Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Saw Doctors | Warwick Hotel, Galway | Thursday 21 September 1989

Where were you on the evening of Thursday September 21st 1989, at the hour of 10pm? That’s a tad over 26 year ago now. Some readers may not have been born, or were too young to remember. For the rest of you – please stop shouting out your answers at the screen! I can’t hear you! … it was only ever a rhetorical device!

Davy Carton
Me? I was making my way through the doors of the Warwick Hotel in Galway’s Salthill district to see the wonderful Saw Doctors. I was on the guest list, which made me West of Ireland Rock & Roll Royalty. I kinda knew some of the band – A couple of them lived together in some Monkees-esque madcap house with their manager and a few of the members of The Stunning (another quality band of 1980s Galway). They were round the corner from me and their place was always a good bet for anyone searching for interesting conversation, a cuppa, or even a bowl of pasta. On that night I was armed with a borrowed camera and had all of two (yes TWO!) rolls of 24 shot generic 200 ISO film and an invitation from the band to take what photos I liked.

Pearse Doherty, John Donnelly, & Davy Carton

John "Turps" Burke, Davy Carton, & Pearse Doherty

Leo Moran & Pearse Doherty

Davy Carton & Leo Moran

Pearse Doherty

John "Turps" Burke
The lineup was Leo Moran (guitar & vocal); Davy Carton (guitar & vocal), John "Turps" Burke (guitar, mandolin, vocal), Pearse Doherty (bass), John Donnelly (drums), Tony Lambert (accordion). The only major change from when I’d first seen them preform was that John Donnelly had taken over on drums from Padraig Stevens.

Davy Carton, Pearce Doherty, Leo Moran
My memory is that it was an absolutely rockin’ gig – but my clearest memories are of the stifling heat. It was a warm September evening outside and the dancing, cheering, singing crowd inside were just sweating. Most of my photos were taken from the audience level – front and centre at the stage. Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted a better look and a different angle, so I insinuated my way up the side of the speaker stack and onto the level of the band. In my efforts to get the perfect shot, I crept further and further forward until I realised that I was in full view of the audience. Although I beat a hasty retreat, it is for this reason I can sport the rather tenuous claim that I shared a stage with The Saw Doctors! I eventually got enough disposable cash to get the films developed and, I think, I showed them to a few of the guys in the band at the time. But for the most of the time since they have resided in a cardboard box in my various offices and studies as I’ve moved house. I had meant to share them last year on the 25th anniversary of the gig, and I’ve just missed the 26th anniversary, so I reckon that I’d better share them now, or wait until the 30th anniversary rolls round!

These photos (and my photography generally) were never destined for the pages of Rolling Stone or NME, but they are a record of the night. In putting this little post together, it struck me that the live music scene has changed radically in this last quarter-century. Back in 1989 I was probably the only person in the Warwick that night with a camera and now hold the only photographic record of the event. Today, quite a number of fans would have watched the show through the screens of their phones and High Definition clips would be on YouTube and various social media outlets even before the band had finished packing up their gear. I don't yearn for 'simpler' times, I'm just glad that I was there to create a record of a great band on top form, giving it their all on a long ago September evening.

I've added a few shots to the blog post here, but the entire collection can be seen on my Photobucket page [here] and as a Photobucket Story at the end of this post

I hope you enjoy!

John Donnelly

From my notes the set list on the night was:

D’ja see tha’ look Sham?
I Wanna’ Fall in Love
The Ways of the World
When You’re Only 21 (But You Feel Like 69)
Presentation Border
Step One
The Streets of Galway
Why Do I Always (Want You)
Red Cortina
Don’t Let Me Down
You’re In Love With Someone Else (And I’m in Love With You
It Won’t Be Tonight
My Kinda’ Girl
25 Quid
Pied Piper
I Useta’ Love Her
That’s What She Said Last Night
Freedom Fighters
Midfield for the Stars

Drive Away

Davy Carton & Leo Moran: High Lords of Rock & Roll!

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