Sunday, May 22, 2011

A night to remember - Clapton in Concert and Dublin's Docklands

The O2/Point Depot
A couple of weeks ago we had a real treat as we went to see rock legend and guitar hero supreme Eric Clapton in concert in the O2/Point Depot (can't use these commercially driven sponsorship product-placement names without a ton of cynicism and the original name) in Dublin. It was hubby Jan's birthday treat as he has been a fan since forever, and has some of his old vinyl LPs (remember those?!) which must surely be collectors' items by now.

Birthday boy and me!
We went up to Dublin in the early afternoon as we had some business to attend to - and then we called out to see middle son Martin in Drumcondra. We had a lovely early bird meal at the best pizzeria in Dublin - in my humble opinion - The Independent Pizza Company on Dorset Street, beside Drumcondra Railway Station. This was my first time in its current location as it used to be a few doors up the road above Quinn's pub, an iconic landmark, along with nearby McGraths pub, particularly for punters going to Croke Park to the hurling and football All-Ireland qualifiers and finals. I had a delicious Caesar Salad and Chorizo pizza while Jan had a Calzone closed pizza, something I first encountered on our Italian honeymoon almost thirty years ago! Along with a few glasses of house red, we were ready for the road.
Martin and Mammy

Scrummy Caesar Salad
 Chorizo Pizza
We walked over to the venue at the end of the Dublin Docklands at the old Point Depot which has undergone a transformation in recent years to become the O2, a nod to telecoms sponsorship and an anodyne ubiquity which irks me as I loved the uniqueness of the old Point - it meant something and referenced its original incarnation as the depot at the point where the River Liffey meets the sea and where goods were offloaded and stored.

We walked down long-familiar streets which were a trip down memory lane in itself as we lived in Dublin many years ago, at the start of our lives together. I spent six happy carefree student years there, living in flatland Rathmines and Rathgar, as well as the house in Drumcondra where our son is now staying. So I have many fond memories of Dublin and there are many landmarks that have a resonance for me. Down Belvedere Road, Gardiner Street and Mountjoy Square, and onto Custom House Quay past Busáras bus depot which housed the Eblana Theatre in the basement - I went to many plays there in my student days.

Jeannie Johnston Famine Memorial Ship
The evening was lovely, and the IFSC, birthplace (probably) of the Celtic Tiger, looked suitably impressive, if not majestic like the Custom House. The Jeannie Johnston seems to be permanently berthed around here and it looks lovely, but the highlights of the walk had to be the harp-like Samuel Beckett Bridge and the "Pringle Box" Convention Centre, so-called because of its backwards-tilting circular glass wall. They are beautiful architectural landmarks of the modern city, and have made the Docklands the vibrant place it is today. The Famine Memorial on Custom House Quay is a recent sculpture and is very haunting and evocative of our darkest days. I was taken with the World Poverty Stone, a UN commemorative stone.

Samuel Beckett Bridge
The Concert was wonderful even if Clapton isn't the most communicative singer around - as Jan said we are there to enjoy the music, and that was great. He sang lots of songs I didn't know as I'm not as diehard a fan as hubby, but the perennial faves like I Shot the Sherriff and Layla and Wonderful Tonight raised the roof of the revamped O2. He looked well for his 66 years and I hope we all wear as well given the hell-raising life he led in his young rock years - he has had his share of tragedy as well with his 4 yr old son falling from a 54th floor apartment in 2002. That inspired Tears in Heaven which he didn't sing - there wouldn't have been a dry eye in the house.

Claption in action on the big screen
I loved the people watching before the gig started and decided that ageing rockers attract a certain demographic - ageing rock fans! We had good seats and the big screens captured the detail we couldn't see from our dizzy heights. Clapton's crew was terrific, with backing singers, keyboard and piano players, and drummer and bass player.

Revolver by night
The crowd at the concert
He was supported for the first hour by Andy Fairweather-Low and the Low Riders - and I hadn't a clue who he was as we'd no programme - but the lighting was dire for that hour and he was like a skeletal underlit shadow - though I loved the two hits he sang - (If Paradise was) Half as Nice and Wide Eyed and Legless - I don't thing the setting did him justice. Eric played for over 2 hours and came back for an encore, which helped us forgive his being detached. There was a great atmosphere in the O2 but we were constantly being trodden on by people in and out for booze - I will never understand why people go to concerts and spend their time there in and out to the bar. Dublin's Big Wheel, Revolver, beckoned temptingly but I couldn't persuade hubby to overcome his vertigo to give it a go and see Dublin by night. That's something for the bucket list.

We were on a high after it and got a taxi back to Drumcondra where we'd left the car. We were back home by 3am - I slept for most of the journey and had the Tuesday off to recover. I went to the morning session of my knitting circle, and enjoyed the company of a bunch of formidable women with good chat and tea and cakes enhancing the quality of the knitting.

There are a few  more gigs I'd have on my bucket list, Springsteen being tops and one I hope to fulfill this on his next Irish visit. 


Stephanie V said...

Oh, Catherine, that sounds like a wonderful night! I'm not very good at all those crowds of people but I sure would love to be able to beam myself in to listen and watch.

I think Clapton has improved with age...not something to be said of all the aging rockers. I'm a Van Morrison fan - that concert would get me out.

Pooch Purple Reign said...

what a fab night you had ! i absolutely loved dublin during my - all too short - visit, and im sure clapton put on a good show.
nice pics too... your son is a hottie :)

Catherine said...

Stephanie - it was a great night - and Clapton has definitely improved with age - imagine he's 66! I couldn't believe the energy he showed. The only thing I wish was that he'd played Layla with the electric guitar riff at the intro instead of the acoustic guitar more gentle sounds. But a minor quibble. I like Van too but I don't know if he is doing any concerts this year. Dylan is in Cork in 2 weeks but our daughter is in the middle of her state exams so we'll not go.

Laura - I am still laughing at the hottie remark! Must tell Martin - he'll be either flattered or horrified that someone described him thus! Glad you like Dublin - when I play tourist there it is really a lovely city and I have some older posts where I show some pics of the city centre. It's very historic and thankfully they restored the docklands during the Celtic Tiger years of the boom as now they couldn't possibly. So I hope it looks well for a long time to come. The Convention Centre and the Beckett Bridge are fast becoming icons of the city.
All the best, Catherine.

Laura -