Last week I went to see this man. It is a rare occasion that the individual responsible for the music I enjoy is still alive. So, I paid the ridiculous amount for the tickets. I haven’t been to a live show in quite awhile. Years ago, there wasn’t a week I didn’t wake with clothes that smelt of cigarettes and spilt dollar beer, but I have become much more discriminating these days.
The opening bands were hit and miss. I enjoyed the skiffle band from Hull. The toes tapped. The head bounced. Occasionally, I knew the words to some of the old standards and I sang happily sang along. The next band sounded like one of those ‘Celtic waves’ CDs. You know the ones where they show rolling green hills dotted with sheep and convivial pub gatherings and if you buy now they will throw in a ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ button. I used the opportunity to queue up for a drink or two.
Then came Shane. It seems silly to point out that he was extremely inebriated. This is a man whose teeth have all rotted out of his head due to his predilection towards schnapps and Irish Crème (which, by the way, is nothing but sweetened condensed milk and whiskey. Beurk!). He was wobbly on his feet and grinning the mad toothless grin of a professional drunk. He not only sang off key but also sang to a different tempo. He was a mess, but the crowd was just relieved that he showed up. Song number two started with him no less drunk but a switch had been flipped. He was in perfect form. His cracked mumbling voice sang all the sadness and revelry that make me love the music so much. I sang along. Danced. Got tossed around with the aimless shifts of the crowd. One of the moments of perfection occurred, where time ceases, reflective thought ceases to ruin your enjoyment, and a person is completely in the moment. It is rare event but it is sublime. To think it all occurred during a gig of a drunken Irishman singing simple songs while one is being tussled, showered with beer, and abusing one’s hearing.
The bus ride home was fun. The other punters filled the cabin with stamping feet and choruses. Everyone sang along and chattered about the great show. “chust sublime” everyone agreed.