Blame it on the Stones.
For those in the aromatic multitude who looked like they'd still be wearing flowers in their hair if they'd still been wearing hair, Micko's magic bash at Slane was a juddering joy-ride back to the dear, dead days when they really believed Route 66 was the Ammerican Road To Socialism. And us kids enjoyed it, too. So that's all right.
Whether the Stones' storming set was good for Irish rock and roll is something else again. Storms typically pass quickly and leave damage.
The pathetic attendance at Maccroom, the down-on-last-year turn-out for Lisdoon and a crowd at Punchesstown which would have depressed if depression had been possible on the dream-day that was in it, can all be traced back to the over-shadowing effect of the Big Deal at Boyne Valley.
The Stones' siphoned in such a prooportion of - not just the money - but the interest and energy of the rock community that everything around them in time and space suffered badly.
So it" is everywhere. Ten years ago the Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead headed a bill at Watkin's Glen .in up-state New York which pulled the biggest crowd - 600,000 - in the history . of the music. They teamed again last November for a gig in Orrlando, Florida. It was called off at a week's notice with only 10,000 tickets sold. Reason being, the Stones were playing the same venue three weeks later.
Last year U2 pulled 4,000 happy inner-cityhead-bangers to the RDS. Lynott and Lizzy packed the same venue. Rory Gallagher can sell out any indoor venue in the land. Paul Brady stuffed the Stadium, no problem, earrlier this year. Together, Bono, Lynott, Gallagher and Brady drew about 3,000 to Punchestown ... six days before Slane.
The Stones took maybe half a million quid of rock's money out of Ireland. Meanwhile, good Irish rock bands can starve. Along the Boyne, as in the South Atlantic, there were quesstions of proportionality. The Stones concert was a mighty event, a good gig not to miss. But was it good for music here that it happened?
I only ask.
Punchestown was a riff-rich riot on an amiable day, climaxing in a jubilant guitar jam involving Gallaagher, Lynott and Brady on stage togeether. Gallagher was nothing but the same old Rory, than which better can't be said.
Highpoint for many decent citiizens was an announcement by the nonpareil Beep Fallon that a guy perambulating in a Belfast City Maraathon '82 tee-shirt was an emissary from the dreaded Drug Squad. Beep indicated to his many followers how they might most usefully react to this person's presence, as a result of which one cop got off-side and the six other people wearing Belfast City Marathon '82 tee-shirts wondered if they could sue.
"Fuck you, police-man", cried the heroic Beep to appropriate cheers.
And quite right. With my own eyes I witnessed two of these tee-shirted goons harrassing kids, searching handdbags, being generally 0 bnoxious and sending out little flurries of bad vibes everywhere they moved. Meanwhile, Paddy Cooney is roaming the streets.
Ligging at Lisdoon was none the more pleasurable for the presence of a free-loading pack of palsied hassbeens, one of whose number, the deeputy editor of a Sunday newspaper, I observed roaring at a woman who had misfortunately sat down within 10 yards of him: "Cross yer legs!" Ignorred, he then confided to his associates at the top of his voice: "Hah! She must be a hooer, she won't cross her legs!" The garbage seemed to find this remark hilarious.
Let's hope that by next year festiival organisers will have found ways of weeding these undesirables out.
Ass-hole of the Month is (again) the Evening Press's political and musical ignoramus John Boland. He reetains the title for performances during July which included the opinions that: 1, Janis Joplin was incapable of singing with feeling; 2, that Elvis Costello has no talent; and 3, that Christy Moore's "The Time Has Come" is his best
record in ages . . . because it isn't political.
The raft of loose liggers, drunks and semi-literates who constitute the Hot Press Rock Awards judging panel have got it wrong yet again. The "Best New International Act" award went to the Fun Boy Three. Not a bad little band, granted, but do they compare with, or even to, Smiley Bolger?
I think not.
I'm getting awfully worried about Bono.
Playing the Inner-city Festival last month, he spoke about mass unemmployment among urban kids, squalid housing, the attempts by the Corporration and the developers to crumble the community and other aspects of contemporary capitalism.
"But we", he shouted upliftingly , "have the answer in just one word!"
What could this word be, we wonndered as we waited with stopped breath. Armalite? Greyhound? Tony Gregory?
But no. It was just Bono's introoduction to his next number, "Rejoice".
Rejoice? Is the lad daft? Or is this just what happens when an innocent young rock star ODs on religion?
Still, it's not a free country and he's entitled to his view. But come the liberation ...
August 17 sees two of the most significant anniversaries in the Irish rock calendar. Not only is it Bill Graham's 40th birthday (Cheers, Bill!) but also five years to the day since Dave Fanning took to the mid-night airways with his show which has since become the rock on which almost everything else is built.
The programme works because Fanning manages to be genuinely exxpert without ever being either pattronising (if that sounds easy take a look at In Dublin), because he doesn't gear his performance towards picking up lucrative disco (ugh) dates for his days off (unlike the appalling successsion of embarrassments who precede him) and because the show is perfecttly positioned in the schedule, at exacttly the time of night the target auddience is ready to tune in to turn on.
May it still be waiting at the middnight hour when Billy notches up the half century. It won't be long now, yeah.