Prepared for Horslips ‘Invasion‘
By John McCusker
HORSLIPS frontman Barry Devlin is expected to attend tonight‘s presentation of the band‘s Book of Invasions album to be performed live by students of Omagh CBS.
A total of nine A-level music students are involved in the project with proceeds on the night going to the LASCO charity organisation.
The students involved are John Kelly (vocals), Conor McAloon (lead guitar), Ryan O‘Sullivan (rhythm guitar), Danny McCormick (bass), Damien Maguire (drums), Michael Rafferty (keyboards), Patrick Bogues (fiddle), Michael Kielty (flute) and Niall Moore (trumpet).
The Book of Invasions was a 12th century chronicle of pre-Christian Ireland. The album, released in 1976, was divided up into three distinctive movements and contained some of the band‘s most memorable songs and riffs including Trouble (with a capital T), The Power and the Glory and Warm Sweet Breath of Love.
Brainchild behind the project, Michael Rafferty explained that the idea developed after a few of the students stumbled on 1970s Horslips LPs belonging to their parents.
‘When we came up with the idea of doing the concert we decided we could either do a pile of Horslips songs or we could do a themed performance with a narrator telling the story as it unfolds.
‘We listened to both The Tain and Book of Invasions and were torn as to which we should attempt to perform. In the end we plumped for the latter as it had a more historical significance.‘
Guitarist Ryan O‘Sullivan warmed to the idea and, as they had difficulty in breaking down the music, they contacted Horslips bassist Barry
Devlin and keyboard player Jim Lockhart.
Ryan said, ‘My father and mother were big fans and they went to Horslips gigs when they were about our ages now. There are a couple of albums lying about the house and I used some of the material for my musical practical exams in fourth year.‘
Praising the students‘ efforts, Barry Devlin described the initiative as a ‘really ambitious project.‘ He also revealed that Horslips themselves never actually performed the Book of Invasions album in its entirety live.
‘We never played right through from the start. We did big chunks of it but we never started at the beginning and did absolutely everything right through to the end.
‘I know they‘ve been practising for months. Jim Lockhart helped them with certain elements like chording, not that they needed any help as they‘re well capable of finding it out for themselves. There were no shortcuts for them. They just had to sit down, analyse, annotate and get it. So full marks to them.‘
Wishing the tribute act well on the night, Jim Lockhart - who nowadays produces the Dave Fanning Show for RTE - said he was delighted to see a renewed interest in the band since their impromptu re-formation in Derry last Spring and the subsequent release of their acoustic album Roll Back.
A few months back, Jim sent Michael and Ryan photocopies of sheet music he had prepared a number of years ago. It proved to be a tremendous help in breaking down the layers of studio recorded tracks.
Jim said, ‘You have to applaud these kids who are taking on such an ambitious piece of work.
‘It‘s one thing to go on as an ordinary rock‘n‘roll band and do a bunch of 12-bar blues numbers and pop hits that everybody knows that they‘re going to be able to knock together handy enough. But to take on something as complex as the Book of Invasions is really heavy duty. I‘m in awe, frankly, and I really take my hat off to them.‘
Among items raffled on the night will be a signed copy of the new Horslips acoustic CD Roll Back, a framed Roll Back poster, a framed Book of Invasions poster and a Horslips exhibition t-shirt.