Saturday night saw The Nerve Centre, Derry return to its old days of glory with a packed out venue for what was an extremely poignant and emotional night. While there were many venues that could have hosted this event, the Nerve Centre for myself and I’m sure many others is a place of significance. The first venue I ever attended and the place where my love for the local music scene began it was truly lovely to see it full to capacity for such a special night. Arranged by close friend Eilish Kelly the touching tribute also helped raise a significant amount for Pieta House a charity who provides help to people who are in suicidal distress or those who engage in self-harm. Electric Mainline host Stephen McCauley who had been given the honours of presenting the evening was the perfect choice as everyone gathered to remember Stevie Martin.
Entering the venue to an already packed crowd, I arrive just on time to catch John Deery and the Heads. Although, it has been a while since I had the pleasure of seeing this band, I am instantly reminded of why they are so admired. Their laidback vibe was transcendent as everyone in the main room was relaxed and enjoying themselves. Lead singer Deery is an extremely modest and friendly frontman, making their performance all the more enjoyable. Joining the band on stage, SOAK arrives for a poignant performance as they pay tribute to Rainy Boy Sleep.
As there was music occupying both venues I moved across to the next room to try and catch Waldorf and Canon. Unfortunately, I am stopped at the door only to be told that the room is too packed. The band who also performed the night before in Sandino’s proved that fans just can’t get enough of the duo. Despite, my initial disappointment of not being allowed in it has certainly been a while since I have been told that any of the rooms in the Nerve have been too packed and was a welcome change.
Next up on the main stage was Glenn Rosborough who accompanied only by a drummer opens his set with then ‘Someday you Gonna be Someone’. Glenn’s haunting vocals always provoke a reaction with audiences as everyone in the venue becomes engrossed in his performance. Glenn who is currently working on a new album has been relentless force in the Irish music scene over the last few years. I think anyone who has ever seen Glenn is of the same opinion that his boundless and raw talent particularly lyrically is incredible.
At this point the venue is buzzing and is reminiscent of past gigs when Stevie would have played to packed out such as the Nerve. Helping to bring a change of pace and liven up the crowd, Making Monsters take to the stage. While on the heavier side of the spectrum in comparison to some of the other acts on the bill the band certainly woke the crowd up. Despite, being a constant on the scene for the last five years it’s always amusing to see an audience being blown away by the power and prowess of this band. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s colossal range accompanied by the band’s contagious rock sound has created the perfect fusion of noise. Playing new song ‘Secrets’ with its incredibly catchy chorus and huge sound ensures that this song is on route to become a huge hit
With both rooms full to capacity at this stage the Wood Burning Savages were treating the audience to quite the experience across the hall. The band have an amazing ability to create a surge of energy no matter what stage they grace with their hammering drums and pulsating songs. With the bands signature punk-centric sound and lead singer Paul Connolly’s raw vocals it is no wonder that they have garnered a famed live reputation. Connolly even managed to climb onto someone’s shoulders while entertaining a charmed crowd who couldn’t be ceased dancing.
Finally the headliners of the night ASIWYFA take to the stage, it’s been a while since the band have graced Derry with their presence and it’s a wonderful welcome home. Having cemented their reputation one the most formidable live acts in the country I couldn’t think of a better choice for a headline act. Playing a track of Stevie’s while the band accompanies it is an incredibly emotional and moving moment. Raising the roof I take a good look around the room, there are a lot of tears, smiles and people just breathing in this extraordinary moment and won’t be one forgotten soon.
Saturday’s gig was a special night for a few reasons. First, for anyone who was in attendance it was abundantly clear how immensely talented we are here in Northern Ireland. Secondly, it was lovely to see so many friends who would have originally met going to local gigs reconnecting. As Stephen McCauley said in his speech music is about having a tribe and we all must look after one another. Thirdly, remembering how amazing it used to be to go to The Nerve Centre or any gig and being excited by music. I still remember going to see Stevie there just a few years ago and the buzz circulating around the venue was infectious. And lastly to celebrate the life of someone who through some way or another weather it was his music or just Stevie being himself had moved and touched so many lives.
Well done to everyone involved it was a truly special night.