“It Was A Priv­i­lege To Call You My Friend…”

Hot Press - - John Reynolds -

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

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