Thanks for the lovely words lads…
Left Right and Centre
Ed Deane- guitar. John Quearney- bass. Noel Bridgeman- drums.
Frank Ryan’s Bar, Queen Street, 10th February 2011.
“Ok folks. We’re going to dedicate the gig tonight to the great Gary Moore, who passed away… A great friend of ours, we all started off together as young kids. So we’re all very saddened by his passing on. So here’s a number Gary used to do himself. It’s called Walkin’.” – Noel Bridgeman.
“I’m walkin’, by myself, I hope you understand…”
I first saw Gary Moore play with Skid Row in Glasnevin Tennis Club in 1968. I was sixteen. I saw Ed Deane play with Blueshouse in Maher’s Bar in Moore Street, slightly later. To paraphrase the Wallace Stevens poem, these were the men with the blue guitars, on the Dublin scene of my youth. And of course, as the artist says, things as they are, are changed upon the blue guitar.
Skid Row, that first time, was a liberating experience. Here was a band that was the incarnation of the challenge to prevailing attitudes to race, religion and class. We were all young and ambitious, not foolish. We wanted to change Ireland, to change the world. And we did, incompletely.
The songs follow one another, the musicians alternating on lead vocals: Meet me in the Morning, Reconsider Baby, Silly Quarrel, Honest I Do, Sensitive Kind, The Seventh Son, Found Love, Got my Mojo Workin’.
The band is off colour, a deeper shade of blue. Noel is punishing the drums, Ed is restrained, John keeps it all humming, in memoriam. T-Bone Shuffle takes us to the break.
I speak to Ed. He remembers jamming with Gary, him playing with them as a guest in Blueshouse. I speak to Noel. He mentions ‘Garo’, and of only himself and Brush being left from Skid Row. I say I can’t remember the songs they played, does he? “It was a feeling”, Noel says.
The set resumes. Got Me a Woman, Need Your Love So Bad, Caledonia. The latter two with Noel’s nephew Paul on harmonica and vocals. All Your Love, I Love to Boogie.
“Caress me baby.” Noel sings soul, drums muted, beat melancholy. “Strolling by the river.” Ed’s guitar gently weeping. “I love you, you love me, babe.” John’s bass a heartbeat. “Everything’s gonna be alright.”
No one is unmoved. As in Ed’s song, we are Two Steps from the Blues.
“As you know everybody, we’re dedicating the gig tonight to the late, great, Gary Moore- a fabulous guitar player.” Noel says.
Skid Row. It’s unfair to judge them with a contemporary ear, for theirs was avant-garde music exploring a new soundscape and their recordings never did them justice. I saw Skid Row play many times, in many places, especially as a trio. In particular, after a lacklustre Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Isle of Wight, I remember them bringing the house down in the Marquee Club in London. Yes, they really were that good. Brush Shiels was a wizard on bass, a truly gifted musician, and a really brave creative melodist. Noel Bridgeman, a double drummer extraordinaire, a polyrhythmist with that rare blend of passion and technique. And Gary Moore on guitar, who could play a tune beyond us, yet ourselves, a tune upon that blue guitar. Felicity.
The band plays on We may be mourning, but we’re not moaning. Wisdom and courage. We’re celebrating too. Killing Floor, Ed sings, John’s bass the pulse, the master of swing. Can’t Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover, John sings. Noel, never ever ‘bash and thrash’, riveting. Eyesight to the Blind, Noel sings. Ed’s deceptively languorous style, articulating every note, as one is drawn into the vortex of his soundworld. Encore.
Hey Joe, bumblebee bass, cymbals sparkling, the guitar springs a solo, notes fluttering like butterflies into the blue, and we’re way down south, way down yesteryear, to Moore Street, to Maher’s Bar, to the forever place, to the men with the blue guitars.
The band pack up their gear. The regulars whisk it out to the cars These are our artists, cherish them.
Frank Ryan’s, Queen Street, Thursdays and other venues citywide.