Ronan gives it a lash!
One Corkman has managed to capture the zeitgeist with stunning foresight and timed his far post run to perfection. Ronan Leonard this week brings a comedy show to the Cork Midsummer Fest that captures his love of old Irish football songs in his own unique style. He tells Brian Hayes Curtin of his memories of Italia ’90 (overdosing on Coke, the liquid kind) and the important musical discoveries he has made in the course of his research
At the moment Euro 2012 fever is raging throughout Cork although it may be tempered somewhat should Ireland fail to progress further. One thing that comes with the joy of Ireland making it to a major international football tournament is the replaying of some truly awful football songs and a host of classics (‘The Game’, ‘Put ‘em Under Pressure’ and ‘Give It A Lash Jack’).
One Corkman must have known that Ireland was going to qualify for Euro 2012 as he has written a comic one man show about his love of classic Irish football songs. Comedian, musician, raconteur and general man about Cork Ronan Leonard is performing ‘Adventures of a Music Nerd: 1 Guy, 2 World Cups’ as Euro 2012 draws to a close.
First performed last summer as part of the Solstice during the Cork Midsummer Festival, it’s a comic tale of one man’s love for and relationship with some classic football songs from Italia ‘90 and USA ’94. In fairness, his timing couldn’t be better!
So what exactly is the show about? “I take 10 or so songs from Italia ‘90 and USA ‘94 and by deconstructing them and then reconstruing them (I had to make up that word to explain what I do!), I make people laugh. This is not a show about soccer, but rather I use those songs as a foundation,” he says.
“It's about how I remember Ireland in 1990 - when I was ten - when suddenly everyone loved one thing and that was the Irish soccer team; knowing no better, I genuinely thought we were gonna win the World Cup. I thought we did after the penalty shoot out to be honest.
“That day was like the whole country was a free gaff! Children had the most Coke and crisps ever and the grown ups, well, we all know that the birthrate nine months later skyrocketed. Let's leave it at that!”
Ronan also looks at how things changed in 1994 and then looks back on those memories with the wisdom of his 2012 self.
He got the idea for the show when he was preparing a megamix of Italia 90 songs for his 30th birthday and found a total of 27 songs between ‘90 and ’94. “I listened to them over and over on my iPod and some ideas started forming, sometimes terrible lyrics stood out, sometimes just silly ideas popped up,” he says.
“It's an unorthodox idea, but one that has proved to be quite accessible,” he feels.
The Bishopstown man is not a huge fan of the charity Jedward effort, ‘Put Your Green Cape On’.
“Just like the official songs of 1994 and 2002, it suffers because it is preconceived and written by committee,” he says.
“The songs of Italia ‘90 were a perfect storm. In my show I point out that we had confusion over which trophy we were trying to win; who actually played for Ireland; and a bizarre tendency to mention the journalists covering the team whereas this year, it's so ‘meh’ and safe.
“But my two year old son loves dancing to it so I like it; he is too young to yet learn the jaded dull pain of supporting Ireland,” he laughs.
On ‘The Rocky Road to Poland’ he reckons it's “grand and sure the money goes to charity, but has it given anyone a real thrill when they heard it”? “And it just follows the exact template as Larry Mullen's one in 1990 down to the token Gaeilge, hammering in the chorus of another song and fecking uilleann pipes. And surely we could have brought Andy Reid in to play guitar on the track at least!”
In the course of his explorations into the murky world of Irish football facts, he discovered a host of fascinating factoids. Among the best are that while Paul McGrath is one of the best footballers ever, he was a horrific rapper, that Ireland seemingly only had one keyboard in the late ‘80s since the same sounds appear on loads of songs and he uncovered proof that U2 would have been even better if Larry Mullen was in charge of their songwriting as opposed to Bono and The Edge!
He also scientifically proves Tony Cascarino will become a manager of the Irish team! See him do just that.
Ronan Leonard brings his ‘Adventures of a Music Nerd: 1 Guy, 2 World Cups’ to the Crane Lane Theatre from Friday 22 June to Saturday 30 June at 6pm excluding Monday 25. Tickets are €15, €12 concession. See www.corkmidsummer.com for details.