Daytrippin’ 2 The Blades
There’s a quote from Dave Fanning relating to the Dublin music scene of the late 1970s, I’m paraphrasing here but it goes something along the lines of ‘U2 weren’t the best or most talented band in Dublin at that time but they were the most single minded in their pursuit of success’. Whenever I hear The Blades’ music that quote immediately springs to mind.
The first time I heard of The Blades was in the summer of 1980. I was on one of Waterford City’s pirate stations doing a rock show as such things were quaintly called at the time. Sorting through some new releases which had come in to us one afternoon the picture sleeve of one caught my eye. A monochrome image featuring three moody looking young men with the band name in vivid red emblazoned across the top it was The Blades’ debut single ‘Hot For You / The Reunion’. The cover had me straight away thinking of The Jam for what seemed obvious reasons – a trio, sharp suits, etc. – and while the comparison seemed valid what these Ringsend boys had in common with The Jam above all else was a gifted songwriter. Like Paul Weller Paul Cleary understood melody and hooks and how to get them into a song.
Not long after the release of ‘Hot For You’ they played The Showboat Bar in the Glen, Waterford City. For reasons I still don’t know I wasn’t there, very puzzling considering that all through ’80 and ’81 I was a regular at the Wednesday night gigs in the Showboat seeing the likes of The Atrix, The Radiators, Stepaside and The Zen Alligators. The Blades were the ones who got away though and I’m still mourning that 37 years later. The band did a residency with U2 at the Baggot Inn in Dublin around this time and the consensus among the movers and shakers of the Irish scene was that The Blades were destined for greatness on the international stage, nothing could stop them. As we all know it didn’t work out like that. Why? Well, who knows, really. The disruption caused by line up changes probably had some effect or maybe it simply came down to plain luck or the lack of it, getting the breaks and being in the right place at the right time.
Whatever, it never happened for The Blades.
I’m happy to report that they’re still together and still producing music of the highest quality, just listen to last year’s album ‘Modernised’ as proof of this. While he didn’t end up with a $50M apartment overlooking Central Park Paul Cleary should take some satisfaction from knowing that a great many people in Ireland believe him to be one of the finest songwriters this country has ever produced.
I know I do.
The Blades play Daytripper 2017 on Saturday 26th August.