Friday 27 April 2018

A very different kind of Saturday night

When I told the good woman I was going to a Foster and Allen concert the other night, she thought I was having her on.

'Where are you going and who are you really meeting?' she asked, and I told her it was indeed the truth.

'As it's Mother's Day tomorrow, I have arranged a special treat for the woman that has long navigated me through this world's stormy waters,' I explained.

She was still looking at me with suspicion while I scooted off down the road, whistling 'Maggie' as I went.

As I blended into the crowd of disciples streaming their ways towards the venue, it became obvious that I was going to be one of the younger audience members on the night, though Mick Foster did read out a request for an 11-year-old boy whose birthday present had been a ticket to see the legendary Irish balladeers; Playstations are so 2013.

Before the show, I was loitering about in the hotel lobby and someone asked me if the songs of Foster and Allen would be my cup of tea. I replied that once a song is good I don't really mind who performs it. Besides, in the late 1990s being able to belt out a few Foster and Allen songs in the pubs around mid-Wales meant a college lad would never go hungry. Or thirsty.

My jaw dropped when I entered the concert hall – there were more excitedly perspiring bodies than you will find in Paddy Power's five minutes before the off of the Aintree Grand National. In excess of five hundred fans were sandwiched into the room and some looked like they had camped out since lunchtime the previous day to ensure they got a seat up front; this was a pair of Garth Brooks's for an older generation.

I scanned a room for a place to sit and was on the receiving end of some steely eyeballing – no one does eyeballing like the over 60s and I was happy enough to take one of the few seats that were left down the back.

What unfolded throughout the night was truly unique. For the next two and a half hours over five hundred fans sang their hearts out in unison with their idols. Foster is a natural comedian which meant the gags were flowing between and during songs. He really had his audience eating out of his hand, and often in stitches. The feel-good factor was soaring.

I touched base with the good woman via the mobile phone. She still couldn't believe I had left her at home, alone, with Brendan O'Connor and Nell McCafferty making eyes at each other while I waved my hands in the air with rows of people twice my age and swayed along to such famous choruses as Bunch of Thyme and Old Flames. While a night at Foster and Allen is far removed from the arena-filling rock acts people my age would usually flock to see, I can testify that the two Westmeath men put on a very entertaining show, and are an ideal way to treat the ones that helped keep you on the straight and narrow – provided they are into Country & Irish that is.

Next week, I'm off to see Megadeth.

Gorey Guardian