By Rob Allanson

Editor's Word

Sometimes life takes funny turns, things that exist in your past reappear in your present like old pennies; the ghosts of memories suddenly take stark sharp focus in your conscience taking you back to long forgotten moments.

I recently had one of these events; not totally random as I knew our paths were going to cross, but the effect was incredible.

To cut a long ramble into a somewhat shorter one, I lived in Glasgow for a while when I was at university and met a small group of Northern Irish musicians, including Iain and Paul Archer. We played and sang together as musos do, but then life intervened with earth shattering effect and we lost touch. This was more than 10 years ago. A wealth of experiences has passed in the mean time, making the measure of us as people; shaping and molding our lives.

There never really seemed to be a point when we could get back in touch; the occasional email, a meeting on social media; but nothing really of any worth, the connection had been lost.

This was until the Bushmills Live event. I knew that Iain was playing so it would be the first crossing from my past life into my professional one; what I was not really ready for was running into Paul and a couple of old friends as well. Funny how life goes. Whisky and music may go hand in hand, but when you are standing there watching three old friends perform together in such an intimate space it transforms into something else; the very essence of the craic if you like.

There is a 1.36 minute video of this coming together during Iain’s song Everest on Youtube. Obviously you are watching it in isolation, but for those of us that stood there immersed in the sound, feeling the music ebb and flow, building to something, this was a heartstring pulling, soul searing moment of Northern Irish musical history. Go and find it, and I defy you to be unmoved by the simple emotion and joy of three friends performing together for the first time in a long while.

Actually it was the only time I have not envied the Snow Patrol boys. The depth and wealth of talent during the day, featuring some stunning performers from Ireland, the UK and America, certainly was going to be a hard act to follow.

The bar for the day was set by the soulful Foy Vance, a performance that rollercoastered its way through your emotions. But I have to say that Iain’s set (following the excellent singer songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich) took the bar, snapped it and set fire to it; how that voice emerges from him I have no idea, but it is captivating and enchanting.

Snow Patrol, performing acoustically, rounded the night off perfectly. The sparse musical setting of some of their most well know tunes allowed the often simple, well crafted and lump-in-throat-inducing lyrics delivered by Mr Lightbody to really hit home, at times reducing grown men in the audience to near tears; me included.

A big whiskey was more than welcome at the end of this to steady the nerves, toast the past and the crossing of paths with old friends. Everest indeed.