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Galway Independent


Memories of the showband era

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017 1:00am

Some of the greats from the showband years will return to Galway later this month for the hit show ‘Reeling in the Showband Years’, which will get 2017 off to a musical start.

The Ronan Collins Showband Show has been a hit for the past seven years, and it returns once again to The Town Hall Theatre, Galway on Wednesday 18 January.

“It was a complete sell out last year around the country and has been since we started this show in 2010,” says promoter Tommy Swarbrigg. Tommy was the trumpet player with Joe Dolan and The Drifters for many years before establishing his own band with his brother Jimmy. He toured with Jimmy until 1980, when he decided to step back from music and go into promoting gigs instead.

“I was asked many times to come back. I had been on the road for many years at the stage.” In 1975 and 1977, the Swarbriggs also represented Ireland in the Eurovision.

By 2010, he was 30 years off the road, but felt there was a need for a nostalgic showband show experience. “And we decided to be part of it. We sing in the show as well.”

Tommy loves the camaraderie from both promoting and being involved in the show, which has grown into a special experience for both the performers and the audience. “We do a meet and greet afterwards and people come and tell us stories about how they met their partner and what different songs mean to them. It’s great fun and we get to meet people who have been going to gigs for many years. It’s a very special tour.”

Those performing on the night in Galway include Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg, Red Hurley, Ronan Collins, Gina from The Champions, Gregory from The Cadets, Keith and Lorraine McDonald, and The Conquerors Showband.

“Red Hurley is a living legend of showbiz for over 40 years. He is still a major force in showbiz and it’s fantastic to have him in the show,” says Tommy. All the performers have songs synonymous with them and Red will be performing ‘How Great Thou Art’, a song that he made his own many years ago and sings as part of his own shows, along with other hits he’s had over the years.

“Not many people know how great a singing voice Ronan Collins has,” adds Tommy. “He was also a drummer in The Dickie Rock band before he went into radio.” Ronan will sing his renowned tributes to Joe Dolan and Dickie Rock and will also MC the evening’s show.

Gina from The Champions, regarded as one of the leading female voices in the showband era, will sing her hits and Tommy adds, “Gina is on the bill as we are simply responding to the numerous requests for her return!”

Gregory from The Cadets has been living in Canada for many years now and has had a great musical career there, Tommy explains. “This is his first visit to Ireland and he is delighted to be coming home for this tour. A great character, and a very funny man. His version of ‘The Laughing Policeman’ brings the house down. Also his smash hit ‘More Than Yesterday’ is played on radio all the time. A timeless classic!”

The brother and sister combination of Keith and Lorraine McDonald meanwhile come from one of the oldest musical families in Ireland.

Tommy is looking forward to taking to the stage too. He along with his brother Jimmy Swarbrigg will sing all their great hits, including ‘If Ma Could See Me Now’, ‘It’s Nice to be in Love Again’ and ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, their 1975 Eurovision song.

Also joining the line-up is The Conquerors Showband. “One of the greatest showbands of them all and still packing them in everywhere they go. The Galway boys will sing ‘Baby Blue’ and many more hits,” adds Tommy.

One of the highlights of the night is the finale. “This has people off their seats and singing along,” says Tommy, “as all the performers come out on stage and sing all the well-known songs from the showband era. It brings the audience right back and brings back great memories for people. It is a salute to the showband era.”

The ‘Reeling in the Showband Years’ Show comes to the Town Hall Theatre on Wednesday 18 January at 8pm. Tickets are €30 and will sell out fast. Call the Town Hall Theatre box office on 091-569777 or book online at

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