The Members' Blog
Rainbows Over Belfast by Brigid Gallagher
“To watch us dance is to hear our heart speak”
Hopi Indian saying
I am standing in front of the mirror in my bedroom at The Europa Hotel, applying a sparkly aubergine eye shadow, similar to Biba’s Metallic Grandma of my youth. My coral lip gloss matches my cheesecloth top. I layer up with my cool dude black leather jacket and finish the look with a scarf in shades of pink, coral and turquoise.
Showers are forecast, so I put my new maroon coloured mac in my handbag, just in case. There is now no room for my camera. I will live to regret this!
The evening is mellower now after the afternoon’s downpours, as I walk towards Custom House Square, the venue for The Voice of Sir Tom Jones, legendary singer and sex bomb, ably supported by Belfast’s own Brian Kennedy. I am already excited at the prospect of dancing outdoors among legions of loyal fans, many of them a certain age like myself.
Tickets state that the gates open at 6pm, so I decide seven is a good time to arrive. My intuition serves me well, as I enter a small queue and await a handbag search by an efficient female PSNI officer. I continue past a series of white tents into a delightful square flanked by modern flats and the elegant neoclassical architecture of The Custom House.
A small row of dedicated fans have already gathered in front of the stage, clinging to silver metallic barriers for dear life. I’m hoping to find a space along the railing, but no such joy.
I stand behind two elderly ladies, one blonde and dressed in white, the other a brunette with a stay-away aura. They’re not for shifting. Neither is the girl to my right with titian hair and matching lips and eyeshadow on pale skin that makes her look like Morticia from The Adams Family. She too demonstrates dogged determination as she extends her elbows as wide as possible across the barrier, resting her limp head atop the cool metal. Her boyfriend stands close by in loving admiration, despite his partner’s space cadet demeanour; it must be love!
I attend to my own unloving thoughts, sending out a sea of pink light to my stoic companions.
The stage lights encircle Brian Kennedy, as he steps onto the stage dressed in formal black. A smiling, attractive blonde lady dressed in white stands beside me; she grabs my left arm as Brian belts out “You Raise Me Up.”
He continues to warm the cockles of our hearts wiggling his cute, shapely behind to a series of tunes, before leaving the stage to loud applause.
Seconds later, a series of efficient roadies dressed in sombre shades of black, grey and olive clear the stage for Sir Tom, before tuning guitars, taping song order sheets to the floor and laying out six cool glasses of water for our septuagenarian hero.
The two ladies in front, precision apply shades of pink and red to their lips without the aid of a mirror. A pale grey mist of dry ice clouds covers the stage as Tom emerges to rapturous applause. He is dressed in dark grey from head to toe, topped by a silver beard and cropped curls, a more sophisticated look than his dyed days of the past. He now looks classy, mature and perhaps wise.
My new friend in white grabs my arm again as we dance joyfully to a series of hits including my favourite “Mamma Told Me Not To Come.” A young girl behind me captures the moment for posterity on her i Phone. Tom is perhaps 10 feet away and I miss my camera. He is radiating pure gold now as he gets into the groove of his spiritual destiny – to heal with his golden voice. He is embraced by a rainbow of stage lights above – magenta, crimson, green and pink – dancing to the words of each song.
“The Green, Green, Grass of Home” brings more applause from his emerald audience as silver droplets of rain begin to fall. My maroon mac comes out of its pocket, as others don see through ponchos in olive green emblazoned with JAMESON or clear white models inscribed with ABSOLUT.
Three young girls behind me bring out a brown, ribbed cardboard banner with WE LOVE YOU TOM! on one side and CAN WE COME BACKSTAGE? IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! on the other.
Sensible women turn to folly, as knickers in every colour of the rainbow are launched towards the stage in the hope of catching their hero’s attention. Tom doesn’t blink an eyelid as lace “sex bombs” continue to ricochet in shades of cerise, turquoise and red. I move sideways , making way for more lady “soldiers” to catch a better aim.
He removes his jacket and sings “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” donning a silver silk scarf in the process, to match his grey ensemble, before waving his hips in his own charismatic way, while each word is sung tongue in cheek, with that inimitable twinkle in his eye.
Sadly, the performance ends, and although every muscle and joint in my body aches as I hobble back to my cosy hotel room, I am floating on an orange cloud of joy.
Dear reader, you may now wonder why my body was aching: you will find your answers if you read the remainder of my memoir!
I will though enlighten you over my fascination for colour.
I sense rainbows around everything, for I have been blessed with the gift of clairvoyance or clear seeing.
“Rainbows Over Belfast” is the prologue of my memoir “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow” available from all good online bookstores.
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