A Trip to Dublin… Dr Shock… PJ Harvey… Drink, Drink, and More Drink!

Posted: January 10, 2008 in Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

The shops and pavements of Dublin are choked with hordes of Christmas shoppers intent on racking up their credit card bills to the limit. It’s something I can’t stand, as I like being able to walk to where I want to go at a brisk pace. So it’s a good thing I’m not shopping. And it’s a good thing my destination is away from the main shopping districts, in the more laid back environs of Wexford Street. The destination is Solas, a bar I’ve frequented ever since I first went to college in Dublin, and I’m heading there for a lunchtime rendezvous with Dr Shock.

As I enter the bar there’s no sign of the good doctor, but the cheeky charlatan jumps out from behind me and announces that he followed me all the way down the street (he says he called to me, but I heard nothing…). We grab a couple of drinks, take a seat, and mull over the menu for a good ten minutes before discarding it in favour of the day’s special. Today it’s Hawaiian burgers. That’ll do. A rather attractive Polish waitress takes the order (“you can have my salad if you want,” the doctor says to her) and minutes later we’re chomping and chewing on the tastiest burgers I’ve had for quite some time.

We end up staying in Solas for over four hours, having a few Coronas (or Kopparberg in the doctor’s case), and talking incessantly. You see, it’s been a while since I last met up with Dr Shock – which is unforgivable, really, as he’s one of my closest compadres – but we take the opportunity to recount all that’s happened since we last talked. Time flies.

At around five o’clock we leave Solas and head across town to my sister Laura’s apartment. She’s not there but we bump into her housemate Jason as he’s going to work. So I get the chance to drop off my bag before going with the doctor to meet Laura.

We find my sister in a city centre bar drinking with some mildly inebriated record label executives. Surreal, eh? All we can do is order some drinks…

A few more rounds are ordered (I’ve since swapped Coronas for Jack and Cokes) and time passes. The good doctor takes his leave from us, while Laura and I make our way to the Olympia Theatre for the event that has drawn me to Dublin today: PJ Harvey in concert. Oh Polly Jean, how I love thee…

The show is an all-seated affair. Before we arrive at the theatre I’m not sure if PJ is going to have her backing band with her, or if she is going to perform solo. On seeing the stage, my question is answered: there’s a piano, guitar and amplifier, a keyboard, and a drum machine grouped closely together while the rest of the stage is left bare. There’ll be no backing band tonight.

Soon after, Polly Jean’s slight figure emerges from the shadows wearing a decidedly Victorian dress. Whilst readying her guitar, she meekly welcomes the audience before launching into a hypnotic version of ‘To Give You My Love’.

When artists perform ‘stripped-down’ shows and alternative versions of their work there’s always the risk that the whole thing will go down like a lead balloon. Not so with PJ Harvey. Her powerful voice and the fullness of sound emanating from her instruments envelop you so much that you completely forget she has no band with her. It’s that good.

The nature of the show is such that PJ can interact and talk with the audience, playing requests and sharing jokes (“Oh, is that a journalist? Can we lynch him?”). ‘Big Exit’, ‘Down by the Water’, ‘Snake’, ‘Angelene’, ‘Electric Light’, and new song ‘When Under Ether’ are all aired throughout the course of the evening, as the audience falls further and further under Polly Jean’s spell.

When PJ bows and leaves the stage the audience gives her a rousing standing ovation. The clapping and cheering doesn’t stop until she reappears for her encore almost five minutes later. Once again she works her magic, which includes a rawkus rendition of ‘Sheela-Na-Gig’.

When she departs the stage this time she doesn’t reappear, so we head for the exit.

Laura and I walk the short distance to the Foggy Dew for a nightcap. In there we find Jason and, among others, John H – Dublin’s premier comic book vendor and all-round nice guy. There’s more drink, a lot of talking and joking, and then the barman calls for last orders. Time to go. There’s nothing to do except go back to the apartment. So we make our way across the river where a comfy couch and a sleeping bag await me.


Originally written after PJ Harvey’s concert on December 14th 2007 and posted on my MySpace blog. I’ve reposted it here to provide you with something to read until I have newer material to submit.

  1. This is sweet! More more more!

  2. The upcoming God is an Astronaut show should give me more material to write! :o)

  3. willayerst says:

    More trains, please.

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