I arrived in Northern Ireland on Christmas Eve at about 7pm and just a few hours later I would be watching a multi-million album selling singing sensation live on stage. I can't really remember the last time that I went to a live music gig. Embarrassingly, I think it might have been Metallica in September 2008. That's a long time for a young, totally cool, young, hard-living, rock n' rollster like me to go without the adrenaline rush that my hard rock fix gives me. I more than made up for it on Christmas Eve though.
It was AMAZING. We listened to his CD in the car* to get us in the mood plus we had his new CD with us in the tiny hope that we might meet the great man himself and get him to sign it. An unlikely event, of course, but that did not dampen our happy, happy spirits. I mean, it's not every day that you go to St. Patrick's Catholic Church to witness a midnight gig by Father Martin O'Hagan.
Father Martin O'Hagan, as you know, is one of The Priests. Not one of the priests (thought he is obviously one of them too) but one of The Priests, the trio who have topped the American albums chart despite, and because of, being actual priests. They are very different to Metallica.
I haven't been to proper non-wedding/funeral church in years, my deep spiritual belief that God isn't real has kept me from going, but I made an exception this Christmas Eve because my Mum was singing in the choir. I am a lovely son, though one that, in my loving Mother's eyes, will burn for all eternity in the Lake of Damnation. To be back in St. Patrick's Church after, I think, 21 years is odd to say the least. It looks pretty much exactly the same. It's big, it's cold, it's quiet and it's pretty dull. That said, I wasn't being forced to go this time so I could at least enjoy mass knowing that I never ever ever have to come back.
For those who have never been to Catholic mass before let me explain what happens. A cold, grey man in a dress mumbles incoherently for an hour while everyone else in the building takes part in a coughing competition. That's pretty much it.
It has to be said though, Father Martin from the pop group The Priests did his best to liven things up. He joked! ("When Mary in the nativity said she had given birth to a baby I said "Great. Is it a boy or a girl?"") He sang! (Brilliantly it has to be said. A bit like Daniel O'Donnell but even more like Nick Cave) He begged us to give it some welly!
Catholics are very meek people (when sober) and they only go to church to sit in their own joyful misery and not have to get involved in anything other than the Mass responses that have been beaten into them since birth. I haven't been to Church for over two decades but I still remember every terrifying word of Mass. But that's not what Father Martin O'Hagan wants. He wants us to rejoice, praise loudly and sing, sing, SING! Everytime you sing a song, he said, you're praying to God twice. A theory that must piss off a lot of death metal bands.
But, of course, he could say all this until he's blue in the face (he did) and no-one would do anything more than shrug out their praise to their Almighty Saviour. Christmas gigs are tough, Father Martin.
Mind you, if he had sung my favourite hymn maybe I would have joined in a bit more. We were given a hymn book when we entered the Church and soon found a song inside called My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? Why we didn't sing this joyful tribute to Our Father I will never know. It's SO uplifting. Here are some of the real lyrics: "Dogs have surrounded me, howling/Criminal gangs approach and attack/My hands and my feet they are tearing/All of my bones can be easily seen".
Joyful and triumphant.
The next day, of course, was Boxing Day Eve and it was spent with family, eating and drinking and an hour on my own watching Doctor Who. What can I say about the penultimate Tennant/Davies episode? Well, how about "Thank fuck it's nearly over"? I obviously love the show despite all my complaints but I just don't even see what actually happened in last night's episode. What was the story? I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet (although Russell T. Davies obviously does) but there is either a lot going on or nothing going on and I just can't figure out which. The Master has the force now, The Doctor is bored out of his mind and The Time Lords are BACK! How did they come back? I mean, they're all dead, right? O ye of little faith. It's simple. The Time Lords come back by saying "We are the Time Lords and we are back". Makes total sense.
That said, if any of you slag it off I will punch you. I go to Church now. I know how to condemn old school.
*(I originally wrote "We listened to his CD in the cat" and deeply regret correcting myself)