Paul Cleary reforms his legendary Irish group The Blades for 2 sell-out shows. Aggravation Place reports from the front row.
We all know that life just isn’t fair at times and in the case of The Blades it hits home harder than most. Back in late 1979 they spent a six week residency in The Baggot Inn alternating the headline slot with another hopeful local band called U2 and as far as the local press and music fans were concerned, there was only one band heading for global success and it certainly wasn’t U2. Such was the high regard for The Blades, front man Paul Cleary beat Bono and Van Morrison to win Irish Songwriter of the Year in 1983. And so on Friday the 13th I found myself waiting at an airport to see first of two sold out gigs in the splendid Olympia theatre in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. As the venue began to fill, you could feel the atmosphere charging, people were buzzing with excitement and as soon as the Blades took to the stage they received a heroic welcome. Starting off with The Last Man In Europe, the crowd were singing along from start to finish, Cleary appeared a little overwhelmed by the reaction. The Reunion was followed by Downmarket, still sounding magnificent with the Blue Brass horn section giving a Dexys feel to the set. The great songs kept coming and the crowd lapped them up, Pride, debut single Hot For You, Those Were The Days and The Bride Wore White before Cleary paid tribute to his late father with a 3 song solo set ending with Everything I Own. With the band back on stage they ripped through a cover of Young Gifted & Black and ended with Ghost Of A Chance. Back for an encore of Heatwave and Dublin City Town, they had already passed their 10.30 curfew but the audience weren’t having any of it and sure enough the band ended with a second helping of Downmarket. It was simply magnificent, the crowd singing along in unison. Cleary is quite rightly touted as one of Irelands great songwriters and hearing these songs performed live again hit home just how good they are. At an after show party, top DJ Bill Kealy finished the night with 4 Blades singles in a row, the whole pub sang along as they had done earlier. Bill then led us to another club and the best kebab shop in Dublin, I finally got back to my hotel at 4am. By 8.30 I awoke in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room. Thankfully there wasn’t any throbbing in my head but I had to go and wait at an airport when I’d rather have been back Downmarket.