or John Francis Flynn, it’s because, to me, that all seems the same bag. It’s all people saying we’re Irish, but expressing themselves rather than the kind of diddly-aye and Irish pub kind of Irish. It’s true the younger generation are teaching me and people my age every day that there’s different ways to do things.
Memories of Hot Press?
When I think back, it amazes me that it was sold in the UK and I used to buy it. I was in West London, living in a nice little kind of Irish area, and my dad used to go to the Irish social club every weekend. There was a newsagent that sold NME, Sounds, Melody Maker and Hot Press. I used to get Hot Press and read about bands I didn’t know, and couldn’t hear until I found Dave Fanning on the radio.
I spent all of 1979 and 1980 reading about these bands, like DC Nien, The Atrix and The Radiators From Space. At the same time that I started getting deeply and heavily into music, I was also able to buy Hot Press. Alongside every kind of music, the magazine has always been this window into Ireland as well. If this was Japan, Hot Press and Niall would be national cultural treasures. You just can’t replace what they know, just from existing, the wealth of the archive as a resource that is old Hot Press, and everything Niall knows is part of it.
You can’t touch it. I hope to see a big ceremony one day for the fiftieth. Maybe Michael D will be President for the third time and he’ll host the party, and I’ll come up and see you all in the Phoenix Park. That would be a cool party!
Read more in the 45th anniversary issue of Hot Press, out now.
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- 05 Dec 23