I went on a bit of a trip down memory lane a little over a month ago. You might remember my first trip to McNamara’s, and how the live Irish music reminded me of my college years (I make them sound so long ago). During that trip to McNamara’s, I told my friend Lori how much she would like the band Gaelic Storm.
We looked up tour dates, although I didn’t have high hopes. Much to my surprise, we saw they were coming in February to the little city of Tullahoma, which is about an hour and a half from here. Sadly, it was the Thursday night preceding our large annual conference, meaning that I was not free to travel about the countryside in search of Irish music.
Luckily for us, they soon posted another date — the Tuesday before that Thursday — right here in town! I hadn’t seen Gaelic Storm in four or five years, so I was really looking forward to seeing the old gang (minus the fiddler, Ellery, who has been replaced since I saw them last; she left to have a baby).
The venue had expanded since I last saw a show there, so it was good to be back. Lori and I got there a little early, found a hightop near the stage, and ordered our Guinness.
The opening act was awful. (and required a second Guinness)
But Gaelic Storm soon made us forget the opening act even existed.
I hadn’t realized how much I missed them.
For those of you who didn’t know me during my college years, it’s hard to convey what Gaelic Storm was to me then. I think my mom thought I was going to run away with them someday. I freely admit I was a groupie — in three years I think I went to 10 concerts. Each has a story — whether it’s getting stranded in Baltimore all night after a concert, having Patrick Murphy raise a glass to my friend Trena on her birthday (and buy her a shot afterwards), or getting into a theological argument with Patrick after a show (the day after my 21st birthday).
There was a time when I knew almost every word to every song they sang. And I still do know those words… it’s just they’ve added more songs to their repertoire.
See, little Joannie was a wee bit obssessed:
That was in Alexandria, VA, the second time I saw them in concert. They were sitting at a table signing autographs after the show, and when I asked to take a picture with them, Patrick patted for me to sit on his lap and I obliged.
Ah, the innocence of a 19 year old.
I was glad that Lori loved them just as much as I did. Nashville can be a difficult crowd to please — live music just doesn’t wow the residents of Music City. So half the crowd was dead and the other half was drunk. Lori and I were neither — but I was too shy to dance around since we were sitting on the dead half of the room. But by the end we were at least standing and I even danced a bit.
They did an awesome percussion number where each member played a beat with something — Ryan, the drummer, went to town on the side of a wooden box he was sitting on. It was awesome.
They sang a lot of my favorites and some new ones I had never heard. And they even sang Courtin’ in the Kitchen for their finale.
As I mentioned, Lori loved them as much as I did. It’s always sort of a relief when you take someone to a concert and they actually enjoy themselves.
She enjoyed herself so much… she wanted to go back on Thursday night.
All day Thursday was spent getting ready for our conference. The conference officially started Friday at noon, but I had a wakeup call at 5:00 and had to be at the Motherhouse soon after. As Lori and I walked to our cars on Thursday evening (she helped set up for the conference during the day), I was vacillating between prudence & maturity, which dictated me staying home and going to bed, or adventure & love of GS, which meant three hours in the car and a very late night.
Lori followed me to my apartment, so I could continue to weigh my options.
You can only imagine what won out.
This was my reasoning. I could go to bed at 9 or 10 and wake up early, and if I was cranky or stressed during the next day, I would be even more cranky knowing I passed up Gaelic Storm the night before. Or… I could be completely ridiculous, drive to Tullahoma for the concert and get very little sleep, and if I was cranky or stressed during the next day, I would force myself to be happy and perky because I had made a crazy decision the night before and had a wonderful time at the concert. I couldn’t let anyone know I had been so dumb the night before — so I had to be extra fantastic the next day.
See? It made perfect sense to me.
We had called the venue in Tullahoma to make sure that they still had tickets, and we found out that the 7pm start time was GS’ real start time, not an opening act. Since they had only played for about an hour and a half on Tuesday, we figured we’d be back in the car by 8:30 and home by 10!
Lori drove and I curled up in the back seat and slept. (isn’t she a great friend?!) I woke up when we were pulling into the metropolis. It was 7:10 — we dashed inside and bought tickets from the nice Tullahoma native sitting outside the auditorium. Then we headed in (the door was in the front of the auditorium and our seats were in the back, but it was dark and no one seemed to notice) and took up our spots in the back. She had given us two aisle seats, but it still didn’t change the fact that it was an auditorium — and we were surrounded by people over the age of 70. It appeared that it was going to be another dead crowd.
But Lori didn’t let that stop her! We were going to have fun and be crazy, whether the people around us were or not. We danced in our seats and sang along and jumped up every time they made everyone stand.
At one point, Patrick sort of made the sound that he makes when he’s about to sing Johnny Tarr, and Lori let out a huge “YESSSS!” that echoed through the theatre. I thought Patrick was going to fall over. Then, between songs when it was particularly quiet, Lori screamed at the top of her lungs, “Kiss me I’m Irish!” (which happens to be the name of a song) As Patrick looked out (pretended to be bewildered), someone echoed the request, and Patrick squinted into the darkness and replied, “Really? You look Italian.”
And then they proceeded to play a completely different song. I told Lori not to take it personally — I had never heard them do that song in concert, so they might not be prepared to take random requests. Lori pointed out that you never deny requests in Music City. But hey, this was Tullahoma, after all.
The audience eventually got energetic, although they never stayed standing for long. I’ve seen GS in a lot of different venues, but never in an auditorium like this. It was hard — you wanted to dance, but you were sitting in a movie theatre seat. (at least the seats were kind of bouncy) The older man sitting across the aisle from us told Lori and I afterwards that our craziness made his night.
They ended up taking an intermission … and played several extra songs they hadn’t played Tuesday — so the concert wasn’t over until almost 10. Oops! They told the same jokes and sang many of the same songs… but it was still wonderful.
And when they came out for intermission, guess what they played?
Kiss Me I’m Irish. : )