1991 was the year that the Frames entered my life. I was 17 and obsessed with Irish music, going to gigs, buying records and taping any new song that Dave Fanning played on his 2FM radio show. I was in 5th year in school and became involved with the school magazine and decided I was going to interview Hothouse Flowers (who were my favourite band at that time) and also do some profiles of singers from up-and-coming Irish bands and that is how I met Glen.
My first sighting of the Frames was at the charity gig Rockophilia in the Olympia Theatre on March 16th, where they played alongside Lir, Nick Kelly (from The Fat Lady Sings) and Hothouse Flowers. It was Noreen O’Donnell their backing singer who caught my eye because she was full of wild energy and I loved their song The Dancer. The next day I heard them playing a few songs on a radio programme called The Sunday Roast and I was impressed. The following week I saw the end of their performance when they supported The Stunning. So from knowing nothing about the Frames, within a few weeks they seemed to be everywhere. A few days later I spotted Glen at a Power of Dreams gig in HMV record store and thought maybe he’d fill out a questionnaire for the magazine for me.
I wrote to Glen on 9th April, included the questionnaire, and told him how much I liked the Frames music and asking him was there any chance they would play a under 18s gig somewhere. Myself and my friends were all 16 or 17 at the time and it was always a worry that we would be stopped going into over 18s shows.
Anyway 2 days later Glen rang me at home and said that they would be playing Midnight at the Olympia the following week and their manager was putting me and a friend on the guest list because I was the first person to write to their fanclub. He was so lovely on the phone and said if I had any problems getting a taxi they would arrange one for me. To this day, I still remember the big smile on my face when I got off the phone! So myself and and my friend Andrea went to the gig, had a brilliant time and Glen even dedicated a song to me, unfortunately I can’t remember which one! After the gig we were taken backstage and Glen came over for a chat and invited us to his 21st party in the Waterfront pub two days later, saying it would be a great night because loads of bands would be playing. We really wanted to go but decided we would be too mortified to turn up!
After that gig we were committed Frameheads and went to see them as often as we could. We would bump into Glen occasionally around town, sometimes in HMV or in the Coffee Inn on Sth Anne Street which was a popular coffee shop for musicians. He’d always say hi and have a chat and was never standoffish or too busy to talk. One of the Frames highlights of 1991 for me was seeing them play live at Feile 91, which was a three day music festival in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. The Frames played early on the Sunday morning, maybe 2nd or 3rd band on and we were of course up the front dancing and singing. I had managed to blag a pass for the VIP Hospitality Tent from my friend but Andrea didnt have one, so after the Frames performance I went into the VIP area, spotted Glen and asked him for a lend of his one so that I could get Andrea in. Without blinking he said yeah no problem and handed me his VIP pass. He was such a sweetheart!
On 19th September 91, myself and Andrea got to go to the premiere of the Commitments in the Savoy Cinema in Dublin. It was a mostly invite-only affair, but a limited number of tickets went on sale for £5 each and my darling mother queued up and got tickets for me when I was at school. There was an amazing atmosphere at the film because all the stars were there, we were sitting in the front row and Bronagh Gallagher and Angeline Ball were sitting behind us. Everytime an actor appeared on the screen a big cheer would go up. At the end of the film, there was a standing ovation, and all the stars came down to the front of our row. It was very emotional, some of the stars were in tears, I think they were overwhelmed by the incredible reaction from the audience to the film.
The other highlight of the year was seeing a really intimate gig in a pub in Howth called the Waterside. It was a real oul lads pub, not your usual rock venue. We had seen The Frames the day before in HMV and Glen told us about the gig in Howth. The band had just recorded a demo of their songs in preparation for heading into the studio to record their debut album, and I asked Glen was there any chance I could have a copy and sure enough at the gig he gave me a cassette with their demo recordings. (The following songs were on it: Masquerade, Before You Go, Right Road (Wrong Road), 15 Seafort Parade, Nixxi Focal, You Were Wrong, The Waltz, Teardrops in my Wine, Telegraph Poles, Last Song to You, The Dancer and Martha). Nearly all of them made it onto their first album Another Love Song. To have a copy of the songs before the album was released was a huge thing because we were years away from the era of recording songs at gigs on your mobile phone and watching You Tube, then you just had to wait for the records to be released, (unless you happened to spot a bootleg cassette copy of a gig for sale on O’Connell Bridge)
So I started out 1991 with an obsession for Hothouse Flowers and ended it with a passion for the Frames. And my love of the Frames has survived all these years and they are still my favourite band. I am married now with three children, so the days of seeing the Frames every time they play a gig are long over but I always go see The Frames (or the Swell Season in recent years) when they play Dublin and a huge treat this year was getting to see the Swell Season when they played The Royal Festival Hall in London in October.
I haven’t seen Glen in about 15 years, as the band got bigger the opportunity to just bump into him became less. The last time I remember talking to him was in 1995 and he was as sound as ever, asking how I was, what I was up to. I’d love to chat to him again, I don’t know if he’d remember me after all these years, but from seeing him being interviewed he still comes across as being a complete gentleman, and as far as I can see fame and an Oscar and having thousands of fans has not affected him negatively in any way.