On 7th December 1989 Whelans opened it's doors as a music venue on the southern outskirts of Dublin. Check out this site for a detailed history of Whelans; http://homepage.eircom.net/~lhanlon/History.html
"One feature of the bar is the Stone man, a life size statue of a lone Dublin drinker propped against the Stone Bar. The statue is made with fired wood chips, a sort of complex paper mache." ... taken from the link above!
Fast forward to 2009 and alot has changed in Dublin and Ireland since the post Commitment and Joshua Tree days! Last night kicked off with the hint that it would be a well organised celebration and in the end corporate Whelans stepped back and allowed our best musicians to perform to a packed house of punters making the most of the free admission!
In general each of the following eight acts had about 25 minutes of stage time;
Nick Kelly ft Sean Millar,
Maria Doyle Kennedy,
Highlight #1: Maria Doyle Kennedy was a sensation with her new songs and an amazing chanting song which brought about the kind of sing-song that has made Whelans survive 20 years. 'Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas' was a real treat!
Highlight #2: It was great to hear Paddy Casey sing 'Sweet Suburban Sky' and reminded me of how much I liked his debut.
Highlight #3: I'll never get tired of hearing Ham Sandwich perform 'Running Up That Hill' by Kate Bush. However what topped this was Niamh joining Mundy onstage for 'To You I Bestow'
Hidden Highlight: Mundy didn't sing 'Galway Girl' and slagged off David Kitt who he was replacing on the bill!
Low light: The lack of a compere or MC resulted in a lack of focus. Some of the acts shared Whelans stories but there was a sense that these artists were just happy to play to a packed crowd on a Monday night!
My hope for Whelans is that their focus is on good quality music rather than just focus on the bottom line of till receipts! Here's to many more years in Whelans!