Shane MacGowan is in the Sugar Club in Dublin, shuffling like Boris Karloff. His face is waxy and his features are strangely frozen. On the other side of the room, Moya Brennan is talking to Julie Feeney, two astonishing voices in perfect accord. Declan O’ Rourke is on the stage, doing his best to inspire the crowd with ‘Galileo’. Some people are plainly thrilled but hey, this is a media launch and there’s a lot of plugging and flesh-pressing required.
This is a celebration of Hot Press and its 30 year history as Ireland’s premier rock magazine. Images from the old cover stories are flashing on the screen above the stage – from Rory Gallagher and Phil Lynott to Bono, Van, Geldof and Sinead. It’s a story we’ve all got a stake in, and so the mood is exceedingly up-beat.
As the bottles clink, there’s also talk of the annual Who’s Who publication – another Hot Press project that identifies the major music industry names on the island. This is a competitive crew, and so there is talk of column inches, billings and photo inserts. And as the night grows ever more fluid, the entire posse decamps to the roof garden, where those legendary voices are doused in nicotine.
We steer around the corner to the Crawdaddy, where the discussions start to falter and the captains of industry are drooling Guinness and blackcurrant down their expensive suits. No matter. The stars are out, the evening is balmy and this is still a tremendous alternative to civvy street.