“It Was A Privilege To Call You My Friend…”
When John Reynolds got the idea of doing a gig in the ‘meadow’ in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, he called the operations manager Gale Scanlan. These are her memories of the man – and his passion for the events that he ran.
I first met John almost 12 years ago now. We met professionally, but that working relationship soon grew into an important friendship.
I still remember when Damon, my assistant came into me at work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, RHK, and in his broad Birmingham accent informed me that there was someone called John Reynolds on the phone, who wanted to come in and meet about an idea he had for a gig in the meadow on the grounds. I said “find out who he is and what he does before we agree to anything...” – so being a good public servant, I exercised due diligence and did a bit of research on the internet and rang around. If anyone has ever typed John’s name into Google search it can make for very interesting reading: people seemed to love him or hate him… there was no middle ground.
I checked him out with a friend of mine, a former County Manager who had worked with John and he said “Yeah, great fella, if only he would pay his bills on time!” So out of curiosity, I decided to meet him, and I had no idea what to expect… years later he told me neither did he, as he had also done a similar search and discovered he was coming in to meet what he described as a ‘trained killer!’
John pitched the Some Days Never End series of concerts to me. I had set aside an hour, but we ended up chatting for about three, and that was the first occasion that he got his car clamped in our carpark! He never learned. I remember him asking me at that meeting what was the most memorable concert I had been to and why – he was trying to suss me out.
I explained that growing up in the North during the Troubles there weren’t a lot of gigs to go to, but that I remembered going to a Howard Jones concert in a Belfast sports hall. The venue smelled of sweat, he was on a knee-high platform, just him a keyboard and drum set. For security reasons, the lights couldn’t be dimmed. After commenting on my questionable music choices, John said... ’Well, you will see we can do better than that!’
His timing couldn’t have been better. The museum’s grant had been slashed and the pressure was on for us to make up the deficit. Despite this, I knew that it would be a real challenge to get the Museum Board, Director and the OPW to agree to a commercial venture like this.
John put on a suit and charmed them, as was his way, but he was sincere in the undertakings he gave and it was the start of a partnership that I am really proud of. I know that before those first concerts, he warned everyone working on the gig for him that it was a big deal to have been allowed on to the site and not to mess up! Knowing John, I suspect he used more colourful language, but is an example of how seriously he took this duty of care.
"John’s events were special. He didn’t just rent the field out at the RHK. He brought a curatorial dimension to his ideas that I recognised early on."
Patti Smith and Nick Cave performing at IMMA, and an overview of All Together Now