Garbhan Downey fights off the hens to witness a triumphant homecoming gig
I must preface this by saying I don’t get out much. Two youngsters, coupled with an aversion to passive smoke and mouthy drunks, means I tend to avoid late nights. Van the Man once a year, plus a few turns at the Millennium Forum is about as much excitement as I can take. Apart, that is, from the occasional 'can’t miss', such as a comeback concert in the Gweedore bar for Peter Cunnah.
I hadn’t seen the D:Ream man in concert for more than 20 years – ironically enough in this self-same venue, when he was a far-too-talented backing singer and guitarist with Tie the Boy. That night, they were robbed of a Battle of a Bands trophy by a group who, to compound the ignominy, were wearing spandex.
In the two decades since, Cunnah has gone on to write the most infectious anthem of the 1990s ('Things Can Only Get Better') and single-handedly elect a Labour government. He has also lived the pop-star life to the full, gutter to glitter to gutter and back. And last year, he made up with his old D:Ream sparring partner Al Mackenzie, and the pair began hatching their new plan for world domination.
The spandex-wearers, meanwhile have sunk without trace. Indeed after an hour-long search through the archives, I can’t even find their name. Though even 20 years ago, they were destined to become fat boy teen idols.
A smaller than expected crowd assembles to watch the D:Ream homecoming on the last Friday in September - family, old friends, a few dozen young clubbers and the obligatory hen party. But instead of blanching at the numbers, Cunnah treats the night like he is hosting a party in his front room – and nails it dead.
I tend not to like re-incarnations; they tend to make for rock-lite. Second time around is rarely better, and usually just plain embarrassing, c.f. Take That, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, to name but three.
D:Ream, however, have the potential to be the Godfather II of the circuit. For two reasons. First they are back with two huge new songs – 'All Things to All Men' and 'Gods in the Making', which in a just world could see them equal the success they enjoyed with 'Things...'.
And secondly, even in a small, half-empty club they can produce world-class performances that leave their audience wondering why the hell the rest of the town isn’t up here watching this. And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, guest vocalist TJ Davis shimmies her way onto the stage for a couple of wonderful, haunting club duets with the local hero done good. It's magic.
D:Ream duly ended the night with the Labour standard and everyone leaves with smiles on their faces. For those of you who missed it, go now and check out 'All Things to All Men' on D:Ream’s website. Nifty video too, if a little saucy for my tastes. But then, as I’ve already said, I don’t get out much...