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  • Writer's pictureMartin Bullard

Ireland from the beginning

Throughout the whole of my thirty five years in Smokie there has been one country where we could always tour and that is Ireland. We saw changes after the 1980’s, as many of the former venues closed down, but the shows then moved to the theatres and the venues that put on earlier shows, rather than the former late night boozy joints. Punters started to take the music a bit more seriously and expected a higher standard of performance. Musicianship hadn’t changed but the way in which we played the songs had to survive close scrutiny. Now it is a given that the songs will be played well so it’s just a matter of which songs we choose to play, and that opens up the possibility of a set that runs through all five decades of Smokie’s recordings. We now play “the history of Smokie” and it is clear that the addition of “Boulevard of broken dreams” from the 80’s and “(I just) died in your arms tonight” from the 90’s add a much needed variation to the show. We have a lot for which to thank the Irish because, not only have they stayed with us from the beginning, they also gave a new lease of life to Alice with the “f” version that originated thirty years ago. We have just completed shows in Limerick, Cork and Castlebar that are absolutely perennial winners, both from the numbers of people who attend and also their animated reaction to the songs. I feel like the Irish are always ready to party, with or without us, but it’s a whole lot better if we can be there. One promise I can always make as I leave The Emerald Isle is that I shall return.

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