- 22 May 01
George Byrne's 1989
Despite providing one of the best adult pop albums I’ve ever heard in the shape of ‘Til Tuesday’s ‘Everything’s Different Now’ – a collection of devilish lyrics, cherubic melodies and angelic vocals – 1989 is a year I’ll remember more for the inspirational quality of the live shows I attended rather than the vinyl output. Not since that incredible Underground Summer of ’85 has going to gigs been as exciting as ’89, and mostly on a local level to boot.
Paramount has to be Something Happens! just about everywhere they played, although the Simple Minds support slot, the breathtaking Stadium show and Connolly Hall, Cork jostle for pride of place. Not to mention the set of Abba covers when they warmed up for The Joshua Trio, whose own infamous ‘donkey’ gig in the Baggot Inn has already entered the annals of Irish showbiz legend. The Baggot also provided one of the year’s best residencies as Scale The Heights used a string of hot Summer Saturday nights to stretch and grow into a band of mighty potential.
The Underground continued to provide a launching pad for young bands – most notable among them this year being the effervescent giant – and late in the year the capital had another venue to its name: The New Inn. Run by the indefatigable Smiley Bolger, this venue has already been graced with stormers from The Partisans, The Stars Of Heaven, Giant and Scale The Heights.
Elsewhere let’s see … The Fat Lady Sings in the Baggot, A House at the SFX, Deacon Blue’s December show in The Point, The Fireflys open-air in Cavan, The Cure in a starlit football stadium in Lisbon, The Neville Brothers at The Town And Country Club, Hoodoo Gurus in Birmingham, Wolfsbane in the Baggot, The Jesus and Mary Chain at Top Hat, the Republic of Ireland’s three-match residency at Lansdowne and the stunning Tony Christie in The Braemor Rooms.
Vinyl-wise, The Fat Lady Sings made a serious impression with ‘Arclight’, as did The Four Of Us with ‘Mary’ while The Golden Horde and Giant upped the excitement count with ‘100 Boys’ and ‘Put Yourself In My Shoes’ respectively. Irish gem of the year, thought, has to be the sly, left-field shot from Brian, ‘A Million Miles’. Sublime pop.
Internationally, Swing Out Sister proved that classic pop is alive and kicking with ‘You On My Mind’ and the yea also saw excellent albums from Lou Reed, Win, The Blue Nile, Fatima Mansions (welcome back, Cathal!), JAMC, The Neville Brothers and The Screaming Blue Messiahs, among countless others … just check the year-end listings.
And any predictions for the ’90s? Well, the premeditated murder of the 7-inch single by the record companies will militate even further again local, unsigned bands’ already slim chances of airplay from our ‘new’ radio stations as ‘we don’t use vinyl’ policies gradually come into force … except the first of these before the end of 1991. Other than that, I know I’d like to see more success for Irish bands at international level even ones whose records I wouldn’t allow into the house – but, perhaps more importantly, I’d like to feel that more bands get into the business because they really feel they have something to say and offer, rather than treating being in a band as a leather-jacketed, sleep-until lunchtime version of the Civil Service. Attitudes make music just as much as fingers, feet and throats.