Dublin 1976 - Feb 1981
Damien Gunn Vocals & Sax
Paul McGuinness Guitar
Brendan Gannon Keyboards
Brian Seales Bass
Ken Mahon Drums
D.C. Nien were one of the more successful bands to come out of Dublin at this time, forming their own record label and rivalling U2, The Baldes & The Atrix in popularity with the Dublin public. They took their name from the area of Dublin they were from (Dublin 9). D.C. Nien had support slots with AC/DC, Dr Fleegood, Squeeze, XTC, John Cooper Clarke, John Ottway & The Specials, The Members, Psychedelic Furs, Ian Gillian. They played the now famous Dandelion Market on 6 occasions during 1979, and had residencies at Toners, Baggot Inn, Crofton Airport Hotel & McGonagles. According to Elvera Butler (the promoter at the Downtown Kampus in Cork) D.C. Nien were also very popular when they played Cork. Their style was very different from the other bands on the scene at the time, featuring synth and sax in their line up. Their guitarist Paul McGuiness had been a roadie for the Radiators from Space in 1976.
This quote is taken from the book Irish Rock (1992):
“D.C. Nien combined a truly awesome live sound with a tough skinhead image. Fronted by singer Damien Gunne, the band married danceable sounds with thought-provoking lyrics, and treaded the same boards as U2 in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
D.C. Nien played all the major Dublin venues & also regularly playing concerts at the Universities, Colleges & Project Arts Centre, they also played at least two concerts in London.
Unlike many of the other Dublin based bands, D.C. Nien regularly played concert outside Dublin, Elvera Butler tells me that D.C. Nien always went down well and pulled in big crowds when playing in Cork. Only U2 played the now legendary Dandelion Market more often than D.C. Nien.
16/17/02/1979 "Dark Space" 24 hour festival see separate page for more details
30/06/1979 Clondalkin Community Centre with Raw Deal, Free Booze, U2, The Rage, Jaroc & The Vultures
D.C. Nien, though sounding a bit ragged in places were powerful and commanding. Paul McGuinness and Damien Gunn have evolved into a riveting front line, with the latter’s sax-blowing adding depth and colour to McGuinness’ guitar attack. It was their rhythm section which faltered on the night, failing to add the necessary cohesion to the longer songs.
But still D.C. Nien have found the key to their audiences’ motor nerves – and the pleasure is in the turning. Hot Press review Karl Tsigdinos
17-19/08/1979 Carnsore Point Anti Neuclear concert with Nun Attax, The Atrix, Scullion, Sounds Unreel
01/09/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork with U2, Virginn Prunes, Z
22/09/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Red Peters Mystery Train
01/12/1979 Teach Furbo, Galway with The Atrix, Nightrider, The Scheme, The Blades, Zebra, Moondogs, Day Glows, Tears & Rust.
29/02/1980 Belfield's Common Room, UCD "Rock Against Sexism" with The Threat This concert is disrupted by crowd trouble. "We realise that there has been trouble at a few different gigs around Dublin, an example of which was after our own gig last Friday in Belfield. We want to make it quite clear that we don't want any trouble at our gigs. We want everyone, that includes us, to enjoy themselves". Statement by the Threat
17/03/1980 The Venue, London with The Atrix (Sense of Ireland Festival) Chris Bohn review from NME St Patrick's night out for these Dublin out of towners would have been a real dismal affair, if they weren't made of such sterling stuff.
Coming on late to face a half empty Venue, D.C. Nien's jumble of ideas and ideals at first clashed and grated, but eventually entertained as required. The guitarist behaved live a 2-Tone refugee, while the singer danced like a drunken Ian Curtis after a few lessons from Ian Page. The music was similar grab bag, working on a hit and miss basis, mixing modern pop and absurd bop with rash new rhythms.
Sometimes it was quite heady, other times it looked like collapsing disastrously, but the band battled on gamely throughout, the singer doubling on sax to squeeze a few new textures onto the ska and/or synth pop forms. Once they rationlise what they want, we'll all find it easier, but in the meantime it's fun watching them do it.
23/03/1980 Nashville, London with The Atrix
29/06/1980 Tir-Conaill Park, Donegal with Pegasus, Mama's Boys, Brush Shiels Band, Toe Jam, The Bogey Boys. This was Donegal's first open air rock festival
I’ll know the Project when I see it, stuck away in the back of beyond, known only to punks, hippies, pseudo intellectuals, beatnicks, playwrights, creatures of the shadows. The streets all look the same, and nobody can tell me the way.
Squatting on the wooden steps, lips are moved and toes are taped in synch with “Scary Monsters”. The Alternative People.
Northern band Know Authority present themselves on stage, giving first impressions of Magazine keyboards, Joy Division bass, Banshee drums, and Joy Division vocals. But what they actually render is strong enough to make that description irrelevant. Among the season’s crop, they are among the intelligent ones who find themselves belaboured by their own terms of reference in rock. Their practical, Northern amiability countered the intensity of the material and they were well liked. The lead singer is Ian Curtis type (once torch singers, now tortured singers) but he mocks the pretentiousness of his own work – “don’t clap, for God’s sake, don’t clap, whatever you do”.
The dancers were unsure. Music like this isn’t aimed so much at conviviality as self examination – you’re on your own, kid, so that’s the way you dance. The Blades are one of the few bands who overcome rock’s stupidity, who can make you forget yourself in style. But rock is turning in on itself, and in face of this, Known Authority make good sense.
Interval. A queue forms outside the (two) toilets. From the ranks of the fearless primitives comes a suedehead who volunteers to pee in the sink. He then entreats some girls to embark on a similar course of action, before pushing open the cubicle door and extricating his mate. Good humoured bad taste, you could say.
Bad humoured bad taste accompanied D.C. Nien in the form of the Irish Movement, flirting with Nazism and insisting that their grannies were dubs. Eclipsed by Paul McGuinness’ native suss, they just wallowed.
D.C. Nien’s lyrics are obvious, and so is their music, but all things considered they vault clear of the usual atrophy. As Paul Weller has proved, you don’t have to be Confucius to make your presence welcome and worthy.
The things that make D.C. Nien work – looks, integrity, humour – are things which most musicians haven’t got. Nine people out of ten can pour forth about nuclear war, the man in the grey suit, the futility of today’s leisure pursuits, and succeed only in emphasising their own redundancy.
D.C. Nien may use a similar shorthand, but to see them is to realise an essential difference which is hard to articulate, simple to understand. So see them.
03/01/1981 UCC Downtown Kampus, Cork. This is D.C. Nien last known gig before re appearing as the Tokyo Olympics.
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