Just got back from an amazing four days away in Dublin. It'll probably come as no great shock to learn that Dublin is my favourite European city; since 2016 and the whole Brexit shitshow, the affinity I have to my maternal home (on both sides of its border) has just got stronger and stronger.
So, I thought it would be cool to wrap a little holiday around the Unthanks gig at the Liberty Hall Theatre on Monday night; and so it came to pass. Fifty minutes from East Midlands Airport and I was rubbing shoulders once more with fellow Europeans. Everything seemed to fall into place. From the first day when we caught the opening of a visiting Andy Warhol exhibition at the Hugh Gallery (over 250 original pieces including some of his most iconic* work to his earliest pencil sketches when he was still finding his style) to the fascinating conversation I had with our taxi driver on the way back to the airport.
Anyway, you know the griff, time's too tight for gushing reviews; here are my Match of the Day highlights with a few snaps thrown in for good measure.
Best pub. Oh, come on, really? OK, well, it's a toss up between John Kavanagh a.k.a. The Gravediggers, Neary's, The Flowing Tide and The Confession Box. And tI'm barely scratching the surface. But if I had to choose one, I'd go Gravediggers. Run by the same family for seven generations it's a pub that defies anything and everything to do with the modern world. And I got to meet the actor currently playing Peter Pan at the Gate Theatre.
As you can imagine, eating out is a huge deal when you'e away, so two very quick shout outs to Sofia's - the best breakfast caff in Dublin bar none (their Full Irish takes no prisoners) and Montys of Katmandu whose Nepalese food was, to quote Greg Lake, "spectacular, spectacular.''
Best non Warhol exhibition of the holiday - American Portrait Photography at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This sculpture typified their equally sculpted gardens.
Best 'graffiti' - that's easy. PHIL!
Best train journey; the great little train journey from Dublin's Connuolly Station to Greystones - a small seaside town an hour down the coast.
The building trying its hardest to look like Battersea Power Station. Ah, that would be the distillers Roe & Co. (Exquisite brickwork btw.)
The best Art Deco building in Dublin. Archer's Garage, as was. Here's the back story. (That's right, not all is at it seems.)
Two quick asides. The best vintage car spot and the best front doors in Dublin. The car was easy - this classic Citroen with its engine idling outside Benneton was a photo op I couldn't pass on. And the doors. Let me tell you about Dublin doors: I could spend a whole month photographing nothing but the front doors of Dublin. Seriously. Every style, type, size and, yes, colour. Here's four off the bat, but I could easily have posted a hundred and four.
And finally, the main event. I've seen the Unthanks a couple of times now (and indeed I've been lucky enough to have met them) but I always knew seeing them in Ireland would be special. And it was. Very moving. Very uplifting. Very intimate. Almost spiritual. As you might expect, it was a sell out (I think I blagged the last two tickets) and everyone in the room, I know, was as transfixed as I was, such is their stage precence. So, no, I wasn't going to break the spell and take their photograph. Nobody wants to be that guy.
* Sorry, C!