Ringsend Dublin 1979 to 1986
1979 - 1982
Paul Cleary Bass & Vocals
Lar Cleary Guitar
Pat Larkin Drums
The Blades were originally a 5 piece band, but this line up only lasted until their first gig. The band were kicked off stage at this gig for "playing the British" national anthem, "God Save The Queen" by the "Sex Pistols". The Blades were considered by many Dubliners too be the best band in town, far better than U2. Having herd their recordings, it is a surprise to me that The Blades never followed U2 into the big time.
Taken from the official "Blades" page on the Reekus Records site
The Blades formed in 1977 in the South Dublin neighbourhood of Ringsend, with Paul Cleary on bass and vocals his brother Lar on guitar and mutual friend Pat Larkin on drums.
As uncompromising as they were gifted as pop songwriters, the original line-up released two 7” singles: Hot For You and Ghost of a Chance, the latter of which they performed on the Late Late Show in 1981.
These aspiring young musicians honed their craft in infamous venues like The Magnet on Pearse Street, McGonagle’s on South Anne Street and of course The Baggott Inn, where the band performed a 6-week residency with U2 - an event that has long since gone down in Irish rock folklore.
As Paul moved to guitar and Lar and Pat left, Jake Reilly and Brian Foley were welcomed to the band in 1981. In this period they released two singles in 1982, Revelations of Heartbreak, and the double A-side The Bride Wore White/Animation.
In the same year, The Bride Wore White was voted best single while The Blades were voted ‘Most Promising Act in Ireland’, and Paul Cleary ‘Best Irish Songwriter’ in the prestigious Hotpress National Poll.
Carving a sound based around socially conscious lyrical content, gorgeous pop melodies and cutting powerchords, these early singles perfectly encapsulate the boredom, uncertainty and fatalistic solidarity of a recession-decimated Dublin in the 1980s - aswell as clearly illustrating Clearys’ gifts as a songwriter.
In 1983, the Blades’ expanded their sound with additional brass instrumentation, as Frank Duff (trumpet) and Paul Grimes (trombone) joined the band. In the same year, they began recording their debut LP at Windmill Studios in Dublin, with John Porter (The Smiths) enrolled as producer.
In 1985, the band signed to Reekus Records and ‘Raytown Revisited’ was soon released, a collection compiling all the bands’ seminal singles from 1979 and 1985. Also featured were previously unreleased tracks, like Tell Me Lies and Fool Me.
Dave Fanning memorably wrote in the liner notes of ‘Raytown…’ how The Blades were “simply the best home based Irish band of the last five years” and “if you’re a fan you’ll need this compilation; if this is your introduction you will want the best: This is it.”
In 1986, Reekus Records released the much adored “The Last Man In Europe”. Recently chosen as “Classic Irish Album #1” on Irish music blog Swear I’m Not Paul, it’s a proper classic, filled with “gorgeous New Wave power-pop songs” (Swear I’m Not Paul) and a brilliantly sharp lyrical sensibility.
For me the Blades were all about the gigs. We used to travel up and down the country, hit a town, turn the amps up to eleven and destroy what ever eco system was in place with our strings, sticks and brass. It was pure blood and thunder. We’d come off the stage and there’d be skin stuck to the guitar strings, blood on the fretboards and two gallons of sweat dripping from our shirts. Maybe U2 had three chords, the truth, and God on their side but we had white socks, black loafers, and the ghosts of Jim Larkin, George Orwell and Sam Cooke guiding our souls.
Brian on stage in his days with the Vipers, picture supplied by Brian.
One infamous gig I remember was the RTE sponsored ‘Lark in the Park’ in St Anne’s park in Raheny. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon, children out with their parents picnicking on the grass. There were three bands on before us; ‘the Rhythm Kings’, ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ and a synth duo whose backing tapes kept speeding up due to power surges from the outdoor generator.
Then it was our turn to take the stage.
Prison haircuts, scowls to match. One two three fourrrrrrr Opening guitar riff from ‘Last man in Europe’, bass drum off the Richter scale, deep rumble of the bass, and then the brass went straight for the jugular as Paul sliced through the crowd with some power chords.
All hell broke loose. Every disaffected youth from the North side of Dublin had shown up and no one had thought to put up crash barriers. The PA was rocking back and forth precariously. The RTE crew were trying furiously to link arms at the front of the stage but to no avail. Mothers held their babies close to their chests as they made for the exits.
The stage got invaded. We tried to do a slow song to calm things down but the plug got pulled anyway. To us this was just another gig. Maybe a little bit more raucous than normal. Though looking back at it now with the benefit of hindsight it was a miracle that no one got seriously injured. It was strange but there was something about our gigs that just seemed to galvanize particular groups of teenaged, acned youths.
In the TV club there’d be over 900 souls stuffed in to the place and you could see the steam rising and feel the floor moving with all the mayhem and just when you thought things couldn’t get any more insane there was always a few kids that would jump off the balcony just for good measure.
At the Baggot inn the fans that couldn’t get in used to dance outside in the rain while singing along to the songs. It was even more surreal outside Dublin. We used to play in the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) hall in Dundalk. The bouncers were all ex boxers and they were forced to relive their glory days when the mods arrived en masse. Those bouncers didn’t know what hit them. They’d be Fred Perried, Dr Martened and Ben Shermaned before we ended our first number.
Ah yes, those were the days.
Alas, our incursions in to the heartland would become fewer and fewer and our blessed brand of soul was now considered redundant by the men in suits. A floppy fringe and a Casio keyboard were now the required tools of the trade. ‘The Human League’, ‘Depeche Mode’ and ‘Soft Cell’ were coming over the horizon. The machines were taking over. The funny thing is, it had all been foretold in one of the greatest pop songs ever committed to vinyl;
“Not a ghost of a chance….we never had. “
Upstairs, no sweating scene, just friends and allies at a workshop. The Alternatives open, their bassist opting for the low slung Simenon/Ulster model. Still at the 1, 2, 3, 4 stage, they haven’t yet counted to 10 or more.
The Blades are neat if not enough. Their bassist buys his ties from the same shop as Foxton or Robinson and sings like Elvis C so I don’t know whether their Beatlism pop punk revivalism comes from Buddy’s publisher or his clone. Still, they have a design, etched with some understanding fills from the guitarist. Work to do but a concept, worth the effort.
The Boy Scoutz excuse themselves by announcing they had only an hour’s notice so hadn’t the time to get pissed/sober enough. They exude but not flaunt a sense of style, but problems remain with the rhythm machine (The Slits/Runaways trauma too). None the less, new bassist Deirdre has a power and the pulse to develop.
So far experimental rather than applied science. Strange Movements used to be but now their Good Vibrations signing makes sense. Truly, Dublin’s only Ulster band in attitude, their bassist takes off the Undertones v-neck sweater look while singer Turlough has a holed pullover but it’s a bainin. He doesn’t take no fun for an answer either, as much inciter as exciter.
Too many prior statements have used the spirit of ’76 as fuel for other purposes than punk or neo-same. Not the Strange Movements who are instinctive fans who know about emotion not “Rock”. Beneath it all a sense of desperation, thus a lament on “Loughan House”, and of isolation, their projected single “Dancing In The Ghetto” The Magnet Theme, slow and sure fingered and a record worth wanting.
Strange Movements have an instinct for rock’s primal power and can’t be so jaded to pastiche. Their one cover, the Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” but the gang at the traffic lights isn’t in tune. A ghetto yes but nobody’s dancing and the movements are strange, stranger still than Turlough comprehends. If and when…………………
00/05/1979 Magnet Bar, Dublin with the Boy Scoutz
06/05/1979 Baggot Inn, Dublin with New Versions (afternoon)
08/05/1979 Steering Wheel, Dublin with Riff Raff, Skank Mooks
15/05/1979 Steering Wheel, Dublin with Riff Raff, Skank Mooks
27/05/1979 Dandelion Market, Dublin with Strange Movements
02/06/1979 Dandelion Market, Dublin with Jaroc
07/06/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with U2
16/06/1979 Dandelion Market, Dublin with Revolver
08/07/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with Strange Movements
The Baggot & U2
21/08/1979 Baggot Inn, Dublin with U2 Paul Slattery "Sounds" Showtime! The Blades came on and played a damn fine set. U2, I thought, would have to be a decent band to follow them and we were not disappointed.
Sounds review The Blades were supporting U2 at the Baggot that night. It's all too easy to dismiss the band as surrogate Jam types. Certainly the haircuts, the suits, the three piece format are the same, but below the ridiculous caricature of an image seem to lie the rough nuggets of something very worthwhile. The set is all but perfunctory, a typical youth club affair with the band too nervous and rigid to do anything other than show their wares, race through the songs as quickly as possible and head for home feeling chuffed.
But The Blades contain a central body of rock and roll spirit that drives them at times, for a second perhaps only, into an inspired force of soul music that rises above the shapely three piece plodding of the rest of the set.
"Mod? I think I've heard of it, but we don't hear much about London over here". The lead singer, the band's driving force with a taught, uneasy personality that reminds me of Paul Weller pleads.
The Blades are unconsciously (and remembering that only great bands happen by accident) the opposite of Mod. They are gauche, full of energy, naivete, guts and good songs. Eric "Dreadman" Fuller recently criticised a Secret Affair gig, saying "If this is what the kids of today look forward to going to see then it's unbelievable .............."
Yes, I think Eric would adore The Blades.
23/09/1979 McGonagle's afternoon, Dublin
23/09/1979 Sir Henry's, Cork
02/10/1979 Baggot Inn, Dublin with U2
26/10/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with The Scheme
02/11/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin
09/11/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with Myster Men Hot Press review by Missfit The Blades used to make me happy. Now it's changed somewhat. You can be happy in ignorance, but soon the failing will run out from the shadows. It's better to be delirious for a reason.
Anyway, outside McGonagle's, there's twenty people. Wait until the time is right, then it's a pound for a pass. Either everyone is feeling self conscious or lazy, because lights shine on the floor, but nobody stands or dances under them. The cardboard cut outs are pasted up against the wall. Music is neglected in favour of the delights upstairs with the money machines. Watch two girls, mingling with everyone, selling two different fanxines before the music's on.
The Myster Men are here, they really try hard, and a score or so of people move vaguely in appreciation. The Skin set meanwhile perform their usual tribal dance on the floor. Shove someone onto the ground, kick him around for a while. Kick the air. Like Hare Krishna's with a few day's stubble, they don't care about non Skins.
The vocalman needs more confidence but the Mystermen are rewarded for their pains at the end of it all; they get an encore.
In the interval before the Blades, the floor is cleared. Are people afraid of the light; they might look older - older than a teenager? Time for a coke anyway.
It's the beginning of a barn dance. Not enough on the floor so that you can lose yourself in anonymity. Unless you join in there's something missing. The three demo tape tracks and "So" cut the deepest impression. People aren't dancing, but the Blades aren't doing anything about it. Some things need just a little push, Paul. You like encouragement too, I bet.
This is where the change in the Blades is noticeable, in this group I haven't seen since the beginning of the summer. Even pop can have it's serious moody side. It needs a little thought, though the action comes naturally. The Blade don't get an encore, but then I wouldn't want a repetition of (most of) that night either.
I get my coat. The disco is on and there is no bare floor space. I decide to go home and study the law of perversity.
15/11/1979 Ballyraine Hotel, Letterkenny with San Quentin. This concert was part of the "White Heat" New Wave festival. The other bands taking part in the festival are Berlin, The Atrix & The Tearjerkers. San Quentin are the support band for each concert.
16/11/1979 McGonagles, Dublin with Winders
22/11/1979 Olympic Ballroom, Dublin with Dr. Feelgood, Specials
23/11/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with Zebra
30/11/1979 Trinity College, Dublin with Starjets Hot Press review By Karl Tsigdinos Immediately after the extravaganza in the Olympic Ballroom, a young Dub was griping to a portly Dr. Feelgood roadie about having been thrown off the stage during the Feelgood's set. By way of explanation, the roadie growled "How would you like it if you were doin' your woman and we tried to climb up on the bed?"
If sex and rock 'n'n roll are as closely related as that amusing analogy implies, then Starjets were poor lovers in Trinity's JCR, substituting speed for intensity and aggression for passion.
But then they had ample reasons for quick dealing and ersatz set. With the various components of the JCR stage locked in rooms for which keys couldn't be found, Starjets justifiably came within a Howlin' Commando's Wahoo! of pulling the gig. Certainly by the time they hit the floor (literally) only their innate professionalism carried them through a brief and fairly boring set.
Unlike the Blades' opener, which was one of their finest performances ever. Songs just keep flowing from the pen of Paul Cleary, and the band have reached the stage of refining and streamlining them into pop mini masterworks. "Breakin' All The Rules", "Please Me Tonight", "It's Over", and "Screwed Up Again" stood comparable to the superb, already well known "Cindy" and "Hot For You" and auger well for the Blades' future.
Though at a more accomplished stage of development and with a similar armoury of fine pop songs, Starjets were not last Friday's children. Try them in another place, another time.
30/11/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with D.C. Nien
01/12/1979 Teach Furbo, Galway with D.C. Nien, Nightrider, The Scheme, The Atrix, Zebra, Moondogs, Day Glows, Tears & Rust.
Hot Press review By Karl Tsigdinos By following the Moondogs, the blades found their backs to the rock 'n' roll wall. To their credit, they mustered all their evergrowing skill and confidence to perform a concise, energetic, exciting set. Guitarist Larry Schreiber was the big surprise, attempting less and accomplishing more in his new found mastery of his onstage reticence.
07/12/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin
21/12/1979 Wolfe Tone, Conakilty
27/12/1979 Mansion House, Dublin
31/01/1980 McGonagle's, Dublin
00/02/1980 N.C.A.D. Georges Quay with Soul Survivors Hot Press review by Neil McCormack This is pop. Coming in out of the wind and rain and Friday night to warm your feet to the beat of the band. Everybody smiling, elbowing for dancing room. Onstage the Soul Survivors come complete with travel brochure backdrop, Hawaiian shirts and silly flashing traffic lights. Bristly, buzzing guitar intertwine making R'n'B noises a decade and a half old Graham Parker pushes through here, the Stones there. The sound is full, though lacking in clarity of previous gigs; rough edges still show and we are all the happier for it. We do the "Doo Ron Ron", Is this a party?" asks singer Pat Smith. He should know better.
The Blades are another fish in the same kettle. Their big beat comes from a different 60's - sharp, clean, simple, melodic, witty, with vocals that can match anyone's anywhere. It's dance music, lovingly crafted, without cynicism or formula, each song pure in isolation. Never the less, over the hour on stage similarities between songs become more apparent, limitations more obvious. It is pop in monochrome avoiding monotony by dashes of occasional renewed colour, when the sound drops to a whisper and a low voice sings, "Cha-ange Your Mi-ind"...
These two bands make me happy; they make me want to look up dictionaries in search of other words meaning pop so that I can fill a page with them. I dance to their music and occasionally I feel my insides twine in ecstasy and jealousy. I can't explain fully, it's illogical. I don't know what they are doing right, but they do it.
I know what they are doing wrong. Both are lacking to some degree in stage presence. The Soul Survivors are getting over it, beginning to play the pantomime; The Blades continue to suffer from anonymity. The Blades pack so much wit and character into their short songs that their bland stage stance is bemusing and disappointing.
When the gig is over my feet ache and I must search for a taxi in the wind and rain and Saturday morning. But who cares? Life begins at the hop.
01/02/1980 McGonagle's, Dublin
20/02/1980 Rag Week UCG
08/02/1980 McGonagle's, Dublin
15/02/1980 McGonagle's, Dublin
23/02/1980 CYMS Hall, Tralee with Kidz & U2
29/02/1980 Belfield's Common Room, UCD "Rock Against Sexism" with D.C. Nien
29/03/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Bagatelle
26/04/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
02/05/1980 Captain's Inn, Leixlip
03/05/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin with The End Hot Press review Was it the atmosphere? A hedonistic reaction to the impending apocalypse? Or simply that both bands, by common consent, played the best of their lives. This was a perfect gig - sound, crowd, bands ("you should have been there etc etc....."). Vague memories of previous sweaty nights in the Magnet, and a recollection of a fine young band who wore suits, played pop and called themselves the Blades. That was a year ago, and the Blades have since discarded the suits, become a year older, and have a superb set of classy pop songs; Blades '79 were nervous and self conscious - Blades '80 are confident and look for the first time as if they're enjoying themselves on stage.
First up were special guests the End, who I've seen several times before. Their fine sense of songwriting is growing, and quite a few songs have dropped or chopped. Tonight it all gelled - a lot of the rawness went, the sound was good and the crowd loved them. Once they polish their set off, they'll challenge the Blades. A few flaws exist, the jangly simplistic guitar (a la early Blades) and the static routines of their lead singer, Tom Dunne. The Magnet stage is quite big, but only once did he venture to explore even half of it. A few months development will hopefully see them drawing and deserving Blades like crowds to their headlines. Meanwhile though, savour the delights of "Fashion Street" and Refuge".
10/05/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
17/05/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
19/05/1980 Blue Lagoon, Sligo
23/05/1980 Fiesta Ballroom, Letterkenny with Horslips
31/05/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
07/06/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
14/06/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
21/06/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
28/06/1980 International Bar, Dublin
30/06/1980 Blue Lagoon, Sligo with Duke Duke & The Dukes
05/07/1980 International Bar, Dublin
12/07/1980 International Bar, Dublin
19/07/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
The Blades don't strive for too much and in this case I'm happy to ask for less.26/07/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin02/08/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
In London with Q Tips
09/08/1980 West Runton Pavillion, London with Q Tips
11/08/1980 Thomas Becket Hall, London with New Heroes
12/08/1980 Marquee, London with Q Tips
13/08/1980 Hope & Anchor, London with New Heroes
14/08/1980 The Greyhound Fulham With Tenpole Tudor Once more into the Blades, dear friends, and once more the nagging feeling that somehow the very consistency of Paul Cleary’s song writing is ultimately proving an obstruction to open-hearted acceptance.
Each song is approximately as good as each other; ergo, there are no real highlights. Attention needs now, more than ever, to be focussed on set dynamics and pacing.
Due credit however, to the Ringsend ringmasters for the amount of mobility they inculcated into the venue’s normally slackjawed audience, particularly as they were headlining unexpectedly instead of, as advertised, supporting Ten Pole Tudor. A small posse of dedicated dancers, some of the punx an’ all, were on the floor from the word go.
I now hear slivers of U2 for the first time – the intro “Stood Up Again” the chorus of “Million Miles Away”, not anything like as far as that from “Out Of Control”.
But the unhelpful Jackson/Costello association derives more, I now realise from Paul Cleary’s occasional difficulty in singing with sufficient force, those familiar clipped tones arising from strain, not conscious emulation.
Visually, Lar Schrieber in particular seems to be sliding slowly Clashwards, which is good if only because it helps to offset the Jam schtick, which in any case is only warranted occasionally, as on the encore, “Change Your Mind”. But the lack of any sense of build-up, plus the fact that tuning was slipping by the time of the Spector cover “Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts”, cast clouds on the prospects for short term breakthrough. The Blades will not be returning to Dublin in total triumph this time round, but they will not be returning in disgrace either. But there’s still some thought needed if they are to achieve their aim of “Breaking Out Of A Rut”. Peter Owens Hot Press
20/08/1980 Showboat, Waterford
21/08/1980 Village Inn, Killkenny22/08/1980 Project Arts Centre, Dublin with Male Caucasians23/08/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with The Stimulators25/08/1980 Blue Lagoon, Sligo with The Stimulators30/08/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin27/09/1980 Riverstown, Sligo. This concert is part of the Riverstown Folk & Rock Festival
The Magnet Bar
I ducked in the door, paid my quid, and a broken doll hit me in the face. The sound was thick, hard, and on top of it the songs crunched along, danceable music mercifully free of any cacophony for art’s sake. Fragments of Joy Division wove in and out of the mix, a vocal delivery here, a guitar break there. Broken Doll play noisy but coherent post punk dance music, but they are not a dance band. Whether or not a “Broken Doll style” will emerge at the end cannot be ascertained, but on this occasion at least, they seemed headed in the right direction. Begin reviewing the Blades and clichés fly at you hard, fast and frigid, like snowballs in a wind tunnel. I mean, you could call them a tight pop dance band but they said that of the Lookalikes; you could call them “a great night out” but they said that of Stagalee, and you’d never wish to associate the Blades with them, now would you?
So you sit down and think a little deeper. Luckily for you, the Blades themselves make the job a little easier. Okay, so they’re a dance band.
They do themselves no favours by their Jam style line up and occasional but obvious rewrites of Beatles riffs and Weller esque vocals, but it’s to their credit that a look beyond such drawbacks reveals a band apparently set on a marriage of intelligent observation and catchy dance music. You can dance to the Blades - the girls shook their booty all over the beer stained floor for
all they were worth, and the guys wove into their steps every dance style of the last 25 years – but stand still for a minute and listen to the lyrics, especially the newer ones, and style and strength are immediately apparent. It’s up to the Blades to start evolving a musical idiom original enough to do justice to their manifest awareness and ability. Either way the Blades showed at this gig that they have lost none of the power and verve that fuelled them in the early days.
Shane McElhatton Hot Press 18/10/1980 University College, Dublin Freshers Ball with Icarus, Teen Commandmets
01/11/1980 JCR, Trinity College, Dublin with The Xntrix, Rhythm Kings, Freddie White, Mary Black
07/11/1980 Project Arts Centre, Dublin
14/11/1980 UCG Aula Maxima, Galway
15/11/1980 Ballyraine Hotel, Letterkenny
20/11/1980 RTC, Carlow
21/11/1980 Tavern Sounds, Tralee with Breezin'
22/11/1980 Airport Hotel, Crofton with The Departure
28/11/1980 Ruffles Night Club, Catleberg, with The Sect
29/11/1980 Town Hall, Tyrone with The Sect
06/12/1980 TCD, with Rhythm Kings
08/12/1980 The Stardust, Artane with Chant!Chant!Chant!
11/12/1980 Art College, Antrim
13/12/1980 Magent Bar, Dublin
17/12/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin with Chant! Chant! Chant! This is a charity concert, the price of entry is a toy.
20/12/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin
26/12/1980 UCC Downtown Kampus, Cork
27/12/1980 Mansion House with The Lookalikes & Stepaside
27/12/1980 Rebel Rebel, Galway
Larry Cleary interview with Caroline Kelly & Simon
“With your brand new shades and your jeans so tight the sun is burning and I’m getting hot for you”
Oh to be sixteen again. Three years on Pat is replaced by Jake, Dolan is the fourth man. They sing the same old songs but with different meanings as time goes on. The new breed Blades are more heart rendering than ever. In the end the Blades are only dance, ecstasy with sincerity. No one can stop us from dancing and many have tried.
Lar: Punk, yeah we were punks but I wasn’t gonna walk around Ringsend with me hair in tatters.
Lar Schreiber,………Larry………..James Dean, baggy suit, worried look, harmonies, impossibly beautiful guitar breaks. The Raytown express.
Lar: Punk came as a breath of fresh air. It was rebellion, it was different, it was a working class movement, a change.
Are you carrying on the punk tradition?
Lar: There are no roots in Ireland for punk: Punk in Ireland is a middle class thing, we recognise that. The Boomtown Rats were middle class. We formed after we herd “Anarchy In The UK”.
“We created our own image, we started wearing suits to be different, the sixties look. You won’t believe it but it was a coincidence that the Jam wore suits. We still wear them because we can’t afford new clothes.
“I’m living in a world that makes me sad”
Living in a world that mess me dream
Living in a world that makes me mad
This world makes me scream!”
Lar: We are working class, we are conscious and feel strongly about being working class.
What makes the middle class different?
Lar: The middle class have more money and more time. I had to work, I didn’t want to, I wanted to go to college, anywhere but work. It’s easy when you’re working class to dismiss class differences, but when you’re working class you know you’ll never be part of that club.
“Poor Boy don’t forget your station”
Lights on in the Magnet, the girls dash to the ladies to mop up the seat and repair the damage of a night’s dancing, a queue for the mirror. Mini skirts, jeans, bondages, t-shirts, suits, pointy shoes, ties, filthy runners, long Max, long hair, skinheads, high heels, Siouxsie, anoraks, twin sets, Joy Division badges………
I hate him, I hate him. But he’s lovely, he’s got lovely eyes’
“Gosh, you’re so lucky to have a relationship like that”.
What’s your attitude to the audience?
Lar: Get ‘em dancing – if we don’t get them dancing we’ve failed.
Liam: Wow! That’s really great.
Lar: We want to get a message across, the message is in the songs. We’re not part of any movement, we make a conscious effort to stay away from movements.
Dave McCullough: Are you mods?
The Blades: No!
Lar: Energy (their previous record company) tried to make us compromise. They wanted an image to appeal to the kids. I was the rock ‘n’ roller of the band, they wanted Paul to be the skinhead (it was the same time Madness were getting big), wear braces and all that. There are some things we just won’t do.
We don’t have a strong enough image to appeal to kids, we are like the Undertones in that respect, we will have to make it on the strength of our music. Our songs are good enough for the charts, but we prefer playing live than going into a studio. The only way, though to get mass acceptance is through the charts”.
Aim of the Blades!
Lar: We want to get across to as many people as possible, we have a message, it’s in the songs.
“Don’t need no smiling face
Don’t need no false devotion
Don’t need no airs and graces
Just give me real emotion”
What’s the message in the songs?
Lar: Well speaking for Paul, it’s working class angst, his personal emotions, he writes about his experience in Ringsend. He’s totally honest, that’s the thing about Paul – his lyrics come from the heart.
Paul floors me; he comes in with the whole song written, melodies, harmonies, lyrics, everything.
Paul Cleary, intense, quiet, sharp, honest clear eyes, animation, a disarming smile, and a voice of pure soul and real emotion.
Do you want to say anything for the interview Paul?
“No comment he quipped, you can put that down”
Is Paul the main force in the band?
Lar: Paul is the leader, you’ll have to put THAT down. Paul and I are the main force in the band, if I don’t like one of Paul’s songs we don’t play it.
Paul’s now getting more political, personal politics, you know how people use people. We now do “Everything I Own” and “Young Gifted and Black”. Paul’s so honest he wouldn’t sing a song unless he agreed with the words, I’m the same”.
Do you write songs?
Lar: We did a couple in the Baggot once, and I sang them, but my songs aren’t as good as Paul’s. I wouldn’t sing any of my songs unless they were as good as Paul’s.
Tina: Oh Larry! You’re such a perfectionist!
Brian Dolan bass, quiet, a nod and a smile, baggy suit.
Are the Blades a ‘60’s style pop band?
Lar: Yeah, today’s folk music, we have our roots in the sixties, we’re interpreting what we grew up with, you know, it’s folk music, songs you could sing in a pub. We practice a lot, we’re tight, we’ve always been tight, even during the punk thing, punk bands were supposed not to be able to play, but the Sex Pistols could play. I’ve herd far worse bands than the Sex Pistols. We try to have energy, tightness and technique. When I play the song comes first, I do my guitat breaks to fit the song, there’s no room for guitar solos in our music.
Yes, like the early Byrds?
Lar: Yeah, a touch of the early Byrds, I said that!
Jake: Keith Moon to Pat’s Keith Moon, white sports shirt and a ready smile, long time fan of the Blades, now he breaks their skins. Drives a red Triumph.
Do you want to get involved with big records labels, the music business or the alternative movement? You know the independent record labels?
Lar: Is it alternative? As I see it once bands get big they sign to a big label anyway. It doesn’t matter to us who we’re signed to as long as we have the equipment to do what we want and the control. I just want to make a living out of music.
Do you think you should have made it by now?
Lar: Yeah, but you can’t worry about that too much, or you get bitter. We’ve had a lot of bad luck. Pat leaving was a catastrophe, the band would have broken up if Paul and I weren’t brothers.
Why did Pat leave?
Lar: Pat was fed up with having no money. We played a lot live, I mean we had been on TV in the North and here, and then we did a tour of the country dates and we played to empty halls. I mean we played one gig in Buncrana and seven people came, seven people! Pat didn’t like that, he couldn’t take it anymore. He hates travelling, as he says, he’s not a rock ‘n’ roller. Pat’s happy in the Peridots because he dosen’t have to play if he doesn’t want to. He’s got no responsibilities.
Tullamore 1982, mods queue outside the dressing room for autographs on their Blades posters. Everyone goes crazy, dancing on the tables, Iron Maiden denim jackets sitting on parkard shoulders. Shouting and shaking their fists. Brian’s second gig with the Blades.
“The open secret turns so quickly to ugly rumour”
What do you think of Dublin music scene, B.P. Fallon, Pat Egan, McGoolies, Hot Press, Tokyo Olympics?
Lar: It’s not great is it? The Dublin scene is very bitter, we’ve always stayed outside it. When the Boomtown Rats made it, other bands tried to follow. I mean the Vipers thought they made it when they supported Thin Lizzy. The whole things is so fragmented, every one trying to be big. Bob Geldof did it his way, it’s not our way. You’ve got to have confidence in yourselves. There are no original ideas in Dublin, everyone follows in the wake of England.
“Music is a major inspiration, It can take you to the top of the world”
What did you listen to before “Anarchy in the UK”
Lar: Elton John, Steeler’s Wheel, Gary Glitter, Dave Bowie, Diana Ross, I love Dianna Ross.
What’s your favourite music now?
Lar: “Country, I love country, I love Gram Parsons, the Burrito Brothers, though I never liked the Eagles, they were too bland. I love disco music, I love Chic, one of my favourite bands. I don’t like night clubbing, businessmen and their floozies, I like disco dancing.
Are you a good dancer?
Lar: ”I don’t know. Those soul bands are great. The Detroit Spinners’ “Working my way back to you”, the dance routines are great, they can get away with it, we couldn’t.
Mark Venner, manager – with a desire to own a couple of grey hounds, the biggest collection of obscure country albums, dwells in a loft in Leixlip and plays twelve string guitar.
Lar: I liked Cream, I loved Marc Bolan, But I love country, it’s my favourite music, I love the twangy guitar sound. When I worked as a fitter’s mate, the bloke I worked with played country all the time, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, that one “Okie from Muskogie” the lyrics were dreadful but the song was fucking great.
What are your favourite colours?
Lar: Oh yes, we had that one worked out. If I can remember them, um, oh yes Paul is red for socialism, Jake, he’s a Jamist (Jam fan) – he’s teenage blue, Brian is white ‘cos he’s an optimist. I can’t remember what mine is.
Tina: Your favourite colour is yellow isn’t it Larry?
Lar: Oh yes, I remember! I’m existentialist black.