Horslips concert in Belfast

Horslips concert in Belfast

Horslips were always one of my favourite bands. In 2009 when they got together again after a thirty year gap since their last live concert, they played in front of packed audiences in Belfast and Dublin. Twelve months on they were back again, this time at the O2 in Dublin followed in quick succession by Belfast (December 1st 2010). I left it a bit late to buy tickets for the Waterfront Hall gig and ended up on the second floor, up in the “gods” as it were. There were more than a few empty seats at that level. Although the overall view was fine and the sound was good, it did not enable me to see the members of the band in any detail. So I would recommend these fine profile photos by Daragh Owens (copyright) which convey the atmosphere in front of the stage really well. Those who chose to stand and dance or rock along to the music seem to have enjoyed themselves immensely. I could not help noticing the profile of the audience. Most were like myself, in the 50+ age group and showing definite signs of middle-age spread!! The ageing rockers were there to relive the glories of youth. Horslips did not disappoint. There were the usual favourites, including my own, Dearg Doom from The Táin. The lyrics can be found here.

Man who built America

Then came The Man who built America. This was one of the tunes when the lighting (a mixture of blue, white and red) matched the lyrics really well. The original album released in 1978 was produced by Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat and Tears and Blues Project fame. It concerned Irish emigration to the USA and was commercially their most successful album (Wikipedia). For some of the numbers the five lads were joined by three female backing vocalists and a three piece brass section (trumpet, trombone and saxophone). Another tune when the lighting effects blended really well with the music was Sideways to the Sun.

Sideways to the Sun

Sun symbols appeared intertwined with the name of the group.  All in all a great experience. Thanks once again to Barry Devlin, Jim Lockhart, Charles O’Connor, Johnny Fean and his brother Ray who stood in once again for Eamon Carr on the drums. His drum kit was unusual with what looked like two helter skelter type sets of cymbals perched above the main drums. Horslips were back at the Waterfront on St Patrick’s Day 2011 in a live BBC Radio Ulster concert with the Ulster Orchestra. It sounded great but I was one of the unlucky ones in the ballot to get free tickets. The venue was full. Another great night to savour. Alf McCreary gave this verdict in the Belfast Telegraph, rock and reels on a night of true magic. He awarded them four stars out of five for their performance (new page). More recently I have been watching the TG4 series Horslips Rotha Mór an tSaoil The Man Who Built America: Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart re-trace the steps of Donegal man Micky MacGowan whose memoirs ‘Rotha Mór an tSaoil’ inspired the band to write some of their finest work. From the Steel Mills of Bethlehem to the gold fields of the Klondike the two perform some of the Horslips music inspired by Micky and his journey. Well worth watching. Finally another memory from the Waterfront Hall concert in December:

Green lighting this time


Mist rising from River Lagan

It was a beatiful Easter Sunday dawn as the sun rose over the River Lagan. The early morning mist was rising from the river and started disappearing as people made their way along the path towards the spot where they would mark this special day with the celebration of Mass. The priest was a Jesuit, Fr Bruno Niederbacher from South Tyrol, who has been based in Belfast for the past three months, helping out as a curate at St Brigid’s Catholic parish (new page).  Shortly after 7am the Mass began. By that stage around 150 people had gathered around a large tree where a temporary altar had been set up. At one point during his homily Fr Bruno stopped talking. He urged the participants to listen to the sounds of nature around them and the birds duly obliged! Then to breathe in the fresh air for further inspiration.

Altar set up under a large tree

The choir led the singing and contributed greatly to the occasion. The dawn Mass or a religious service is a tradition in many Christian churches. St Brigid’s parishioners have been participating in a Mass at this spot for several years. It may have been the idea of a former curate who had a love of nature or it may well have been an even older tradition. But this was the first time I have managed to attend. A friend who has been a regular attender with her family recalled how the weather was on occasions not so mild, when it was held in the snow! She also remembers the Mass being interrupted on one occasion by a group of rowdy youths returning from a party.  Fr Bruno ended the Mass with an Irish blessing. Afterward, small Easter eggs were handed out for the children (although that did not stop some adults taking them!) to enjoy.  On Easter Monday, Fr Bruno returned to Dublin where he has been based for the past year as part of his Jesuit “tertianship” or training after ordination. He made a valuable contribution to the spiritual life of  St Brigid’s especially at Sunday Mass and with youth groups during the short time he spent in the parish. Fr Bruno was born in 1967 in Uttenheim, Suedtirol in the Dolomite region of Italy. After his novitiate he studied philosophy in Muenchen and then Freiburg-in-Breisgau (where I once attended a summer course). He also studied theology in London. He worked in a youth centre in Innsbruck and since 1999 has worked at the Institute for Christian Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, to which he now returns. Farewell Fr Bruno and thanks. Go n-éiri an bothar leat.

Easter Sunday dawn Mass beside the Lagan