Dublin, Ireland

National Stadium - May 13, 1981

By Wayne Francis

In May of 1981, Lightfoot set off for a seven city tour through the British Isles.  It was a volatile time in Britain, and particularily in Ireland where the tour began.  On May 13, Lightfoot landed in Dublin and played the opening show of the tour there that same night in the National Stadium.  The atmosphere was electric!  Lightfoot came on stage to begin the show to thundering applause.  He was well aware of the significance of the time and place and after his third song he told the crowd:

"As events unfold we shall continue to carry on here.  We're, you know, fully aware of all of the stuff - we heard about the pope.  But this is another story, again, which complicates things even more.  Sort of casts a pall of gloom.  Let's hope that the poor gentleman survives."

His brief statement is greeted by overwhelming applause.  In spite of the situation, Lightfoot appears to be very loose and even pulls out the old "let me introduce the band" routine, where the band meet at centre stage and pretend to introduce themselves to each other.  The crowd loves it!

Later in the second half, when introducing the then unrecorded, Heaven Help The Devil, Lightfoot tells the hushed crowd:

"... A sociological type of song that can relate to just about anything in the world today and those of us who are peace loving people can understand this.  I was talking to Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran, and I said, 'Would you ever go back to Iran,' he said, 'Not even for dinner!' and I wrote this song just after the hostages got back, but it relates to everything.  I mean, sometimes you wonder what is going on in the world, you know and it seems to be almost too much to bear all at once. So we'll do this one for you, it's called Heaven Help The Devil and you'll see what I mean when we do this song.  It means, heaven help the son of a bitch!"

Laughter erupts and he plays the song, followed by a huge ovation when it is finished.  After the Trilogy he returned to the stage for an encore and before playing it, he once again feels compelled to talk to the crowd in light of the gravity of the occasion:

"Do you remember the old skylight?  We played here a couple of times, I think, before.  I just want to thank the people from WEA, that's our record company.  A lot of them are here tonight, so we welcome them and everybody else.  (Applause)  We hope, all of us, that everything pans out for the better and everything works out okay for you, because some of the stories we hear outside of here are really grotesque.  (Applause)  People talking about things and nobody knows about the historical or the political or the religious or what it is, I don't know, but I hope it all works out for you, because it looks bleak."

At the show's end, Lightfoot is engulfed in another thunderous ovation as he leaves.

The next night in Belfast, the tour continues.  It was described in MacLean's magazine like this:

"The 2,000 Catholics and Protestants who packed Belfast's Grosvenor Hall to hear singer Gordon Lightfoot were told bluntly that they couldn't leave once they entered - for fear of someone planting a bomb.  But the captive audience shook the hall with foot-stomping delight when Lightfoot called for peace in the city and vowed to sing on while just two kilometres away riots were breaking out for the second night in a row following the death of IRA hunger striker Francis Hughes."

It was probably, without doubt, some of the most surreal circumstances Lightfoot has ever played under, but he certainly came through in classic style!