Line Up: Hothouse Flowers / Damien Dempsey / Seamus Fogarty / NC Grey
This show billed as 'Hot Press - Covered in Glory' is a celebration of 40 years of Ireland's Hot Press magazine...and the new book that goes with it. Hot Press is more than just a music magazine. It has reported on and helped shape Ireland's young population for four decades. Turns out the venue where we are to help celebrate this achievement is a bit of a hidden gem. The 400 capacity Nell's Jazz and Blues, in London's West Kensington, is a cracking little place.
The signs on the wall say 'shhh...during the performance'. That really is good to see (and a little sad that it's needed) as too often smaller venues with a bar are full of noisy folk. Folk who have no particular interest in looking in the direction of the stage (some do need to be reminded now and again). In truth it's not bad here at all though, a venue with excellent staff and an attentive crowd listening to some great live music.
NC Grey, Seamus Fogarty and the force of nature that is Damien Dempsey each play short sets. The crowd here is definitely full of Wednesday evening joy (that would be the Guinness) and there is certainly a lot of (Irish) good will in the air. After Grey's set, I managed to grab a pic with Peter O'Toole (Hothouse Flowers bass player) who, as it turns out, is a true gent. Mrs Rock warned me against any fan boy antics. She knows I have form. The Flowers are a band I've seen many times down the years. Hell I even 'starred' in one of their music videos (bald, super cool looking bloke around 3 mins 20) and once shouted loudly, and rather excitedly, at lead singer, Liam O'Maonlai, in Dublin airport. When I say 'shouted at', I mean right in his face...nearly scared the crap out of him. I was well behaved this time though and antics aside, I do love these guys.
This was a late night with the band not coming on stage until just before 11pm. No matter, this is one of the few groups I would stay out extra late for (and on a school night to). Sure enough their 90 minute set is, as always, full of rock n roll and hell of a lot of soul. Seeing Liam sat behind the keyboard is something I will never tire of. I may tire of trying to pronounce Fiachna Ó Braonáin name though...still can't get it. I certainly won't tire of hearing the calypso version of Don't Go...a song which I somehow manage to dance away to (again, that may have had something to do with the Guinness) although the word 'dance' should be very loosely used.
We didn't get home until 1.30am (a short stop at a well known fast food restaurant didn't help). I really am getting too old for this but when the band are as good as these guys are then it makes it all worth it. This was special evening celebrating an Irish institution while watching another Irish institution. It is times like these that I get a little home sick for Dublin and Ireland. A city and country going from strength to strength as others falter.
2018 is extra special for this band as it is now 30 years since the release of their debut album, People. I'll hopefully see you at the Shepherds Bush Empire in November (I'll be the bald guy dancing in the front row) to help celebrate that particular anniversary and a band that shows no sign of slowing down.
Ticket Price: £25.00