Well, the day is finally here: I’m hitting the road, beginning my very first national tour as Mr Billy Fitzgerald. To mark the occasion, myself and my wife spent far too long this morning speaking to each other in impressions of The Band from The Last Waltz (above), expounding ridiculously on the existential and philosophical effects of “the road”. In a few hours, I’ll be back on that road, for the first time in five years.

Those years feel like they’ve been particularly long. I’ve spent a lot of them playing music exclusively to myself in a series of rooms in Dublin and Sligo. I went looking for a sound I felt was uniquely mine and hopefully I’ve found at least some element of that. Now, as I knew I would do at some stage, I’m bringing that sound around the country, playing to new pairs of ears in new places and hopefully picking up some fans along the way.

I can’t deny that I’m nervous about the next week or so of shows. While I’ve been playing live for close to 18 years now and I’ve done my share of gigs in great venues all over Europe, this is a little different.

This time, I feel like I’m operating without a net. This time, it’s just me and my songs and no one else to share it with. I won’t be able to turn around to bandmates and laugh about something mid-show. There’ll be no in-jokes or long, tired chats about music in the van. This time, I’m on my own. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Over the last few weeks of rehearsals, I’ve been putting together a show I think will surprise a lot of people. As I’ve only released three tracks so far, almost every song I play will be new to whoever comes to see the shows. But how I’m playing the songs and the instrumentation I’m employing might be quite different from what people expect. I wanted to make these shows fun for me to play as well as great to experience for the audience.

I’ve accumulated an awful lot of instruments and technology over the years and it’s been a lot of fun culling down the potential set-up to what’s now sitting in the hall, ready to go into the car. Along the way, I’ve dumped instruments, changed how I play some of them, stripped down, built up and ultimately streamlined until I found a balance between what will be fun to do and what will do justice to the songs.

So tonight, I play Cork. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Belfast. At the weekend, I’ll be playing in my favourite live room in the country, in McGarrigles in my hometown of Sligo – the site of my very first gig in 2001 (and where I played with The Frames only 2 weeks after that). After a brief stop in Galway, I’ll be finishing up with my biggest show to date, upstairs in Whelans in Dublin. There’s a lot of driving ahead of me, a lot of podcasts and coffee and setlists and soundchecks and traffic and unfamiliar beds. And it’s all in the name of bringing my songs and my performances to people I’ve never met. I cannot wait.

If you’d like to see me do my thing, come join me in:

Cork Brú Bar, Tues 18th April, 9pm.
Belfast Empire Music Hall, Wed 19th April, 10pm.
Sligo McGarrigles, Sat 22nd April, 9pm (with special guest Cathy Quinlan).
Galway Róisín Dubh, Sun 23rd April, 9pm.
Dublin Whelans, Wed 26th April, 8pm (with special guest Laura Ryder).

April 18, 2017

Posted In: Thoughts