Philip Chevron lost his brave battle with cancer on 8th October 2013 and tonight at the Sugar Club we pay tribute to the man, his influence and the body of work he has left behind. The proceeds are destined for St. Francis Hospice in Raheny, who cared for Philip at his home in his final weeks, in recognition of the fine work they do.
A musician, a songwriter and a rebel soul, Philip Chevron spent a life in service of his craft. His sense of place in the history of Irish music should not be underestimated. If Joe Strummer was the voice of the common man and held as the image of non- conformity in the UK punk movement, then Philip was his Irish brother in arms.
The music of1970’s Ireland was populated by great characters like Philip Chevron, who embraced the rebellion of the punk movement and the march towards a DIY attitude to music. If you could plug in and power up then you were a player. The Radiators from Space grew out of this movement and went on to make a local mark on the Irish musical landscape, disbanding in the early 1980’s, returning to action in the early 2000’s.
Tonight we have two original members of the Radiators, Pete Holidai and Stephen Rapid, in the guise of the Trouble Pilgrims, who are joined by current members Johnny Bonnie (drums), Paddy Goodwin (bass) and Tony St Ledger (guitar).
Philip Chevron was a fine lyricist, writing songs that reflected what it was like to be uniquely Irish. Whether playing in the Radiators or the Pogues, producing music or collaborating with other artists, the words of songs such as Under Clery’s Clock, Ballad of Kitty Ricketts, Thousands Are Sailing and Faithful Departed are timeless and endure the passage of time.
The performances of all present on the stage tonight are both eclectic and original, with the fabulous talents of Púca Puppets, Lars Vincent, Cait O’Riordan, Daniel & Raymond Meade, Gavin Glass and the Holy Shakers and the Pilgrim Souls.
Master of ceremonies, Karl Tsigdinos, keeps the pace ticking along and there are no long delays between acts, which makes the evening more enjoyable and seamless.
We are also given readings and musings from writers Joe O’Connor and Roddy Doyle, so literate and very Dublin, beautifully performed and very apt to the evening. Brendan Behan is included with a musical version of his poem ‘The Captains and the Kings’and Agnes Bernelle is covered by Púka Puppets with an adaptation of a Brecht/Weill song.
From Glasgow, we meet Daniel Meade, a country singer who has recorded his new album Keep Right Away in Nashville and who plays an impressive set of songs before being joined by his brother, Raymond Meade - a singer/songwriter who Philip recorded with. Both are impressive performers and sing together with great harmony, as only siblings can. They play with passion and panache on this special evening.
Cait O’Riordan guests with a number of the acts and performs, as always, with confidence and that great smile.
Lars Vincent, a folk singer who is gaining a strong reputation, also performed with great enthusiasm and energy. He has a terrific voice and really contributed to the goodtime vibe on the night.
Gavin Glass has really developed into a significant Irish musician at this stage of his career arc. He is an accomplished performer and has assembled an impressive coterie of musicians in the Holy Shakers. We get a preview from his upcoming release ‘Sunday Songs’ and the band play with great feel and finesse. At times you can hear the influence of the Band / Wilco in the arrangements and delivery.
However, the nigh belongs to the Trouble Pilgrims who channel Philip Chevron perfectly with their set that closes the evening in a flourish of energy and verve. A great backbeat is coloured by the fine guitar work of both Pete Holidai and Tony St Ledger, while Stephen Rapid lifts proceedings to a new level with his imaginative synth playing on keyboard and Therimini, the latter controlled by hand movements.
We are treated to an unplugged version of Faithful Departed by Pete Holidai, who sits in a chair and lets the power of the spoken work deliver the salutary message contained in the lyrics. “There is no pain that can't be eased, by the devil's holy water and the rosary beads”.
A story that probably best highlights the spirit of Philip Chevron is the recent donation of three of the most prized guitars from his collection to the inmates of Mountjoy Prison. This is a new initiative that aims to use music to help rehabilitate prisoners.
Rock on Philip Chevron.
Review by Paul McGee Picture collage by Ronnie Norton