Dark thoughts , Brighton Cowley club

Dark thoughts, telekineses, never
Brighton Crowley club

Funnily enough whenever I’m asked about my favourite gigs I tend to mention the ones I was involved in putting on rather than the many amazing spectacles I have travelled to see. First time in Brighton I saw fugazi in the dome and that was a special night. Fugazi felt like they were ready to bring our diy to a whole new level and that our small alternative was briefly seen as a progressive light by many more that the handfuls that had been screaming about it in each city. Against me were similar and that night in the hobgoblin in Brighton we were ready to take on the world and we were going to win. Hard skin and Dillinger four played in a venue I don’t remember but a night I will never forget. Classic songs if not a touch too much alcohol taken by some of the band members.

I’ve been to four gigs now in Brighton. The first three were all memorable so I had the bar was set very high for tonight’s offering. This was always going to be a struggle due to that elevated benchmark but got to start somewhere eh?

I had looked hard amongst posters for other gigs around the city and there was none with tonight’s line up on it. Even my visit to Crowley club during the day greeted me with closed doors and no sign of what was to come. It’s all about the internet these days. I guess people don’t need a flier or poster or gig listing if they have a Facebook event page!!

In all my times visiting here I’ve never entered the Cowley club, i must have travelled at times that it wasn’t open as the volunteers can’t run the venue/ space like many would wish them too. Tonight was some introduction . I know in our punk rock world that age doesn’t matter and attitude is all important but when you’re 49 and double nearly everyone’s age in the venue (in some cases treble) it doesn’t feel like that. And so I entered trying not to give across the impression that I was an undercover con as I took out my phone and lowered my head

First band on didn’t introduce themselves but there was some noise coming from the teenage collective. Huge tight distorted sound with screaming vocals

Second band on continued in the vein of expectation that we all know what they are called and I’m sure the rest of the crowd did. It kind of felt like walking in on a punk family gathering, even more so with no posters being on display anywhere for this gig, everyone know each other in the venue and this could be the resident noise band

I was in two minds about even coming out to this gig as a couple of issues of Razorcake and paul masons book on how we can mould our future was waiting for me. I decided to hold off on the reading in favour of the screamed word and was wondering if I’d made a big mistake.

I had only heard dark thoughts through band camp so their ramones esque tunes took on a completely different life tonight. Like dublins 101s it’s breakneck ramones with buzzing guitars but real tunes below them. By the end of their short set any concerns about coming out were gone and any thoughts on age difference had faded. Tunes for everyone. It wasn’t quite against me in the hobgoblin but a similar atmosphere prevailed and this gig will stay in my memory for a while yet


Cathal Funge. An interview with the broadcaster Cathal about his punk radio documentary.

What can we expect from the documentary?


The documentary is going to be a bit of a trip back forty years to tell the story of Irish music in 1977. I’ll be covering quite a few events from that year including The Boomtown Rats and The Radiators From Space both releasing their debut singles, Rory Gallagher headlining the Macroom Mountain Dew Festival (Ireland’s first outdoor rock festival), Lizzy headlining Dalymount with The Rats and The Rads supporting, The Clash in Belfast and Dublin and the launch of Hotpress.


Were there any surprises for you as you delved into the scene at the time?


There was a lot of talk in the UK press over the last twelve months about the 40th anniversary of British punk so I started to look at what was happening in Ireland around that time. The initial idea was to look at the Irish punk scene but after a bit of research I noticed a lot of things started to happen at once and not just in Dublin but across the country, North and South.


1977 in Ireland seems to be a year of beginnings for a modern Irish music scene. You had bands like The Radiators getting into the charts, rock festivals in Macroom and Dublin, The Rats on Top of the Pops, a national music magazine launched etc. The documentary in many ways is about a bunch of people just going for it, creating new ways of doing things and setting the tone for others to follow, which off course they did.


If you compare today’s vibrant local music scene to 1977, it doesn’t just feel like a different era, it feels more like a different planet!


What do you make of those early punk ‘pioneers’?

I love the DIY attitude and lot of the music from that era has stood the test of time. A lot of the events I cover in the documentary are not punk but they were inspired by the spirit and energy of time. It seems as if the climate for change was ripe and people went for it. In the case of Macroom, it was just a bunch of people in a small West Cork town trying to bring some extra business into their area. They came up with the idea of staging Ireland’s first rock festival and managed to pull it off with Rory Gallagher headlining the event at a time in his career when he was playing venues like Shea Stadium, not the local GAA pitch in Macroom.


At the same time, up the road in Cork City, Elvera Bulter (now label boss at Reekus Records) was in UCC and she started putting on gigs in City Hall including Dr Feelgood and The Stranglers. By the end of the year she was hosting the weekly Downtown Kampus gigs at the Arcadia which quickly established itself as the focal point of a new music scene in the city. That scene blossomed in the 80’s and gave us great bands like Stump and Microdisney.


I’m sure they didn’t realise it at the time, but a lot of these people were pioneers. They didn’t just do things, they also showed that there was a market for rock music in Ireland.


How did you get into music (as a fan) in the first place?


Growing up in Wexford, there wasn’t much going on in terms of music, no record shops, no gigs etc. I was very fortunate that my dad and older brother both had great tastes in music. My dad had a lot of old 60’s albums that I soaked up and then as I got a little older, I would sneak into my brother’s bedroom and rob/borrow some of his albums. So, anything from Teenage Fanclub to Nirvana, Mercury Rev, Pixies, Sonic Youth.


Around that time, I got a part time job as a petrol pump attendant in a local garage, working a few evenings after school and during summer holidays. The garage was in the middle of the country side and I sat in a hut for about 5 hours with only a radio to keep me company. Dave Fanning suddenly became my best friend and his nightly show was an education, as was Donal Dineen’s show on Today FM.



Any particular punk songs/albums/gigs that really moved you?


From the late 70’s era, I particularly love Buzzcocks first five singles and I think The Clash’s debut album from ’77 sounds great forty years on. In the documentary, I talk to Paul Burgess from Belfast band Ruefrex and Jake Reilly from The Blades about The Clash’s visit to Ireland in October ’77. The Trinity gigs have gone down in local music folklore, how many bands formed after that night out with Strummer and his gang? On the flip side, up in Belfast the gig was cancelled which caused a mini riot and some claim is was the night that the Belfast punk scene was born. I think that might be stretching it a little but it is interesting to hear about the impact the visit one band had on music fans in two very different cities in October ’77.

Listen to the documentary here

Cathal Funge….a great documentary on 1977 Punk in Ireland

Cathal Funge has produced an excellent radio documentary on 1977 the year that punk established a foothold in Ireland.

The show includes some great reflections by participants including two of the best bands of the era, the Undertones and the Radiators from Space. You can hear:

Elvera Butler (Reekus Records and Cork Kampus venue)

Smiley Bolger (DJ and promoter of Moran’s, McGonagles and the New Inn)

Fachtna O’Ceallaigh (manager of the Boomtown Rats)

John O’Neill (Undertones)

Pete Holidai (The Radiators from Space, Trouble Pilgrims)

John Creedon (broadcaster)

Donal Gallagher (manager of Rory Gallagher)

and the historian Diarmaid Ferriter.

It is a fascinating piece of work, and really captures the spirit of the times.

Here is a link to the documentary:


Cathal was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the documentary and what inspired him to delve deeper into the story of punk in Ireland.