Fleadh (pronounced Fla, I believe) is an Irish word meaning Festival or Feast, and there were a flurry of such in the UK around the early 1990s, ostensibly to promote Irish music and dance. There were two Scottish Fleadhs (if that is the plural) in 1992 & 1993, and it could be argued from these humble beginnings grew T in the Park, but that is another tale.
Wife and I attended the 1992 one held at Glasgow Green, ostensibly to feed my growing Van Morrison obsession, although there were a number of interesting attractions on the bill as well.
Whilst Wife wandered off to see someone else (The Commitments, I think), I hung around for Rory Gallagher, and what a dispiriting experience it turned out to be. Moon-faced, and having piled on the beef, he was almost unrecognisable from the chap I had seen rock the Apollo some 15 years earlier. Indeed, had he not been wearing his trademark checked shirt I may have walked past him in the street.
Now, I am not going to speak ill of the departed and say he was drunk or otherwise under the influence of some chemical or other, but his set (for whatever reason) really was little short of shambolic. The only song I can recall was the single encore: Messing with the Kid. Quite apt, as it was clear that something or someone had been doing just that.
Van Morrison was promoting his Hymns To The Silence album, and he opened his set with a few songs from that collection before moving into a radically up-tempo (and overly fussy) arrangement of Cleaning Windows. What, I asked myself, was wrong with the JJ Cale-esque shuffle of the original?
We were then treated to a selection of rock’n’roll standards, Van’s first interaction with us being to snarl “Anybody ever heard of Sonny Boy Williamson?” just prior to Help Me. Morrison, quite unusually for him, played electric guitar throughout pretty much the whole of the rather short set, utilising an economical thumb-only strumming technique, his playing particularly effective during Enlightenment and the encore Gloria.
There were other bands we had hoped to see, such as Del Amitri, The McCluskey Brothers and the intriguingly named Humpff Family, but the weather had been so unrelentingly rotten we were both froze to the bone, so decided to head off early.
Van Morrison’s set-list
Why Must I Always Explain?
I’m Not Feeling It Anymore
See Me Through
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On/Blue Suede Shoes/Hound Dog
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Whenever God Shines His Light
Star of the County Down