herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Shit happens, Fortunately

Some of you reading this will think last weekend's Happens gig in Holland was a 'going to ground' exercise.

But, honestly, it was a pre-arranged concert. Hard as it may be to believe there was a spontaneous outbreak of love and bonhomie in the Netherlands for all things Happens related. Nether-love, as it were, and, in my case, not a moment too soon.

The band argue that the only real world that exists is the one we enter either in a rehearsal room or on stage, and their view that the other 'world' doesn't suit us seemed never more true than on that Saturday morning. But theirs can be a cruel world, too. At the airport they wanted to buy every paper in the shop, while I stood beside them. It was good to hear some laughter, even at my own expense.

I will, hopefully, one day bore grandchildren with these tales, but it's true: In the mid-90s Something Happens were very popular in Holland. We toured, we did radio sessions, we gave interviews and had fun. We stopped out of politeness. "Leave now and one day they will have us back," we argued. And we were right, although they sure know how to play the waiting game.

It appears that a local Dutch act has taken to playing Parachute and is having some success with it. This falls into the 'Dream Scenario Pension' area -- ie they make it a worldwide hit and royalties follow. Whether this pans out remains to be seen, but, meanwhile, some locals, it seems, wanted to hear the original, and the originals, being still with their own teeth and mostly of sound mind, were happy to oblige.

Despite the fact that the last time we were popular in Holland the internet was just a rumour, Team Happens was reassembled. Like the gunmen in the Magnificent Seven we found ourselves reaching for our instruments again. Our wives cried: "But you swore you were done with all that!" They threw themselves to the floor, clung to our legs and begged us not to go. But we were resolute. "Unfinished business," we told them, and dramatically saddled up and rode away. Or something like that.

And so at 10pm on a Saturday, in a venue with an unpronounceable name, on a street with 500 different bike paths, I found myself on a stage with a mixed audience. Half were Irish and already covered in fake shamrock tattoos and Kiss Me Quick hats. They wanted to jump about like mad and sing I'll tell me Ma. They became offended when I didn't join in.

The other half of the audience was Dutch. They had no fake tattoos and no Kiss Me Quick hats. Wearing a Kiss Me Quick hat is a whole different thing in Holland anyway. They wanted to hear our songs, and some harboured hopes of hearing a few rare B-sides. They eyed their dancing fellow fans suspiciously.

So how did I reconcile their disparate needs? Well I ignored them basically. Because I was very, very mindful of the fact that the chances of getting that many people in one room, none of whom had read a single Irish newspaper in the last 48 hours was a miracle of the very highest order. And some people say there is no God.

Tune into Tom Dunne on Newstalk 106-108FM on weekdays, 9am to noon

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