hothouse flowers set limavady alight
Emmet McGonagle, one of our Youth Arts Correspondents, reviews the recent concert by the Hothouse Flowers. Liam Ó Maonlaí was also kind enough to chat to Emmet backstage about the band’s history and future…
Hothouse Flowers, one of the greatest Irish bands in history, graced the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in a sold out performance on 2 November. Lead singer Liam Ó Maonlaí told the RVACC in an interview that playing in areas like Limavady is part of the essence of Hothouse Flowers. “When I saw that we were being moved in a certain trajectory that was going to end in stadiums and loads of trucks outside I couldn’t follow that, I couldn’t believe in that, and I couldn’t be a part of that. I love playing in stadiums, but I can’t turn away from the smaller venues. “
The band travelled to Limavady from Dublin for the event, and were promptly greeted by a wave of dedicated fans eagerly anticipating the extravagant flamboyancy that made Hothouse Flowers renowned all over the world. The set consisted of more famous songs such as ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Feel Like Living’, as well as a rhapsody of songs chosen spontaneously on stage. Liam said: “During the really busy years we used to write set-lists and rehearse a lot, but these days we don’t write a set-list. I believe in the more rock‘n’roll aspect of just going up there and going ‘let’s fly, let’s see what we’ve got, let’s use our experience and see what happens’. And so in our gigs we pull a lot of songs from our history, but we also improvise so new songs can appear. During the sound check a song emerged.”
U2’s Bono has been quoted saying that Liam is the best white soul singer in the world. On the topic of soul, Liam provided an insight into the significance of soul within all aspects of Hothouse Flowers: “I think that soul is important. Soul in music is that element where you’re feeling something, and I think as musicians we play music to feel the music. We seek to get that feeling that we’ve always gotten, where music is never too loud or too quiet. “
Liam jokingly mentioned at the beginning of the show that only two people could dance on stage at a time; but this request was quickly forgotten when a small army of Hothouse Flowers fans emerged on stage and danced with the band during their performance. The light-hearted atmosphere was apparent throughout the night; not least when Liam got up from his keyboard (showcasing his bare feet) and began dancing and playing air-guitar. Gentle exchanges between the band and the audience added an element of informality and sincerity within the performance; an element which grew and blossomed to such an extent that immense crowd participation often harmonised the rhythmic gospel melodies which are frequently utilised by Hothouse Flowers.
In spite of the fame and glory which resulted from the frenzied growth of Hothouse Flower’s popularity for the band, there were times when the road ahead didn’t seem so straightforward. When asked what song he believes summarises his experience in Hothouse Flowers, he replied; “‘The end of the world’ was written at a very poignant time where we were kind of running out of steam energetically, and we were trying to figure out where we were going to go next. Peter wrote the song, so I think that that is a real example of the voice going up and asking ‘what is this band doing?’”
Although the band have been through their disagreements and difficulties since their formation in 1985, the future of Hothouse Flowers seems to be one filled with hope and promise. With the possibility of a new record, the band seems to have found a burst of life. “We still have a lot of blood flowing in our veins, and a hunger to make something that works, but a rock and roll band is a story in itself and when we started we were kids. We were playing on the streets and so we were from the streets, and that’s a story. We were in the clubs living our lives, and so were from a different story now and we have to see how that story is told.”
“We’ve got some studio time booked that we still have to nail, and we’re hoping to make a record”. Liam continued, saying: “Ultimately, in my opinion records speak for themselves in that they are only snapshots of a band, and I don’t think we have painted our masterpiece yet. I like to think we might, but I think ultimately the best stuff that happens with us is while were playing. I’d imagine that a record is something that would lure people in to see what we do in person.”
Amongst the fast-paced keyboard solos and hard-hitting ballads, Liam demonstrated his bodhran skills, as well as his profound talent on acoustic guitar. Each instrument he picked up was played with fluency, as if it were never out of his hands.
The show ended with a vivacious performance of the band’s most famous song ‘Don’t Go’: a song not only important in relation to the Hothouse Flowers’ propelling to fame, but also due to its sentimental undertone. Liam explained: “‘Don’t Go’ was written for somebody who was in a crash and went into a coma for a year, and that song has been our flagship song for the band.”
Although the Hothouse Flowers have departed from Limavady, they have certainly left their mark in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre with an electric performance and undeniable passion for music. Prospects of a record in the future will keep the light of hope burning for an eventual return.This entry was posted on November 4th, 2013 at 4:11 pm by Desima