The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

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.

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