I was only recently married when Prefab Sprout announced their Dublin date for 15th April 2000. In fact I had booked a 2 night break in Paris for my wife and I a week before the date was announced. In a panic, it was colliding with the Sprout gig, I rang the travel agent and told them due to a family bereavement I had to travel abroad and wouldn’t be able to go on the Paris trip in the same year.
Thankfully they said we can give you the previous weekend in Paris (which I did). Anyway, the minute tickets went on sale for the Saturday gig, I got front row centre. It sold out, so they put on a second one. None of my mates wanted to go the second night, so I bought one single ticket and got the last seat of the front row.
Anyway, on to the gigs. I went in on the Saturday night, went down to the stage door with all my vinyl albums (minus the vinyl) and my cd covers in a cardboard case and got to speak to one of the guys who manned the door. I told him I was a huge fan and asked him if I could leave in some stuff to be signed. As he was taking it, he let 4-5 other people in. A guy with a beard and 3-4 others. It was only as the last guy was walking it, I recognised it was Martin McAloon. I froze, and just said “good luck with the gig tonight Martin”, and he turned and said “thank you”. I was gutted Paddy had walked by me and I hadn’t recognised him,
The show was great but the bits that stand out was the slagging Paddy got for the beard “what’s the story with the beard” one fan shouted, to which Paddy replied “do ye not grow facial hair here or is it a cultural thing”. I remember one guy shouting a request for “basketball” to which Paddy cleverly replied “I never play basketball now”.
As I was in the front row, I waited for my chance and shouted “play Nightingales”. He didn’t say he would or wouldn’t. When he came back on after the interval, we stood up to applaud him and he walked to the front of the stage, shook our hands and said “are ye local lads”. I waited throughout the rest of the show, but no Nightingales.
Afterwards we waited at the stage door till they came out. I briefly spoke to Jess about playing with Paul McCartney, and took some photos of the lads. When Paddy appeared, I said “you never played Nightingales” to which he responded “so you’re the **** that was asking for it!” I then told him it was my first dance wedding song, but I don’t remember him commenting on that
Fast forward to Sunday night and going in I saw the guy I’d given my album sleeves to the previous night. He told me they had signed them and he’d get them for me after the show (this was gonna be my best chance to get to the after party). You can hear on the recording will hear my shouts the second night. Before half-time I shouted up “don’t forget Nightingales” to which he responded “you were here last night. It’s his wedding song” (which made me almost faint) I couldn’t believe he’d remembered a throwaway comment from the previous night.
Anyway, in the second part of the show, while he was at the piano for Swans, I just remember hearing the opening chord of Nightingales. I let out a shout to which he said “this is for you”. He commented at the end of it, that they hadn’t played it since “Vasco Da Gama invented Nylon”. I shouted up “it’s your best song Paddy” to which he replied “thank you and that’s for you and your happy marriage I hope”. I could have died there and then.
Later, when the show ended, I went to find the guy and he got me my albums. He happened to be the same guy that was holding the wristbands for the after party. I pleaded with him that I was a true fan (he knew I was at both shows and had the back catalogue etc) so he handed my mate and I a wristband for the bar at the back of the Olympia.
When we went in, their friends and family were there. I saw Paddy’s mother (the band weren’t there yet). When they arrived in, I tried to be cool and didn’t approach Paddy as I knew everyone wanted him. I chatted to Martin for ages and bought him a bottle of beer, and briefly spoke to Jess and Neil. People were talking to Paddy all the time. When I got the chance I thanked him for Nightingales.
The late George Byrne (journalist who died this week) walked in, Paddy saw him, and Paddy put out his hand and said “howya George” and they shook hands and hugged. I was dead jealous as I wanted to be his friend like that. Close to midnight I decide it was time to go. I noticed all four band members were in different corners of the bar (a small bar mind). I said to Martin, could I have a group photo, so we got Paddy, and then it was easier to round up the other two as both Martin and Paddy were shouting for them to come over. I got the photo, thanked them, and headed off into the Dublin night, privileged to have been part of the carnival of 2000.