KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
It has been Fibber Magee’s for an age, but it was called The Ivy Rooms back when I first darkened its doors. That was in 1980, which is alarming to recall now because that was only one year away from the Seventies, which makes me desperately old. By small consolation, I was only 14 at the time. Quite why either our parents or the venue owners felt it was acceptable for 14 year old girls to go a rock gig on a school night is anybody’s guess now, but there was a bunch of us there nonetheless, present and correct at our first ever grown-up gig. The band was called Stillwood, who nobody remembers now – though their members would eventually contribute to other, better remembered outfits like QED, Fastway and Flogging Molly – and as I recall, we sat on the floor up the front drinking Club Orange while they tore the place apart. For me, it felt like the start of something: sure enough, I would revisit the Ivy Rooms and later Fibber’s many, many times during my rock’n’roll years.
But it is so long since I was last here that either they’ve totally changed the place, or my lengthy association with the leaded variety of Club Orange has finally done for my memory; either way, it takes a couple of attempts for me to actually find the venue. En route, a barfly looks at me in mild horror when he hears me ask where the band is playing, before enquiring if I “have someone” in the band. I do, I admit. “Drummer, is he?” comes the reply. I don’t really know how to take that, to be honest – and for a moment, I’m not entirely sure that the mother of a drummer is a good look, anyway. In any event, I am not the mother of a drummer, so I correct. Singer, I tell him. And it’s a she. I’m surprised at how much pleasure I take from the second part of that statement.
I’ve seen her play before, of course. The first time was in the GAA club almost a year ago; the last time was in Whelan’s. In between, they’ve grabbed slots in The Academy and The Sugar Club and Grand Social and I gather, from websites and social media postings, that there is a bit of a vibe happening about these four Leaving Cert girls who trade as Spines. Last weekend, a stranger hugged The Teenager
I’m not the mother of a drummer, so I correct him. ‘Singer,’ I say. ‘And it’s a she, not a he.’ I’m quite surprised at my pleasure with this
in the street and told her she loved her, then handed over her earbuds so The Teenager could hear her own song played back to her. Even she thought that was pretty cool.
They’re the headline act this afternoon, coming on after four similarly youthful outfits. I arrive towards the end of the previous band’s set, and although I am still a teenager in my head, my body knows better than to throw itself into a stranger’s mosh pit, so I perch on a stool at the back, reading a newspaper and sinking a solitary pint. I put down the paper when the girls take to the stage, and I watch, from some distance, my baby girl set up equipment and sort out monitors and leads like she was born to it. Then I wander over to the back of the room, where a handful of adults – including the very attractive mother of the drummer, incidentally – turns out it is a good look after all – are waiting to witness the fruits of all those hours of overheard rehearsals.
Then they start and the teenagers in the audience totally lose it. Most are boys – which surprises and charms me; I would have expected that an all-girl rock band would appeal to girls more than boys – and they throw their bodies around as though the Sex Pistols themselves are on stage. I’m also amazed at how many of their songs the audience seems to know – far more than I do, and I have them blasted at me daily through the kitchen ceiling. They play a new song and I’m stupidly chuffed because I helped The Teenager with the lyrics of it, and then I’m suitably chastened when they make a dog’s dinner of it. “That was a shambles,” The Teenager announces cheerfully afterwards, “I’m surprised you stayed.”
But they did stay, maybe because they wanted to hear L.U.C.Y again or maybe because it kind of felt like something was happening. I have been to hundreds – maybe even thousands – of gigs in my life, and I know this feeling. It’s the delicious sensation of being in at the start of something special. I just never imagined, 34 years after I first felt it right here, that I would one day feel it again for a band in which I had a child. A singer. A girl.