It was 1989 and the venue was Derry’s Guildhall. The 4 Of Us was one of my early student day gigs. With my little brother in tow, I witnessed a developing Irish musical talent that was to span over the coming decades. Now in 2015, this talent is still growing.
The 4 Of Us came to the Nerve Centre in Derry last night and I was very fortunate to catch up with the boys prior to the gig. Declan and Brendan Murphy have remained constant in the music industry and although it might be 9 years since their last album, the boys have been busy. Their new album, Sugar Island, is due for release this coming September. If the music we heard played from it last night is anything to go by, this album will certainly be worth the 9 year wait!
I asked Brendan why The 4 Of Us have remained steadfast over the years. Brendan explained that he and Declan are the core of the band. He says that ‘there’s bands like Led Zeppelin, and you take the drummer away, there’s no band. We’re not like that. There’s me and Declan, and everything else changes a lot. The band really was just a vehicle for us to get our songs out there. We’re songwriters and that’s what we do best. So we’re still about!’
This tour he says is ‘to let people hear some songs from the new album and give people a taster of it. We thought the best way to advertise it would be to tour prior to the album release.’ One song from the forthcoming Album, Birds Eye View, has gone to radio now, so no doubt the nation will be hearing the boys over the airwaves with this new material over the coming days and weeks.
Brendan assures me that the new album is ‘energetic’ and although there is just the two of them on stage tonight, having stripped the band down to themselves and their acoustic guitars, the show will still have retained that energy from the bigger band.
A lot has changed in the music industry since the bands first album in 1989. ‘The internet has definitely changed everything in the past ten years but many people focus on the down side of this. I think the internet is great. You can make an album for next to nothing now. In the old days it cost you a fortune. Now we can get our music out there. If you’re truly creative you can make your own videos. The internet is certainly very crowded and people complain that it’s hard to get noticed. I find all the changes in the music industry very exciting. If you’re brilliant you’ll get noticed’, says Brendan.
On talking to both Declan and Brendan, the passion for their work shines through. They are clearly both very much married to the business, and their love of song writing is certainly at the fore. It isn’t every day that one meets such down to earth musical folk. But that’s exactly what these guys are. They’re two of the nicest, most sincere and genuine lads. And they clearly love all that they do.
And so it was time for the show. The audience had arrived and the ‘theatre show’ of The 4 Of Us got underway in style. Brendan and Declan immediately set into ‘She Hits Me’ and brought us all down memory lane. The audience were hooked and this continued over the following two hours. The first half of the show showcased much of the new music which is every bit as energetic and engaging as Brendan had told me. The second half brought us all to our feet with hits like ‘Drag My Bad Name Down’ and of course the legendary ‘Mary’. Brendan and Declan sang an amazing version of Carrickfergus’ and dedicated it to Gerry (Anderson). A very fitting tribute.
Throughout the night Brendan told numerous stories which had everyone in laughter and at all times, Declan continued strumming. This isn’t just a music show: there was banter, craic and at the heart of it, there was the music.
The audience last night could have gone to a number of free Jazz events in the city, but all choose to pay for this trip down memory lane and the beginning of new musical memories to come. The 4 Of Us gave us what we came for: a great night’s music and entertainment.
The Murphy brothers are extremely comfortable on that stage and I for one, hope it remains such for the next 25 years.
Sugar Island is due for release in September 2015.
(A selection of photos from the gig can be viewed on the facebook page North West Culture)