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Good Vibrations

Marie-Louise Muir | 14:12 UK time, Thursday, 15 September 2011






As part of the filming of "Good Vibrations", the movie loosely based on Terri Hooley's life, tomorrow night the Ulster Hall in Belfast will be in a time warp. April 1980, when Hooley put on the first ever International Festival of Punk and New Wave. The gigs became legendary. Two nights in which all the bands on the Good Vibes roster took to the stage and flicked the proverbial V at what was happening on the streets of Northern Ireland.

April 1980. It's hard to imagine the atmosphere then - even harder now for many of the music fans who will be at the Ulster Hall tomorrow night. For an 18-year-old in 2011, the conflict is part of history books. But for the 18-year-old punk in 1980 he or she was making a statement, walking into the centre of town, into the unknown. Would there be a car bomb? Would someone be shot?
Politically it was a bit of a pressure cooker situation, with the British and Irish governments set against each other. Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister and Charles Haughey the Taoiseach. The day before he was due to travel over for talks about Ireland's involvement in Northern Ireland, Mrs Thatcher stated in the House of Commons: "The future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this government and this parliament and no one else." Wonder how that first hello went in Number 10?
And looming on the horizon, in six months time, the first hunger strikes will begin. 
Can you imagine that nervous energy? The adrenalin rush of setting your face against the establishment? The desperate need to prove that there was more to life in Northern Ireland than killing each other? Punk didn't have just two colours, orange and green. It was every colour of the rainbow, or as many colours as the Woolies had in hair dye.
While I would never, ever, want to go back to those days, if tomorrow night captures any of that raw, undiluted passion for life against the political stagnation and corrosive power struggles of the 1980s, then the finale of the film will be a celebration, not just of Terri Hooley, but of all of us who stayed and believed in this place.


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