Donovan – INEC, Killarney, 04.01.14


Words: Ralph Mexico

The Kids have been getting very uptight and unnecessary over the acts being reviewed on wearenoise. They label Pierce Turner, Roy Harper, The High Llamas and Sparks as “Yesterday’s Men”, relics from the wrong side of the cutting edge tracks. “Magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life”, The Kids wail. “You gotta’ raise your game, old man.” My reply is one word. That word is Donovan.

Donovan. A Scot by birth, a hippy by reputation, and a simple song and dance man by inclination. Here’s why The Kids should pay the 67 year old some respect: he was the first high profile British pop star to get busted; he’s featured in episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama; the hippy ‘Sunshine Superman’; his ‘Atlantis’ plays in the background while Joe Pesci goes postal on Phil Leotardo in Goodfellas; Rick Rubin recorded a pared-down album with him in 1996; the dippy ‘Season Of The Witch’; The Happy Mondays wrote a song called ‘Donovan’ and Shaun Ryder married Donovan’s daughter; he soundtracked Ken Loach’s uber-bleak Poor Cow; his ‘Barabajagal’ was a major fave of the rave generation; he lives in Castlemagner; the trippy ‘Hurdy-Gurdy Man’ (that last one used to great effect in David Fincher’s film Zodiac – Ed.).

That’s enough reasons to shell out €25.00 in my book. And my book is called “Ralph Mexico Is Always Right”.

The gig was 90 minutes of fun. Does anyone remember fun? As Donovan took to the stage, Jesse from Breaking Bad shouted from the bar “Give us The Hits, Bitch”. And that’s exactly what we got. No filler, all killer – The Hits. With a mooch through ‘Catch The Wind’ to kick things off, he was as good as his word. And that word was Hits.

Hits. He played them all. He told us stories about smoking ganja in Jamaica, having grandkids, customising his beloved green guitar “Kelly”, in between paying due reverence to The Hits. The hippy, dippy, trippy holy trilogy of ‘Sunshine Superman’, ‘Season Of The Witch’ and ‘Hurdy-Gurdy Man’ were the cherries on the Hit-filled cake. It was the most pleasurable 90 minutes I’ve had since watching two episodes of Six Feet Under back to back. In July 2002.

We’ll excuse the cornball excesses of ‘I Love My Shirt’ and ‘Teddy Bear’ (a bum-clenchingly awful nursery rhyme for his grandkids) ‘cos y’know this was Donovan playing The Hits. And on a wet Saturday night in Killarney in early January that was more than enough to be going on with.

The Kids? They can console themselves knowing that my next review will be of someone more to their liking – Suzanne Vega in the Opera House in February.

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About Noise

Cork music since 2010
Millroom 2,
3rd Floor,
Thompson House,
MacCurtain Street,
Cork City,
Conor O'Toole
Graham Lynch