Finbarr Donnelly Vocals
Ricky Dineen Guitar
Mick Finnegan Guitar
Philip O'Connell Bass
Keith "Smelly" O'Connell Drums
Mick was replaced on guitar by Giordai Ua Laoghaire, he would would also leave after about nine months to join Microdisney. Nun Attax were one of the first "Punk/New Wave" band to come out of Cork. They were regarded as the "house" band at the Downtown Kampus.
14/02/1978 Mayfield Community School, Cork
23/06/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Sacre Bleu
11/08/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Bogey Boys
17-19/08/1979 Carnsore Point Anti Neuclear concert with D. C. Nien, The Atrix, Scullion, Sounds Unreel
24/11/1979 Downtown Kampus, Cork with U2
01/03/1980 College Bar, UCC with Constant Reminders & Toxic Agents
First on tonight, to face a hostile crowd of their personal friends and enemies, are Constant Reminders. They’re fronted by a gangling tall and insane person called Mick Lynch (a lovely crew cut he has for years and an inane leer) who might be drunk, and is taking the piss.
In fact, the intros or between songs fillers in are almost more fascinating than the songs themselves. Mick’s combination of childish naivety and irresponsible insanity is set off by Cathal Coughlan as angry intellectual sneering punk. Cathal is slightly less upfront that Michael and looks as if he should be doing something with his hands, as indeed he should – he normally plays a borrowed synth, which is unavailable tonight, word has it.
Actually, they’ve a nucleus (guitar, bass and drums) of sound, normal and able musicians and would normally be enjoyable, even fascinating, but not tonight, as they forgot words, run out of songs, (and repeat them), and sing out of tune.
You’ve heard about Nun Attax before, and rightly so. They’re Cork’s great white hope for the 80’s, even to the extent of Donnelly (the singer) emphasising his (mild but real) Belfast accent. They’re brill, and they’ve even got a topical song (“Sense of Ireland). Gurdy, their new lead guitarist, who I always thought to be a hippy (long hair and a goatee) looks very happy playing in this context, wearing a brand new crew cut. And yes, they’re becoming very tight, a force undoubtedly to be reckoned with on the national scene.
By the time Toxic Agents came on, my critical faculties were pretty well pickled, considering the location, and I shouldn’t say anything about them, perhaps, but it did strike me as incongruous, at one stage, that they, with five or more (I was finding it hard to count) musicians should produce exactly the same sound, on “Shadow Play”, as Gallagher does with three, and later on, (during “Mary of the 4th Form”) that they should even want to sound the same as the Rats, or any other band.
However, I was drunk, so I shouldn’t say anything. Hot Press Review Chris Donovan
08/03/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Berlin
16/03/1980 City Hall, Cork with Hot Guitars, The Kidz, Banditz, Orpheus & Constant Reminders.
23/03/1980 Dandelion Market, Dublin
26/07/1980 Project Arts Centre, Dublin with Moondogs, Chant! Chant! Chant!
30/08/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Urban Blitz, Mirco-Disney, Mean Features & Open Hearts
27/09/1980 Boddis Magnet Bar, Dublin with Mirco-Disney, Human Dance Faction
Joy Divisions beckoning finger, their supreme martyrdom and state of grace, seem to have turned many heads, tuned many new guitars, the name finding its way onto the back of many jackets, carelessly daubed beneath the Clash and PIL. Yhe big beat todays counter culture goes for!
The first two groups on this evening both shared the strong influence of Joy Division, that bass on bass backdrop, the chiming guitar – but there the similarity ends. Where Micro Disney are fresh, stimulating, demanding and intense, Human Dance Faction are stilted, posed, self- consciously artistic.
Micro Disney come from Cork, and seem to have reached this new music the hard way, stumbling through R ‘n’ B, Rory G., Jimi Hendrix, guided only by passion, belief, the need to speak out. Their wall of phased sound is modern but the Irishness of the group provides the backbone to the beat. They divide and scathe and argue about repressions of religion and attitude and boredom that many of us in Dublin never new, few at least shout about.
Using (instead of bathing in the reflected glory of) the new punk/funk hybrid, Micro Disney’s mongoloid attacks hit home with force and violence, but there is still room for laughter and joking. There is no pose. They mean it, men.
Human Dance Faction come from Dublin, and the word hip closes around their warholian stencils and suffocates with pretension. They have arrived at this new music through reading too many Ray Lowry cartoons. Feedback is a statement. You can find the meaning of life in there somewhere. Their music is sometimes catchy. Sometimes pretty. Often it is discordant – art or accident? You can’t tell, everything is safe in this garden of cosmetics. They leave the stage smug in the belief that Picasso used to paint by numbers.
And then there were Nun Attax. Excuse me, I don’t feel well, can I …. No use, the way to the toilet is blocked, I have to face this one unaided. Donnelly is throwing impossible shapes over crazy rhythms. I worry that insanity might be catching. I keep getting up to dance, but nobody else is, so I sit down again, flustered. The Nun Attax are inspired and inspiring, thundering drums and bass, the guitar apparently happy in its inability to relate to its surroundings, Donnelly’s voice demanding a piece of the action: they carve new paths through territory occupied by marauding bands of Cramps and Beafhearts, led on by the guiding light of Screamin’ Jay, they juggle and play with tumbling sounds and ideas and emotions. Some might call it noise. They might even be right.
And somehow, by existing in these strange lands, Nun Attax create something very special. For me, one song displaced me with its sadness, as Donnelly crooned (correct use of the verb to croon) “I’ve never been so sad in all my life/Oh honey baby love I love you”. Something ventured, something gained.
After the Nun Attax, geography will never be the same again. Neil McCormick Hot Press
09/10/1980 Magnet Bar, Dublin with Human Dance Faction
22/11/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Dirty Weekend, The Flaamacs
“They’re going to play a load of Linda Ronstadt songs” That’s what filtered through before Dirty Weekend came on. So much for cover versions. Poor old Smokey Robinson. The opening number took me completely by surprise. It wasn’t just modern rendition of “Heatwave”. Dirty Weekend gave it their own oomph, but retained the feel of the original. And let’s be honest, there’s only one definitive version and that’s the original.
Pete Briquette and friends were tight enough to get all the right notes and loose enough to relax and enjoy themselves. But it was Jane Aire’s voice that really shone through. She’s the Chiffons, Shangri Las, Ronettes and Martha and the Vandellas down pat, the outcome being the kind of pipes that made Phil Spector swoon. A pure 60s pop voice.
They followed up with “Dancing in The Streets”, The Tracks Of My Tears”, “He’s A Rebel” and a very bouncy version of “Stand By Me”, which was a delight, especially since Bette Midler’s maudlin version last year put me right off the song.
Guitar player Huw Gower stepped up to sing “Every Inch Of You”. It was gusty, with some slow burning keyboard playing behind it. But in fact Gower was the big flaw in the ensemble. While the rest of the band maintained a raw, punchy feel his guitar was too slick and sugary: it would have sounded better on an Eagles album. It went right against the grain of the music.
Despite my high hopes the didn’t play Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music”. Still, it was dance music and the people danced. The second half of the set paled and got quite boring. The songs took on more of a rock flavour and I and my feet lost interest.
At last I’ve seen Nun Attax. Maybe, after all I’d heard, I was expecting too much. Even the most tacit of folk become frothing Hitlers on the subject of Cork’s fab four. I can’t see why, but I can see something that threads all their detractors together; that is they all prefer people who pretend to be musicians. The Nun Attax fly in the face of such nonsense with unassuming mockery. They do as they feel, when and if it suits them, which is where my disappointment comes in. I don’t think it was a particularly good night for them. I was quite bored by a lot of their material and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were too. Songs like “White Cortina” and (I think) “My Book” had very little going for them other that Donnelly’s divine delivery – and he has delivery! Visually he can be riveting. You just don’t know what he’s going to do next. At one stage he was trying, unsuccessfully for a while, to bum a cigarette from the audience.
They finished up with “Alien” and got called back foe an encore. Donnelly and a fan stepped up to the microphone for a duet. They sang “Silent Night”. The crowd joined in.
Earlier in the evening when the hall was near empty the Flaa-Macs made their debut. Now, I’ll admit I know two of them, so you can take or leave what I say.
Cathal from Micro Disney and Nun Attax Donnely joined stage for “Good Times”. Whew! What a version. Better than Chic’s. The small crowd started bopping in all directions.
For a first gig it was bloody good. Richard Mealy Hot Press
28/11/1980 TCD with Micro Disney, Urban Blitz, Mean Features
12/12/1980 Abbey Inn, Tralee
13/12/1980 Abbey Inn, Tralee
27/12/1980 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Virgin Prunes
17/01/1981 Boddis, Magnet Bar, Dublin
24/01/1981 UCC Granary Theatre, Cork with Mean Features, Micro-Disney, The Flaamacs
07/02/1981 Downtown Kampus, Cork with Mean Features, Micro-Disney, The Flaamacs
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