Everyone was still drunk when the van did the rounds so we were a bit late to leave. Matt had lost his phone. Jehan had forgotten her passport and Reuben wasn’t even at home. We did eventually find him, red-eyed taking lunch in a local restaurant and when he’d quite finished we were finally on the road, en route to Ireland.
The plan was this: 6 gigs in 7 days. Belfast, Dungarvan, Dublin, Cork, Dublin, Aberystwyth and then home. A fascinating logistical conception, which if you were to draw it on a map with a pencil would basically be one single and very thick line up and down from North to South probably tearing straight through the map and onto the table beneath. We stayed overnight in a cottage in Wales and after enjoying the local cuisine (curry) we boarded our ferry, drove quite far and before we knew it we were hauling our gear into a club in Belfast.
‘FEK!’ We’d startled the soundman on our arrival but his heart soon slowed back down to that of a normal soundman (about 30 bpm) and he introduced himself.
‘I’m Dave fek you!’
After playing to a seated venue of 12 we went to stay at the house of Pat Dam Smyth, our support act for the week who turned out to be one of our favorite things about the trip. We arrived at his house late so we had a whisky and went to bed. It was sub-zero in the room where we stayed (I assume that’s why all of the millipedes on the floor were dead) and after a night of little sleep we rose and set off to Dungarvan in the South.
Ireland is a very beautiful country and the hospitality is as inviting as the scenery. On our arrival to the tiny pub we were fed home cooked curry and watered with beer. Our spirits were high as we played easily the smallest gig in YSB history. We were all standing on Reuben’s drum carpet, which is about the size of a large bed. The only one who wasn’t was Matt who had to stand in front of the pub entrance. If he’d had a dinner jacket on he would have looked like a restaurant doorman with a Stratocaster. He actually popped outside for one verse. Later that evening we drove to Dublin.
We had time to amble that day and all enjoyed a few hours ‘In Dublin’s fair city: Where the girls are so feckin’ pretty.’ Dublin’s more cosmopolitan than you’d expect. The mixture of slick glass office buildings in amongst rambunctious old pubs makes you think of a suited dinner party that’s just been crashed by a bunch of charming piss heads, although I suppose it’s really the other way around. That night’s show was in an old theatre that almost felt like it could have been in Bristol. It was a good gig. Afterwards we had a few pints, watched some Irish lads sing White Stripes covers with a banjo and went back to the hostel to play pool and crash.
The next night was Cork and we had arranged to stay with Matt’s mum who’s been living in Ireland for some years. Having a thatched cottage in the Irish countryside to stay in for 2 days was a dream and we spent our hours eating and being cooked for which, after 4 days on the road was like a warm blanket. We jammed in the local pub and played songs with Pat who’d long since become a part of the Bossers. Those 2 days were like a hazy dream and galvanized our respect for the Irish ways. There’s so much warmth mixed with wholesome sturdiness and they are passionate people. Music is in the very air and is as much a part of the everyday as bread and butter. After a blissful 2 days we said our goodbyes and headed back to Dublin for our final show in Ireland.
By now Potter had developed a bowel infection. Tom Lad, who’d broken his foot before the trip, was almost constantly battered on Codine. He would grin at nothing and stare lovingly right through you as if he were enamored with something far away behind you. We were all getting a bit run down but our Irish experience was not quite over yet. Our final gig was probably the most fun. As Pat played we all waltzed and sang his songs and it felt momentous. By our last track Pat was on stage with us dancing and Matt had shed his guitar and was in the crowd singing and skanking like proper star. It was electric and sharing that experience with someone outside the band who was also a musician somehow reminded you that all those miles and hours led up to tiny moments like those and that those moments should be embraced and then cherished forever.
We left the next day after a sleepless night in the worlds shittest hostel. We shared a room with some poor dirtbag called stinky Dave who was cooking porridge that smelt like socks on a calor gas cooker under his bed. It was bleak. So very bleak. The drive home was beautiful though. We stopped off to play a festival, which went by in a spurt of flashing lights and loud noises, but it was hit and run. We needed to get home. We were exhausted and had had our fun.
It took a while to digest that week, so much happened and I haven’t really captured the half of it. However, there are a few things that really stuck. Touring with other musicians, especially those rare ones with as much talent and charm as Pat, is a vital and enriching experience. We all came away inspired and learnt more about music in that 1 week then we have for a long time. The other lesson is this; musicians, tour in Ireland! You have to. It is everything you think it will be and far more. So here’s to Ireland. We’ll be back for more crack.