Hank brings back Magic

GOOD thing there are no seismographs in Listowel as they'd have been off the chart on Friday night when the town reverberated to the sounds of a massive rock reunion.

Hank Pope and his Black Magic Orchestra, along with six other bands, turned the volume all the way up in their first gig since heartbroken fans bade them adieu at a concert in McGonagle's in Dublin in 1993. Back then, the boys enjoyed a cult following - renowned for their great tunes and flamboyant showmanship.

That flamboyancy was back in full flight on Friday night at the Mermaids as Hank Pope were joined by local bands Blacklist, Mudcat, Spiderbaby and Save it til November as well as Kildare friends Appo and The Filthy Filth - at a reunion in aid of The Jack and Jill Foundation.

"It went great thank God," Hank Pope bassist and reunion organiser Paul Morkan told The Kerryman. "We had over 500 into The Mermaids and the crowd were just incredible. They made the whole thing to be honest and their support for the Jack and Jill Foundation was fantastic."

Paul had his rock locks shaved to get the fundraising rolling and buckets were circulated during the gig - the takings are yet to be counted.

"The best thing about it is that the money will stay in Kerry and go straight to providing nursing care for the children with whom the Foundation work. It's a fantastic charity working with around 13 families in Kerry and making an incredible difference to their lives," said Paul.

Friday night, meanwhile, made an incredible difference to life in Listowel creating a buzz that is still palpable days later around the town. Nostalgia was rife as people who are now ostensibly sensible parents reverted to teenage excitement for a few precious hours. As true for the bands as for the audience.

It wasn't long before frontman Declan Thornton, guitarist Ciarán O'Brien, drummer Tom Mulvihill and Paul on bass felt the old magic stirring.

"We got back into the swing of it alright, we weren't too bad even though we didn't manage to get too much practice in. The other acts were fantastic though and the crowd really responded to them all which was great. We were always known as a great band to see live and we kind of went back to that a bit, walking out around the audience while playing our instruments and throwing out Hank Pope money!"

The money was specially-minted Kerry dollars courtesy of Tom Mulvihill's day-job as a graphic designer.

Sadly, that's the last we'll see of Hank Pope for the time being. "There's no chance of a comeback, but we will be reforming in September for a friend's mother's 80th birthday!"