- 16 Oct 18
The Roots Maestro Returns To The South Circular. Pat Carty Looks On In Wonder.
The more mature rock n’ roll fan will gladly talk the ear off you about the National Stadium and its place in Irish rock history – Rory, Lizzy, Horslips, Zeppelin, etc, etc - but it hasn’t been at the centre of things lately to say the least. I go to the odd gig and I haven’t been at a show here, at least not one where two fellas weren’t trying to box the heads off each other in a canvas ring, since the Black Crowes in nineteen hundred and ninety-one. Go even further back and the most handsome and erudite magazine editor of all time, Mr Niall Stokes, will whisper to you over a glass of good wine, in that honeyed accent that could launch ships, about how Ry Cooder’s show here in 1977 was one of the best things he’s ever seen, and he’s been known to go out of an evening too.
I missed the opening set from Cooder’s son, Joachim - more of whom later - due to an important meeting down the road, so I had some time before the main event to venture into the stadium bar, which is still reassuringly reminiscent of the village halls I used to do the Scór na nÓg in back in the seventies. They’re selling cup-a-soups and club milks at the concession stand too. I was introduced to Dave McCartney, who looks after the venue. He seems genuinely delighted to have rock n’ roll back in the building, telling me a story about the might Bryan Adams who, upon seeing the venue, couldn’t believe it was the National Stadium as he’d warmed up in dressing rooms that were bigger. Taking our seats, you can kind of see what he’s on about, but it’s is perfect for this type of show. There aren’t really any bad seats and the feeling is intimate, unlike other branded venues in the city where, if you’re unlucky with the tickets, you might as well be sitting in the car park. Let’s hope this is the start of something on the South Circular.
As an augur, the most recent album, Prodigal Son, boded well. After several, at times patience-testing, concept albums, this was a return to what most of us think he does best – panning the various streams of American roots music for gold. Cooder walks on carrying a MacBook but just in case anyone thinks he’s about to throw down a set of banging techno he opens with ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, a song that stretches all the way back to Blind Willie Johnson 1927. With just a few ringing slide notes, he evokes his incredible soundtrack recordings for Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, recordings based around the main motif from Johnson’s ‘Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground’ which Cooder has referred to as “the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music”. As you read this, Johnson’s recording is spinning through the vastness of space, waiting to be discovered again on the Voyager 1 golden record. All that in the first song.