"Almost forgot to take you down Memory Lane..."
It was great seeing The Blades' "reunion" gigs at the Olympia Theatre this weekend. Not a full reunion really, but a two-off, so we're told. It was a fantastic couple of nights.
Back in the '80s The Blades were Dublin's best band, and I was lucky enough to have seen them as a three-piece at the Magnet on Pearse Street - that's like saying you were in the GPO in '16 or, more important, at the Sex Pistols in the Hope and Anchor in '77.
They also played residencies in McGonagles and the Baggot Inn, had slots in Harcourt Street's TV Club, and played their farewell Dublin gig in the Olympic Ballroom, Camden Street, in 1986.
Inspired by the Beatles as a kid, and the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Jam as a teenager, Paul Cleary - the band's songwriter - was one of the best around. A look at the lyrics of "Tears that tell the truth" - along with a listen to that brilliant bass run - will confirm that for you.
Here's a snippet captured with my own fair hand at the Saturday gig, a song called Boy One:
The Blades and their contemporaries, U2, shared the bill at the Baggot Inn for six weekends on the trot in 1979. U2 subsequently became one of the world's biggest bands, while The Blades languished in Dublin and never saw fame and fortune. Paul McGuinness must have been doing something right, then... he must have been a miracle worker, in fact.
Interesting so, to see mega-popstar Bono hobnobbing it with the likes of George Bush at Nelson Mandela's memorial do in South Africa last Tuesday, while Paul Cleary prepared for his Olympia gigs.
In 1984, Cleary gave his support to shopworkers at Dunnes Stores who refused to handle produce from the apartheid South African regime and went on strike over the issue. If you'd been around in the 80s, a time of rampant unemployment and emigration, you'd realise what an incredibly brave, principled stand that was.
Here's a poster advertising a benefit gig at the time:
Where was Bono back then, I wonder?
Here's to The Blades, Dublin's best-ever band.
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