The train to Dublin is jammed. People are complaining. No seats. Families not able to sit together. Three carriages only- Thomas the Tank would hold more. If I had the kids with me, I would be going daft. As it is, my anxiety levels are spiking thinking about it.
I just need to let go. The girls are at home, safe. We are going to see Eddie Vedder play at the 3 Arena. Just myself, the best friend, our near forty bodies and the memories of being seventeen, loud and heads full of rock.
We also get to watch Glen Hansard. Hansard of Oscar fame for that gorgeous tune performed with Marketa Irglova, Falling Slowly. Of course, for us, Hansard was first known for being lead singer of The Frames, a fantastic Irish group that soundtracked a generation very much like Vedder’s Pearl Jam. Hansard has also made The Simpsons. True recognition.
We get to the venue. I look at the crowd. Civilised, controlled excitement and a definite age group- these people were all eighties and nineties teens. On the way in, cigarette smoke permeates the air which is unusual in these times. T-shirts announce fandom. I see not one person vape. It is just not that crowd, and I am glad times are changing. A young person on tickets loudly scoffs to a colleague- ‘Imagine they have the dogs out for this!’. She sees old people. Eddie Vedder means nothing to her. It makes me smile.
A dog sniffs my bag. If they smell drugs, it is probably because I am a near forty mother who carries chewable Disprin, Motillium and Arret like I once carried HubbaBubba and lip gloss.
The 3Arena is packed. It is a dizzying affair looking around the crowds and we feel the sharp fear of vertigo as we realise our tickets mean an ascent into the gods. Vedder would later acknowledge us folk in the heights, our sticking power proving the success of the show.
A string quartet accompany Vedder and on some occasions they play without him. A beautiful version of Even Flow proves good music is transitional to all media. The crowd is in a paroxym of joy. Grown adults hug. I even see them kiss their friends on the cheeks. Arm in arm, beers held high, there is an element of time travel here. We are in the past but in a fully seated, safe environment. Vedder’s voice is sonorous and distinctive giving us a range of classics and even a few tributes such as a nod to Mercury with Crazy Little Thing Called Love. The best moments are Better Man and Black but what makes this show even extra special is the Hansard duets. Together they sing the Oscar winning Falling Slowly with Vedder taking the place of Irglova in a spine chilling rendition of a beautiful song. We are then given The Auld Triangle with children brought along for the song dressed straight out of a McCourt novel but whose voices add authenticity that was unexpected.
There is much rambling monologue from Vedder, all in good will and praising Ireland especially his good friend Hansard. We even get a slideshow of pictures from his trip to Ireland and hear about his wife’s McCormack links.
My friend and I do not move from our seats all night. We are too high up, too far in the corner but we are happy. We enjoy watching a pair of drunken Cork men spill beer, laugh, hug strangers and attempt to climb over seats. All of these things which usually so annoy us carry an undercurrent of acceptance as no one is in danger. This has been a tremendous night of music and entertainment. We don’t leave until almost midnight, the whole crowd smiling and sated by the experience.
We’ll go again. I am left with earworms and a smile.