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Article 2014 The Year in Review

The five gigs that marked a year of change

It took until about halfway through the second pint before the hangover started to recede. The night before had been a late, booze soaked evening and it was only now that the enormity of my decision was hitting home. Standing alone by the bar of Whelan’s in Dublin on that late March evening, watching Tokyo Police Club, my head was a whirl. I was meant to be reviewing the gig but my mind was elsewhere. I’d never been unemployed before. How was I going to survive? Would I be able to pay the rent? Am I mad leaving a secure job to try and become a writer? These were just some of the questions that were addling my sleep-deprived brain as David Monks and his band-mates wowed the hip people in the trendy beards with songs I’d never heard of; ‘Nature of the Experiment’, ‘Breakneck Speed’. At least I could relate to the titles.

I knew that leaving my job was the right move. I’d stuck it out for seven years, mainly because the recession had hit a year after I’d started and staying in a place where a regular pay cheque was forthcoming seemed like a sensible move. But as the years rolled by, I was growing more and more frustrated. I knew I was meant to be doing something else. Something that I could approach with passion and fire in my belly. I had always wanted to write for a living and had finally decided to take steps in that direction by starting a diploma in journalism the previous September.

From the first class I was hooked and I knew that I had finally found what it was that I wanted to do with my life after a very long and drawn out search. I didn’t care about the warnings from the lecturers about there being very little work because of declining revenues, that you had to be the very best and work extremely long hours to even stand a chance of making it in this ultra-competitive world. I wanted this and I wanted it badly. I wanted to write. I wanted to interview people. I wanted to chase down stories. This is what I was meant to be doing, the furnace inside me had finally started blazing. I knew I had to build up some experience though and so I decided to start writing on a voluntary basis for a music website in Dublin. Combining my love for music and my love for writing seemed like a good place to start but I couldn’t possibly imagine where it would lead.

It initially led to that night in Whelan’s, recovering from my leaving do the night before. I’d finally made the decision to leave my job and attempt to make it in the world of journalism. I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of co-workers and friends when I told them what I intended to do. Instead of telling me I was mad, every single person told me that I was making the right move, that I should pursue my dream. Some even said that they were proud of me. Even strangers told me they admired what I was doing, with the exception of a woman that I met on 1 June.

This stranger was a girl that I got chatting to after the Forbidden Fruit festival. It had been a sun-soaked weekend, with a storming performance from hip-hop veterans Public Enemy proving to be the highlight. Like most of the high spirited, colourfully dressed revellers, I didn’t want the weekend to end after 2 Many DJ’s had dropped the metaphorical curtain on proceedings. How could we head home when it wasn’t even dark yet? We headed to the nearest pub in Kilmainham to indulge in the post-gig pints.

Out in the smoking area, a girl approached me looking for a cigarette and we got chatting. As the conversation flowed, I told her about leaving my job to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. She told me I was mad, a comment that I would have brushed off if it wasn’t for the fact that she was a journalist so she obviously knew what she was talking about.

Despite her firing a giant ball of flaming realism at my poorly constructed temple of dreams, there was something intriguing and attractive about this girl. She was ballsy and not afraid to speak her mind and there was something warm yet cheeky about her smile. She must have felt at least some sort of attraction to me too, as we ended up sharing a kiss that night, although I thought that would be the end of it. I texted her the next day and she told me she wasn’t interested in dating someone without a job. ‘Fair enough and quite understandable,’ I thought but we kept on chatting throughout the day and I must have worn her down a little or made some sort of a decent impression because she got back in touch the following week and we went for a drink.

I hadn’t been in a serious relationship in about ten years but I couldn’t have been happier when I my phone beeped with a text saying ‘alright then, I’ll be your missus’. We were stood watching Paul Weller at the time, back in Kilmainham where we had met a few weeks previously. She was standing right beside me and could have just said it aloud but there was something really sweet about this confident, gregarious woman suddenly coming over all shy. I knew that something special was happening.

As the summer wore on, we found ourselves sitting in a box overlooking The Olympia stage, her had wrapped warmly around mine, watching Eels deliver a set that bounced from melancholy to euphoria and back again, held together by the wonderfully self-effacing Mark Oliver Everett. Maybe it was the warm, fuzzy feeling that the gig left inside of us but afterwards she told me she loved me for the first time and I had no hesitation in telling her that I loved her too. All a bit of a whirlwind in some ways but it never would have happened if I hadn’t decided to leave my job and start writing.

The money is running thin and the ‘thanks but no thanks’ emails regularly pop into my inbox in response to job applications. My bills are overdue and my rent is in arrears, but as we stood in Whelan’s and she thanked me for introducing her to the music of Strand of Oaks, who were tearing up the stage in front of us, I knew that if journalism doesn’t give me anything else, it has given me her. That’s a gift that I never could have imagined receiving when I started out on this journey.

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