by / September 28th, 2009 /

Arthur’s Day – Vicar Street, Dublin

The premise of these global events was to raise a simultaneous toast to Arthur Guinness and celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the 9000 year lease on the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate. The reality of what was flogged as being a warm commemorative moment was more of a staged event for a camera crew beaming the images onto some little known television channel apparently called Pub TV and into all the other Arthur’s Day venues. A cockney floor manager takes on the task of getting the just out of work crowd on form with practiced cheering, toasting and clapping before he introduces Michelle Doherty to host the actual 17:59 toast.

All of which happens very quickly and before we know it surprise guest of the evening Dizzee Rascal has taken to the stage and this is when the celebrations really start. The television crew and sunny bright early evening start to proceedings make it all seem a little -Super Sweet Sixteen’ but this doesn’t deter the throngs in Vicar Street as everyone dances away to -Dance Wiv Me’. Finishing after only four tracks we get an idea of the template for the evening as each band of the evening plays for approximately twenty minutes after which the entire audience submerge on the bars to procure the next pint of Guinness while the technical staff are uber busy with the stage changeover. Due to the shortness of the sets the bands each get to air their most popular hits and in this sense Arthur’s Day has quite a festival vibe to it.

After our surprise guest, who it turns out was also the Sugababes replacement, are The Blizzards who are very warmly received as they power through -Trust Me I’m A Doctor’, what they announce as their Dawson’s Creek song and -Fantasy’. Brezzie and his pals are sweating and the girls are going crazy as they finish their set and do a quick interview with Michelle Doherty for the cameras.
Following Mullingar’s favourite sons are OK Go, who nobody in the audience is familiar with until the opening chords of their final track of the evening -Here It Goes Again’ which shall always be remembered for the treadmill gymnastics of the video. Despite this they appear to be a good humoured group very much aware of their own one-hit status and happy to ride on the crest of that wave, dressed very sharply all the way, and they do have some very decent tracks to boot.

As it turns out The Magic Numbers have not disappeared into the indie ether of 2005, which is likely what most people may have assumed of late, they are next on the bill, they are still as sweet as ever and manage to squeeze two new tracks into their set, ahead of the release of their third album, in between old favourites -I See You, You See Me’ and -Love Me Like You’ all of which turn the crowd into an all singing all dancing all hugging mass.

Next up are The Black Swan Effect who are being hailed by the floor manager and Doherty as the highlight of the evening, they really get us to practice our cheering before they emerge, and nobody really knows why, as there is no clue in the room as to who they are. When they start playing none of their songs ring familiar and the crowd is generally a bit boggled. Until it turns out they have a very famous friend who decides to play guitar for one track with them, when Ronnie Wood strides onstage we understand all the hype we had been forced to take part in and he leaves the stage minutes later to chants of -Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie!’

After about an hour of technical hitches and lots of booing for the cockney trying to assuage the punters Razorlight arrive at the venue, have a quick interview and finally make it to the stage and play a set that appears to be the surprising highlight of the evening, opening with -Somewhere Else’ and continuing with breakthrough track -Golden Touch’, the much-maligned -America’ and finishing with -Before I Fall To Pieces’. Main man Johnny Borrell looks sharp in his trade mark deep v t-shirt and drainpipes teamed with a blazer and new short(ish) haircut, and they are the only band of the evening to conjure up -one more chooooooon’ chants from the crowd.

Unsurprisingly by the time the final act of the day Reverend And The Makers take their turn in toasting Arthur/Martha Vicar Street is half empty as it turns out sinking pints of Guinness from 5pm isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Despite the waning crowd the band lose none of their attitude or enthusiasm as frontman Jon McClure rants about the BNP and Johnny Borrell’s American accent in between tracks including -Heavyweight Champion of The World’ and the final sing-a-long of Vicar Street’s Arthur’s Day -He Said He Loved Me’. It’s been a long night but not one without its great moments.