Saturday April 15th, and the tour is finally drawing to a close. Fittingly this is in Dublin: the Jordan tour had also ended here, riotously, ten years previously and Paddy had promised to return.
I’m leaving the final word on the Dublin gigs to Mick Lynch tomorrow. But for me, if the gig on the 16th was the best of the tour, narrowly shading Leeds, this one is also essential. Not least because of the brilliant audience recording to DAT tape, but also because there is a sense of something drawing to a close, and every second is worth savouring.
Leaving aside the Fleadh performance in June of the same year, Prefab Sprout would soon no longer be a live band, and despite the relative success of this tour, were coming to a low ebb in the public consciousness: just some 80s band who sang about hot dogs, almost a standing joke. This was the period where you could buy Protest Songs on vinyl for 10p, just before the Gunman was released to general indifference and even some hostility from the fans, and, most shamefully of all, the masterpiece that is “I Trawl the Megahertz” was to remain unreviewed by the mainstream press.
We’re in a happier place now. You’ll be lucky to pick Megahertz up for less than thirty quid, you’ll be fighting hipsters for copies of anything at all on vinyl, and generally the historical and critical perspective has been revised massively in Paddy’s favour.
But in Dublin, everyone was on the same page already. It was a lovely conclusion to that era.
On a personal note, I can place this time very precisely in my own memory. I’m sitting across the room from my youngest son (or at least currently my youngest, I’ve another on the way in late June). He was born on the evening of Sunday April 16th, just as the second Dublin concert was proceeding. At that time I’d forgotten my 80s obsession with Prefab Sprout and had no idea the tour was happening at all – the following year I’d notice the video of Cowboy Dreams and have a very brief awakening. But I can look at him and think how long 15 years is, and how short, and how many wonderful and cataclysmic things can happen in a decade and a half.
But above all how heaven waits over the next horizon for all of us – the future is where the most wonderful things live. It was true in 2000 and it’s true now. The world certainly needs dreamers like Paddy, but by Christ let’s hope they wake up so we can share in the treasures they can bring to us.