Friday, July 26, 2013

Dublin 2013

So London is left behind in a haze of post-concert exhaustion, airport shuttles with no free wi-fi and mazes of security checks (be sure to put all your liquids and gels in a clear plastic bag, but no worries if you completely forget you have about 5 bottles of hand sanitiser in your bag). Before long, we're flying over something very green and, well, island-ish. I think it's safe to assume that this is Ireland. Oh, how I look forward to speaking to people who all sounds as though they've just popped out of an early 2000s boyband (cough, Westlife). On the bus from the airport into town, I'm astounded at how normal Ireland looks. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't think they'd be living in little druid hills, but London just seems to hisorical, and the outskirts of Dublin would probably be mistaken for some cute little central KZN town.

Once in town itself, we dodge a couple of 100 G8 protesters, and luckily are able to find the hotel relatively quickly (this is the last time things work out so easily, sigh). Set above a pub, our room is on the 4th floor, up at least a million narrow stairs. But it's lovely and comfortable and - thankfully - has a shower curtain. We take a quick walk down to the shops, and are rewarded with the presence of an M&S - and our first experience with their outstanding custard slices. Interesting thing in Dublin is that they use Euros here instead of Pounds - so no we get to multiply everything by 14 instead of 16. Oh well, it's something.

While my real mission here is seeing The Gaslight Anthem, I'm quite happy to spend the next morning wandering around the streets, checking out all the cute little souvenir shops full of shamrocks and green and sheep. Turns out Dublin is really quite tiny and we're able to get everywhere on foot, even the Olympia Theatre, where Gaslight are to perform, is only a ten minute walk from the hotel.

Although we've got seats for the concert (due to my failed creeping skills resulting in my not knowing Gaslight were even playing until a few weeks before), I've decided that we need to get to the venue early so that we can creep the tourbus and make buddies with the roadies. And if we just happen to run into frontman Brian Fallon and his neck tattoo, then so be it.

The tour bus is - of course - outside the stage entrance by the time we get there, and a small group of hopeful fans have gathered outside, hoping for a glimpse of the band. Said group includes two young teenage boys, a guy with a camera bigger than his face, a reporter-type in a U2 t-shirt, and his buddy who keeps asking me who my favourite bands are, so that Reporter-type can show me photos of himself with them. When he says that The Killers were pretty stand-offish and didn't stop to speak to him, I tell him how they came to hug the fans at Leeds and he seems to believe me. We're best buddies for about 5 minutes til he wanders off. Report-type (in my head I am referring to him as 'NME' by now) disappears too, and the five or so of us remaining are left to jump everytime the door opens. Sadly it's always a member of staff. We're eventually rewarded when a pair of tattooed knuckles appears in the window above our heads. It's none other than Brian himself, having a sneaky smoke out the window in hopes that no one will see him. He doesn't respond to Giant Camera's request to please come down for an autograph, but I forgive him - he's shy and we're creepy.

Inside, we discover our seats are in the second row on the bottom level, so we're basically looking down on the band, and it's a great angle. Support act Jogging are not exactly my cup of tea, but I tolerate them because they're Irish and when they say their name it comes out 'Joggin' ' and it sounds really cute.

By then end of Gaslight's first song, 'Handwritten', I've already decided that I'll have to get tickets for their show here tomorrow night as well - perfection like this needs to be witnessed on as many occasions as possible. Although I saw Gaslight last year at Reading, nothing can compare to seeing a band at a show that is entirely their own. Brian's on top form, making quips about everything from Obama who's in town visiting to how Jon Bon Jovi couldn't possibly reach the high notes in 'Living on a Prayer' anymore. He also tells of his love for the song 'Blue Dahlia', and how sad he is that it didn't make the final cut of Handwritten. 'Film Noir', 'Keepsake' and 'The Queen of Lower Chelsea' are my three standout songs of the night, but absolutely every track was perfect. Brian's voice is beautiful, and he puts an unbelievable amount of feeling into his performance. Right, that's settled then, tomorrow I'm booking the next set of tickets.

As it turns out, the only tickets left happen to be in the unassigned seating area right on the top level, but it's really not that bad. We can still see and hear perfectly, and are still 100x closer to the stage than at 90% of the stadium shows I've been to in the past few years.

We don't feel the need to creep around the tour bus for hours today, so we wander through the town looking at various churches, parks and ... the Dublin Castle, which is really not that impressive. Later on, we're rewarded with a Gaslight set slightly varied from last night's, including 'Meet Me By The River's Edge', which I'd not heard live before.

All in all, a more than successful trip to Dublin, which ends off with a quick and painless ride back to the airport, to begin London: Round Two.

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