Perhaps it was the deluge of weather that had been pummelling the roofs of Lismore for two days straight. Perhaps it was the spirit of Ireland travelling over mainland Europe from the joined voices of unrepentantly lost Irish fans. Perhaps any number of things that imploded into an atmosphere of a quiet rebellion. Despite the weather and 'the match', The Medicine Room began to fill, some new faces, some regular faces, all taking up arms of drink and expectation and good will. For one night, fuck the economy, fuck the lost football, fuck the government, fuck the council, fuck the rain! It can all go to hell! We're here for ourselves, for each other, for tonight, at this moment. Now. So it began...
The bands had arrived earlier in the evening, walking in the door anointed by weather. Hands were shaken, greetings greeted with warm smiles. An easy charisma entered with them and the feeling some of us had met before. I always enjoy listening in to sound checks. The sneak preview of what's to come, watching the artists in the bit of their work that isn't really considered. The act of utilising ears. The technical tweakings that make the difference between a good performance and a great performance. Plus you get to hear things like Muppet's songs being beautifully delivered and played on a piano, in heart rending tones.
VITA (Niall Cuddy) began the night, seated for the first two songs at the piano. His tall, quietly spoken frame folded neatly, his hat cocked back a little to accommodate the proximity of the microphone. It is always a joy to watch a person transform themselves, become a character almost unrelated to how they present themselves when off stage. From softly spoken and contemplative Niall, to VITA, a growling, grimacing, beast of a figure, tormenting itself with rhythm and minor chords and dark landscapes built from copper pipes and moaning. I have never seen a loop pedal used so inconspicuously, VITA seamlessly added layers without even a casting down of an eye, leaving you suddenly ensconced in an entire world. One song in particular, a new work, built such an atmosphere that everyone was enraptured and just as souls were collapsing into it, the loop stopped and immediately launched into a chunky strumming song. Something that jerked everyone to the fore again. VITA really is an interesting artist to witness and one of the few who can get away with performing six minute songs live.
After the stunning start, the poetry section began with Niamh Bagnell, a fellow blogger and seasoned performance poet. Niamh is an intelligent, quirky Cork poet, with a millionmileanhour delivery and clever internal rhymes. She stands earthed as she performs, hands crossed like a communion girl, but her face ignites as she speaks, her Cork accent firing out poems about one night stands, trying to dump eejits, ignorant bliss, festival going and the mobile phone, a poem which sees her utilise the prop very well indeed.
Peadar O'Donoghue is also a blogger and long time tortured soul. After being made redundant after many years working shit jobs, he turned to poetry, a world that he both loathes and loves in equal measure. He is very much a man on the street poet and performer and despite his nervousness in performing, he comes across very well. His poetry is rooted in punk ethos, but is without the shouty ego and pointless anger.
After a momentary break, where the Medicine minions descended to pee and purchase drink in equal measure, Stuart Wilde graced the stage, a phrase applied in the literal sense. You know a band is going to be good when they go to the effort of changing into 'stage clothes'. Again, mild mannered, friendly humans transformed themselves into bohemian Gothic characters, clad in black scraggy jackets and top hats and diamonte shoes and the lady amongst them (Cathryn Doehner) resplendent in a black dress, black feather boa, high heel boots and black gloves. Stuart took on an easy glare as he spat and crooned through the dirty guitared, blues painoed (Tiarnan O'Corrain) and gypsy fiddled songs. The rapport between the band was obvious, the fiddle playing and piano frequently playing off each other, grounded by the rhythm created by Stuart's guitar and stomping on a home-made stomp box. They blew the night out of the water with their final song, "devil's in the house", receiving roars and standing and demands for more, which they delivered in a poignant and beautiful final song with the lines, "goodnight my friend.. goodnight".
I expected the night to be a bit empty of audience, all things considered, but it turned out to be one of the best nights so far, true Medicine indeed. Everyone was brilliant, the artist's and the audience! Sound heads, thank you all.