Homeward Bound: A House’s Final Show, The Olympia, HP.

AHOUSEISDEAD are due to play in Whelan’s on 21st and 22nd September. It’s now four years since Dave Couse and Fergal Bunbury started the life of AHOUSEISDEAD, playing I Am The Greatest in the NCH and Vicar St in 2019, and the upcoming shows are focusing on I Want Too Much, which some consider their masterpiece. I certainly seem to have been quite into that album when I wrote the below review of their final show as A House in March 1997. I’ve been perusing old Hot Presses in the last few days with a view to scrapbooking pieces from a pile of dusty and damp HPs I’ve had in the attic for donkeys. It’s just over thirty years since I started writing for HP — my first live review was of A House in the SFX in June 1993 — and some of the issues are from before then, like the 1988 one with Graham Linehan’s Zig and Zag interview as the cover story. I was surprised to find a number of pieces that I’d forgotten I’d written and of all of those maybe forgetting this one was the most surprising. Of course I remember going to the final show of my favourite Irish band but I did not remember that I’d written it up. I’m proud I was asked given what I would consider the high magnitude of this moment and the piece was OK to read. There are typically bits of my bygone writing that I’m not hugely fond of decades later, but I’m glad I got to publish my feelings about this band when they closed the final curtain.

A House / Revelino / Harvest Ministers (Olympia Theatre, Dublin).

BOTH REVELINO and bill-openers Harvest Ministers strutted their sturdy stuff — but on the occasion of A House’s final farewell, they’d both have been outclassed even if Black Francis and Gene Clark had been on stage not just in spirit but in person.

“The best Irish band ever” was Brendan Tallon’s heartfelt tribute to the headliners and it made sense. In as much as these titles mean anything — list-making belittles everyone, and exactly what criteria you might use to decide that this band is any more blindingly beautiful than Neil or The Stars or The Sewing Room or Sunbear or The Smiths by the grandparent rule I neither know nor care — then A House are the ones for me. When I first saw them, I was entranced with them; when I first saw them, I was in awe of them; and while they may not be the only ones that I-I-I-I, the only ones that I-I-I-I will ever need, they’re as close as I’m ever likely to let a group get. (Note for those not in possession of I Am The Greatest: those last few lines are very funny and profound indeed. Just so you know.)

So, although A House have their detractors for both musical and stupid political reasons — not as many as Fergal Bunbury likes to think, but they’re there — just about everyone in this in this packed and ancient theatre shares these sentiments, making for an atmosphere unlike any other gig I’ve ever attended… there are grown men weeping openly. There are grown rock hacks with the snuffles, and they only get emotional when they’ve missed a free bar.

Mind you, A House do rub it in. They kickstart with ‘Kick Me Again, Jesus’, from when we were young and the whole world just had to be theirs, and there are massed going-grey groans. ‘Patron Saint of Mediocrity’ pops up early, and I wish my ex-friend who says all Dave Couse does is write list songs, sure anyone can do that, could have been there: ‘Patron Saint’, a list song and proud of it, is as overwhelming as ever, with a swagger and a fury and a naked depth of feeling that defies belief. “I’m not a genius”, he proclaims. Well… if you say so.

‘Shivers Up My Spine’ is even more than usually appropriate, ‘I Am Afraid’ also (“I am afraid to die / But it’s something I must do”), and even though I could have, and have in the past, done a better version of ’13 Wonderful Love Songs’ than its authors do — it’s all new-fangled, ambient and atmospheric when it should be a magnificent crushed cry, as easy listening as steel claws down a blackboard, and a verse is missing — it is the one song I’d been praying they’d play as it all ends, and I’m a crumpled heap, but happy.

The end comes with a few key tunes: ‘Here Come The Good Times’, ‘No More Apologies’, which they doubtless regard as their anthem, and it is a wondrous thing so long as it’s not about the music biz, but it is, and then ‘I Can’t Change’, terrifically sad but serene, just the mood of the entire evening.

The best Irish band ever, gone because no-one gave a bollocks about them, but gone with a wry sigh, good humour and a painfully great last night on earth. They’ll be missed.

Shivers up my spine? God, yes.

2 responses to “Homeward Bound: A House’s Final Show, The Olympia, HP.”

  1. I hope you aren’t throwing out those back issues?😉

    1. Hmmmm. Kind of? I mean I’m cutting out and saving pieces. By me and some others. But I also have loads of copies that I’m not hanging onto. Found some great stuff by Lorraine Freeney, Nick Kelly, Gerry McGovern, others.

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