Life-changing gigs don’t come much bigger than Maria McKee and Lone Justice at the Marquee back in early ’87. If you were there you’d know.
Perhaps a shame that we stayed in the Ship * that night ’till a quarter to ten, thereby missing all but a transcendent passage of “Wheels”, “You are the Light” and “Sweet Jane“. Even Wardour Street went to bed early on Sundays in those days.
The last 30 years haven’t dimmed Maria’s creative powers, but it’s nearly a decade since the last (brilliant) LP, and live gigs have become fewer and further between. Hebden Bridge in 2008, Hay-on-Wye in 2015, and now a one-off as part of Dublin TradFest. Trace the line between those towns.
The walk from Parnell Street to St Patricks on Friday night is almost as lively as Hebden on a Saturday.
Plenty of live music in the Temple Bar pubs, but TradFest uses the Cathedrals and civic buildings perfectly, and St Patricks Cathedral was the perfect venue for Maria’s set.
We clearly weren’t the only folk to have crossed the sea for the gig; the conversation ahead of us from a group from Clitheroe surrounded the difficulty of finding wooden letters to spell the name “Tarquin” in north Norfolk and the Christmas gift of a forge. Actually,that sounds very Whalley.
Inside, Mrs RM made the sort of sprint for the front pews you rarely see outside of the Debenhams sale. Even with that better vantage she still needed to add my coat to her seat to boost her view.
Never mind the view, the sound was glorious and Maria’s voice was as great as I’ve ever heard it. She’s still as lovably batty as ever.
Set List, for those interested in those things.
- Am I the Only One
- A Good Heart
- You are the Light
- If Love is a Red Dress
- High Dive
- Has he got a Friend
- Show me Heaven
- In Your Constellation
- Absolutely Barking Stars
- Life is Sweet
I’ve mixed feelings about rare Maria gigs these days, as one of those annoying folk who always want to hear new stuff and new artists.
No new songs from her new films, sadly, and nothing from the wonderful Peddling Dreams and Late December. But Shelter, Wheels and You are the Light still move me more than almost anything, 30 years on.
No drinks in St Patricks, of course (though Halifax Minster have their own God Beer at gigs there), so a look for a corner pub on Wexford Street. Maria’s paen to ordinary life contains the classic opening lines about pub life, and remains one of my Top 5 songs.
“Something Similar” – Maria McKee – High Dive LP, 2003
5 points for identifying that first pub.
Bourke’s isn’t quite a corner pub, but was just what we wanted.
Effectively the tiny craft bar attached to the giant Whelan’s fun pub (think thumping Depeche Mode soundtracks), this had the ubiquitous Trouble Brewing Cherry & Chocolate Stout, and an O Brother Sinner whose strength was rather more to Mrs RM’s taste.
In a rare display of restraint, we resisted the charms of Leo Burdock’s chippie on the way back to Parnell Street.
Hurry back Maria.
*I have no idea what beers the Ship was selling then, and my beer scores are lost to history.