Feargal Sharkey Newcastle City Hall 9th February 1986

Feargal Sharkey Newcastle City Hall 9th February 1986
feargaltixIn 1982 Feargal was becoming tired of fronting Irish new wave post-punk posters The Undertones. So it was no more boy next door image, off with the pullover and jeans, and on with a trendy Armani suit, a Swatch watch (see later) and styled quiffed hair. Ad hey presto young Feargal was a fledgling pop star. And pop star indeed he was. Feargal’s debut single was “Listen to Your Father” which reached No. 23 in the UK chart in 1984. The track was a collaboration with members of Madness and he performed it on Top of the Pops with members of the nutty boy band. But his biggest hit came the following year when “A Good Heart” went to No. 1 in several countries including the UK. He also had a UK Top 5 hit in 1986 with “You Little Thief”, which was out at the time I saw him on tour. His debut album reached No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart.
I saw Feargal Sharkey at Newcastle City Hall in 1986. This was his Swatch tour, and an early example of tour branding and marketing tie-ins. The back cover of the programme declares “Feargal Sharkey Swatch tour. Music by Feargal. Time by Swatch”, alongside a picture of our cool hero sporting trendy shades and, of course, a neat black Swatch.
feargalFrom the programme: “At first I didn’t feel it. I just sang. The difference later on was that I learned more about life. I now plough past experiences for songs, especially on my album where the songs are all bitter sweet. I’m now more of a manic singer than ever before. ……Feargal belongs on stage in front of an audience…..Ladies and gentlemen, Feargal Sharkey. The waiting is over”
The concert was good fun and focused on Feargal’s hits and debut solo album, along with some great covers including “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “It’s all Over Now”. He had quite a large band with a couple of backing singers and a small brass section. His mate and local north east hero Dave Stewart came on for the encore, very much the swaggering rock star. Support came from Fruits of Passion, a Scottish indie band.
The next time I saw Feargal Sharkey he walked past me, as he was wandering around the area in front of the stage at Live 8 in Hyde Park. By then he was very much the suited business man, and chair of the UK Government task force the ‘Live Music Forum’. In 2009 he was placed No. 56 in The Guardian’s MediaGuardian 100, which is an annual guide to the “most powerful people in television, radio, newspapers, magazines, digital media, media business, advertising, marketing and PR”. The boy from Derry has travelled a long way.

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