The Dark/The Spies
Howth 1978 - 1981
Joey Berry Vocals
Alex McGarth Bass
Peter Leonard Guitar
Gerry Leonard Guitar
Gerry Daly Drums
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From October 1979 to March 1980 The Dark had a residency at the Summit Inn in Howth, during January and February they had a residency in Toners, Dublin.
04/10/1979 El Ruedo, Carlow
13/10/1979 Gladstone Arms, Clonmel
Oct 1979 Hot Press review Neil McCormack About three or four songs into the Dark’s set rigour mortise sets in. I’m chocking in cigarette smoke, sinking in a pool of boredom and split beer, and for what? Another bar, another 12 bars.
The Dark are a young 5 piece, boasting instrumental skill and ability, and an easy attitude to playing and enjoying themselves with a set of practised 60’s/70’s R ‘n’ B classics and several originals. So what goes wrong?
They play R ‘n’ B with heavy metal flavoured guitar licks, effected with a distinct lack of soul. They reduce “Get Off My Cloud” to a 12 bar nursery rhyme; no dirt, no kick, no threat, no feeling. They massacre their predictable covers with misunderstanding and insensitivity.
It isn’t all bad; the few originals they play are a progression away from their 12 bar background. With riff based songs, sometimes, as in “Shadow Plan”, they attempt to create a sad mood through repetition, failing due to a combination of heavy metal lead and cliché ridden poetics (“The rain was falling/on our lives”). “Hippy Hangover” and “Lets Go Insane” are more successful, displaying pep and humour lacking elsewhere; the latter noticeably avoiding another overblown lead, instead dropping to a more spacious bass pattern.
But two or three good songs does not make a golden hour of rock ‘n’ roll; the Dark have a lot to do to avoid stepping into another Irish showband routine, keeping Ireland safe for the seventies.
03/11/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork
04/11/1979 Sir Henry's, Cork
09/11/1979 Kytelers Inn, Kilkenny
07/12/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with Jaroc
14/12/1979 McGonagle's, Dublin with Resistors
The photo (left) is by Patrick Brocklebank and was first published in "In Dublin" magazine. Gerry Daly is bottom left.
In early 1980 The Dark changed their name to The Spies, the Spies continued the residency at the Summit Inn in Howth, started by the Dark. The Spies also had residencies at the Sportsmans Inn, Crofton Airport Hotel
15/05/1980 The Cave, Sportsmans Inn, Dublin Dermott Stokes Hot Press review Schoolboy energy, prankish humour, licks and tricks as yet half digested, all hanging together with a fistful of thread and some sellotape. Take two now and then as the homework is found wanting. In their own way Spies are a second generation version of the Remoulds – I truly enjoyed ’em, like nobody I’ve seen recently, tough it was not so much a matter of a carefully considered act and brilliant songs as a general air of irreverence and humour.
Not that there aren’t interesting points musically, and drummer Gerry Daly has a better grasp of how to use his kit than virtually all his contemporaries. Of equal importance is the music they have elected to base themselves on – a core of electric blues mixed with the odd Kinks cover and post 1977 turbo rock originals.
Not the most common of directions nowadays – the average band whether directly or indirectly thieves from the Police, Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, and neglects the benefits to be gained from a wide base of copied music, meaning this; To make music of great meaning to a great many people you must understand the mainstream of rock music which is based on R ‘n’ B, country, soul and (since the Police) reggae. You serve your apprenticeship before you create your masterpiece.
Spies aren’t there yet but their upcoming single “Thinking About The Sun” sounds good, and shows they’re moving in the right direction. Apart from the obvious craziness of their approach on stage, which could do with a bit of........er........organisation, their grasp of dynamics, (ebb and flow, high and low, contrast), is also impressive. Check them out and see.................
11/06/1980 Hunters Moon afternoon concert
13/06/1980 Project Arts centre, Dublin with The Banditz
14/06/1980 Project Arts Centre, Dublin with The Male Caucasians Hot Press review by Des Traynor A resounding thumbs up for the Project, for providing such an excellent venue on Friday and Saturday nights in Dublin. In a city where young bands have to start off by playing in horrible holes to people who don’t listen to them (if they can actually get a gig), it’s a positive move. Male Caucasians are a rock band. They play good rock music. I’d seen them once before, when I thought they were heavy with out being particularly powerful. They’ve obviously been rehearsing a lot since then, and tonight they’re tighter and more confident.
Their biggest drawback is that they suffer from remarkable inability to project. They lack personality. They’re good musicians with a reasonably good batch of songs, but they lack that certain nameless something, that X factor.
The situation isn’t helped by the fact that their guitarist, who does most of the talking, stands stage left and tends to hide behind the PA whenever he can.
Male Caucasians need either a) stronger songs to overcome their lack of visual presence or b) a front man who’ll make them come alive. They’re good enough. They just need to try a little harder.
Spies try too hard. Imagine The Doors, only not as subtle. Imagine Dr Feelgood, with a little more finesse. The Spies play rhythm and blues, with pounding bass lines. As such what they do is fine – but they never transcend the limitations of the genre.
Lots of people boogied, and played imaginary guitars. When the bass player broke a string, the drummer did a five minute solo. They played two slow blues songs of the “Well I woke up this morning” variety; both finished with long, crescendo endings.
They have a couple of good songs, especially the one which cops from “Hello I Love You”, and “Waiting For The Sun”..... sorry “Thinking About The Sun” is a good danceable single.
Spies are good at what they do, but they’re not my kettle of fish.
Date unknown Belfield UCD. Declan Lynch Hot Press review. From the moment a band walk into Theatre L, meanders on “stage”, plugs in, and looks up at the crowd, you know they’ve made a mistake, and that they won’t be coming back. And they never do either.
Spies attracted an audience of 68. The reaction they got came in three varieties – the silent majority clapped, the gregarious minority yahooed, and the inevitable lunatic went buck mad.
These “gigs” are conducted like a practise session or a soundcheck into which a few casual passers by have wandered. There’s no sense of the here and now, nothing actually counts in Theatre L. Spies for their part, filled the role of “band”, staggering around between numbers, passing half hearted comments to one another, sharing in the charade. For once, nobody ate his lunch.
Was it conceptual, or do Spies always perform in almost total darkness? Their backdrop emphasised the “gloom”, or “doom” or whatever mood they’re trying to convey – the sun bearing the legend “Spies” going down behind houses silhouetted against the night sky. Poetic in the old fashioned way.
Spies don’t seem to realise the potential or the range of the world they have set their music in. Their vision seems secondhand, wrenched forcibly from old poets, and recently deceased prophets – Jim Morrison, to name but twenty five.
Spies’ music has range, literacy and cop on, but it’s too predictably “vague”, and “atmospheric”, it’s pleasant. It’s a soundtrack out of synch.
Ou’d know Spies are ordinary chaps with sensitive souls and good (but not lurid) imaginations, but their overall manner is straight down to earth, devoid of impact. Within the limits of rock, they manage adequately, but the essence they’re looking for is hard to achieve in rock, because rock is awfully limited to begin with – Spies regard the beast too highly, (I mean what has the Mississippi Delta got to do with anything).
Songs with lyrics like “Where have you gone” and “The Clock Ticks On” are dyed- in – the – wool Doors’s rip offs, minus the psychosis. The sound is the same, but the sensibility is threadbare.
The lead singer is given to draping a six feet long woollen scarf around the mike stand as in days of yore when sub – Planxty pseudo traditional bands with names like “Cuchulainn” and “Fionn Mac Cual” were doing the rounds. It’s a small point but it brings the word old fashioned back into view. If they care that much about their hair, Spies are obviously keen on impact and effect, but in the wrong way and aimed at the wrong people (D.J.’s, record companies, philistines in general).
If Spies wanted to enhance their perception, they’d have to venture into territory well away from the Summit Inn, and hear things that aren’t heard in record collections.
Instead, they just like the Nightlife.
02/12/1980 Stardust, Artane, with Bogey Boys
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