Del Amitri hits Dublin

I could not have predicted, by any guesstimate of the imagination, how last night’s Del Amitri show would go down.

When I was growing up, their hit single “Roll to Me” got played just about every day on B103 in Richmond, Va. I didn’t like it much. I found it a bit presumptuous for him to call me “pretty baby,” and also assume that he was the cure-all for my life. In retrospect, I can appreciate it for what it is. It’s another song with a catchy hook and a message that is so emblematic of the 90’s.

Look around your world pretty baby is it everything you hoped it’d be? The wrong guy the wrong situation, the right time to roll to me.

The 90’s guy is really caught up on his feelings, and he is a very supportive partner. He’s always there for you, even just to talk.

If you wanna call me baby, just go ahead now and if you would like to tell me maybe, just go ahead now. And if you wanna buy me flowers, just go ahead now. And if you would like to talk for hours, just go ahead now. 

Wait that’s the Spin Doctors. What I meant was,

And I don’t think I have ever seen a soul so in despair, so if you want to talk the night through guess who will be there…

But the point is that you’re better than the other guy.

Marry him, or marry me. I’m the one that loves you baby can’t you see, I ain’t got no future or family tree but–I know what a prince and lover ought to be.

The 90’s guy is the ultimate sensitive wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve guy. And it’s also a total facade. The nice-guy archetype has been played out, and once the nice guy’s love has been requited, he’s not so nice anymore. The 90’s guy will say just about anything to get in your pants. But he’s a rascal, we forgive him.

Most people don’t know this, but Del Amitri actually has other songs, a ton of em.  They formed in Scotland in the 80’s, and made some hits in the 90’s. I was 7 when Roll to Me came out, so I knew attending their show at Vicar St. yesterday I would be younger than most of their fans, but I truly did not know what to expect.

They hadn’t played a gig in 12 years before this tour, so them coming to Dublin was a pretty big deal. But I wondered–did they still have a fan base? Did they ever have a fan base? You see, all I really knew about them was this one song.

It’s important to know that in the past year my theme song had become Two Princes, and my sister’s was Roll to Me. We put these songs on at any time when we deemed it appropriate to play a theme song in our lives, whether we were walking down the street with our crew, sitting at a bar, or just cruising around town. These songs got played a lot, and often competitively.

When I heard that Del Amitri was playing in Dublin, I knew that I had to go. My sister was back in Richmond, so there wasn’t a chance, but I knew she would want me there, especially after my husband won tickets from a radio station.

I’d already gotten to see the Spin Doctors last summer when played a festival in Virginia. Let me tell you, Two Princes was exactly what it was cracked up to be. The boys still had it, only they were missing about half of their audience. See, the festival was outdoors and it was raining lightly. By the end of the set, only their true fans remained, and they did a meet and greet with everyone. It was pretty cool. But the Spin Doctors’ MO is different from Del Amitri–they had a new album.

So, what would a show be like for a band that had a hit in the 90’s and then didn’t tour for 12 years? Cursory fans like me who grew up hearing one single? People who embraced them in the prime of their lives? Scottish music aficionados?

The doors opened at 7:30, with the opening act appearing at 8:30. We had a drink in the bar area of Vicar St. and eventually wandered into the venue a little after 9. We wandered in and wandered right back out, wondering why the floor area was full of tables and chairs, when our tickets said standing. It was set up for a comedy show or dinner theatre. But we were in the right place. This was disappointing–I was hoping to claw my way up to the front, seeing as the fans couldn’t be that enthusiastic, and certainly wouldn’t want to put up a fight, right? I had been told that Irish people didn’t like being in front of the stage for gigs, nevertheless the seats were filled from the stage all the way to the back wall. The fans were incredibly enthused, and really quite robust for septuagenarians; whether or not they would have put up a fight remains a mystery. We walked up the side, and eventually found seats about halfway to the stage, sharing a table with two dudes.

Seated next to Norway’s biggest Del Amitri fan and his son (who was 2 years younger than me!), this show was already blowing my mind, and it had yet to begin.

I was wearing a T-shirt with an open chambray button down and some leggings. I thought this was appropriate 90’s era concert attire–if I needed to, I could take off the button down and tie it around my waist. If I had plaid flannel, I would have worn it. Looking around, we could have been at any local pub around Ireland: men sitting around tables with white hair, button downs, and sweaters, drinking pints.There were a few T-shirts here and there. This could have been a very subdued occasion. Not so.

When the band came on, these guys were 42 again. Dancing between the tables, standing on the stools, and shredding on air guitar, not to mention spilling beer willy nilly. And they knew all the words. All those other songs that Del Amitri has that aren’t Roll to Me–people know those songs. With the first few chords of each song, there were cheers from the audience–recognition of what was coming next. A few songs sounded familiar to me, but I was holding out for my sister’s theme song (how jealous would she be?!). Then, when they finally played it, it came and went all too quickly. 2.5 minutes just isn’t long enough. I really think, if you’re reading this Justin, you should just loop the song, make it twice as long. No one will notice, except that they will feel twice as satisfied. That being said, my new Norwegian friend, Rolf, said that it’s probably their worst song.

This could be my most unique concert experience yet, and I was once pepper sprayed by a veteran. The energy was better than I could have ever expected, especially after seeing the demographic. Between the bra-less urchin dancing like she’s been touched by the Holy Spirit, the rowdy Scots shouting from the balcony, and Rolf beside us, singing every word in his Norwegian accent, Del Amitri must be doing something write.

And it just goes to show: if you ever wonder if a band has die hard fans… it does. I once met someone who loved Howie Day.


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