We had just come off a very hard number of tours, starting in the USA in June. A 22-date tour which took us halfway across the States. We came home and straight into an into an Irish tour. It felt like we played nearly every festival in the country that summer. The road was long and hard, but the craic was good. Late nights, late nights and more late nights were the order of the day. We played Cork on a regular basis that summer. It’s a place we have gained a huge following. The Friars Walk is a great spot for the band. The seats are full from early afternoon. The two owners, Pat and Ger, look after us well. Loads of tea, biscuits and friendship. In August of that year, we headed north, playing Belfast and Derry. Two cities where we find a massive crowd at our shows; they know and feel the social context of the songs.
In September we were back in the air heading Stateside again. A 20-date tour playing festivals and venues. That was a long tour. But we were a match for it. The band was humming, each man giving 100%. Each man facing the puck out with a drive in his eye. We did some TV and radio interviews on that tour. Then it was back home for the Ploughing Championships in Tullamore and then on to a Scottish tour. It never stops. My memory is that the boat crossing from Belfast was very rough. We were operating on about four hours sleep a night. The Sham was in top form and keeping the craic and slagging going as Zak was embracing his new lifestyle. Paddy and myself were delighted to have the two lads on board and our shows reflected this. We were a full-time band earning a living playing our music and singing our songs. Our dream had come through. But we were working so hard for it. People don't understand the work a band have to put in: the planning, the travel, the late nights, the waiting. It's a waiting game. Waiting to be picked up. Waiting to get to the gig. Waiting for sound check. Waiting for show time. Waiting for food. Waiting for home time. It is all a waiting game.
We came off the Scottish tour and had one date in Denmark. We had played Denmark a number of times before but never Copenhagen. As frontman of the band, it's my job to have the audience in the palm of my hand. Over the years I’ve developed my own way of doing this. It's a different story though when English is not the audience’s first language. There’s more to consider. The slight jokes and side comments sometimes don't translate. It was an early start, 4.30am as we headed for Dublin airport. We checked in and headed to the The Slaney Bar for breakfast. We hopped on the plane and headed for Copenhagen. As we landed each man in the band was a bit apprehensive as we had no idea what to expect. It was a theatre show. We needed to put the ball in the back of the net. We were playing The Portalan venue just outside the city. We claimed our baggage. It’s always a relief to find your instrument has arrived with you and it's in one piece! As we made our way to arrivals, we spotted a man standing there with an iPad and The Druids needing out of it. We made contact and before we knew it, we were in a 7 Seater heading for the theatre. Denmark is a country I like. It's free and easy and its people are happy to be part of the system. They have ownership. As we travelled thought the streets of Copenhagen this was very clear. People have a sense of purpose and are happy to be Danish. Very little poverty or homelessness, very little anger or need was on show. As we arrive at this purpose-built venue we were struck by its deliberate shape. It stood out. We walked in and it was striking, its feel and atmosphere were noticeable with state-of-the-art sound and lights. It was built for performance. We had a look around and met the manager and sound engineer. Then we were straight into soundcheck. Zak's sound can be a bit hard to get at times as he makes a lot of noise. He plays guitar but with an octave and much more. It can be tricky. But the sound guys had us fairly fast. We played a few songs in soundcheck. When each man was happy, we then started the waiting game again. Waiting for show time. To our surprise we were taken backstage to the bands area. Now, we have been in green rooms before many times. They can range from a few chairs to a dressing room with a shower and tea-making facilities. What we encountered was just unreal. Each member of the band had his own dressing-room and shower. There was also a common area with couches and chairs. A man could sleep if he wanted to. There was even cooking facilities and a huge cooler with any drink you could think of. There was fruit and all manner of snacks. There was also a PlayStation with games, tv and internet. Just then a tech arrived with a menu for dinner. This is without question the most welcoming and comfortable green room we have ever encountered. Show time arrived and it was a packed house. We were nervous for sure. Our first song had them clapping strangely in time. When the first song ended the clapping continued. This was a bit strange at first. I had picked up a few Danish words from our other visits to Denmark. I told the audience I was learning Danish and gave them my full arsenal of Danish words which amounted to a total of three words. Tak meaning thanks, Manu Tak means many thanks, and Manu Tosan Tak means many thousand thanks. They loved it. We had them. We brought them up and down with emotion. My formula for a gig is this: make the audience laugh, make them cry, tell them something they already know, and tell them something they don't know. Ball in the back of the net. It was a brilliant night. One we won't forget. We got a standing ovation at the end and played two encores. After the show we spoke to people at the merch stall for as long as they wanted to. Then back to our minimalist hotels. The beds were so comfortable. It was one of our best shows of 2018.
Denmark we will be back.
Mick O Brien