We are now in the middle of January 2021, but my thoughts turn back to Good Friday 2010. We played the world famous Barrowlands in Glasgow, Scotland. It has a mystery about it that old venue… down the smelly market area of a great city. Glasgow is a hard place and very tough, but its people are kind and decent. There’s a feeling the city and its people have been forgotten. There's an emptiness and a feeling of being lost when you initially set foot in the old lady, but that soon moves on to a feeling of solidarity with its people. Working people who have been given the status of islanders. People who have fought for the right to survive. People who wear the scars but laugh them off. The Druids love playing Glasgow.
We got the call about four weeks before the gig to come over and play the Barrowlands. I will never forget calling Gary and telling him the news. It was a dream of mine for years.
We rolled out in the van that Thursday morning and headed for Belfast. The early mornings are hard work. Each man struggles to meet the day. The demons are alive at that time of the morning. The narrative of the negative is alive and doing press ups. I was well into recovery on this trip, in fact I was 19 years clean and sober. Other band members were dealing with their demons but had not ran the race yet. Addiction is merciless. It is an equal opportunities employer; it does not discriminate. In the music business we have our fair share of addiction, alcohol, drugs, and gambling.
The opportunity to play this world-famous venue was not to be taken lightly, we needed to be on the ball. Once in the port of Carinryan the two hour drive to Glasgow is a winding road until you hit the motorway. The little seaport has also been forgotten. We arrived in Glasgow and settled into our digs for the three-day trip. The vastness of the show started to hit me. We headed out that night for food and to hit some of the pubs. Even after all these years sober I'm still not totally comfortable in a bar. I can take it for a while but then it's time to move on. The next morning we head for Celtic Park and in to the club shop to pick up a few bits. It's a massive place. If my memory serves me right we met Anthony Stokes outside Celtic Park that day. Stokesy is a man I've good time for.
Sound check was at 5pm and show time was 7pm. Our sound check went very well. A huge crowd from home travelled to the show that night, including my brother. We were so grateful to everyone who travelled. The loyalty of our fans at times is staggering. 7pm came and we bounced onto the stage full of energy and ego. There were 2,000 people in the hall; it was by far the biggest audience we had played back then. Song after song the place rocked, the energy was electric. We played our own song The Starry Plough and the audience sang every word with us. It was absolutely amazing. After the show we were treated like rock stars: selfies, autographs, and so many people wanting just to chat to us. We had a sense of arriving. It was our time. A goal had been met…the question was what do we do next?