A House

DAVE COUSE, A HOUSE AND THE POINT OF EVERYTHING

Irish Times

I’m regularly struck jealous by the capacity of some of my colleagues, friends and peers to devour so much material so quickly and to be so consistently boned up on the latest albums, books, on-line posts, international drama serials and edgy films. I honestly couldn’t tell you where my own time goes, by comparison.

It might be that I’m just a slow reader who wades through far too much of what some now refer to as older, traditional media, when my days might be better spent hoovering up bite-sized cuts, hot takes and ignoring my children instead ? Or perhaps I need to be far less obsessive about the things I like and spread my wings further but less diligently ? But it’s easy, eitherway, to be over-whelmed by the noise levels on the super-highway.

And so I’m always grateful for the good advices of those trusted correspondents who, when they feel my focus isn’t what it might be, point me in the direction of key peaks on the mountain of output I’m missing on a daily basis.

‘You’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV’, claimed the would-be big shot, Suzanne Stone Maretto, brilliantly played by Nicole Kidman, in Gus Van Sant’s 1995 film, ‘To Die For’. ‘On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody’s watching ?’. I’m not sure if ‘To Die For’ always gets the credit it deserves but it’s long been a favourite film of mine and, as someone who’s spent a lifetime working in television, I have real difficulty defining the fiction from the reality in some of its key scenes.

Ostensibly a morality tale about society’s obsession with celebrity and the stupidity that often under-pins it, the film has already gone full circle to the point where it’s long since lapped itself dizzy. Almost twenty five years after it was premiered, and despite the absolute fracture of all media in the decades since, ‘To Die For’ looks more and more prescient by the week. Kidman’s wildly ambitious weather-woman, with her front leg on the lower rungs at a small, local television station might, in 2019, be an Instagram sensation or ‘influencer’ but the core message is as was.

I think of ‘To Die For’ and that incessant struggle to be heard from miles across the valley whenever I’m recommended – and inevitably frustrated by – another lackluster podcast that promises rabbits from hats and delivers aural myxomatosis instead. Our regular readers will know exactly what I mean ;- no doubt well-meaning and often full-bodied social broadcasts that often just add crudely-formed, half-baked opinions to the unsustainable levels of global clutter already out there. [I appreciate, of course, that a similar charge can be levelled at this site].

The journalist Michael O’Toole once memorably described Twitter – on Twitter – as a place where ‘every expert is a clown and every clown is an expert’. It doesn’t always follow, I guess, that just because you have a smart phone, you have anything smart to impart. But we continue to confront the mountain because of the enduring promise of a decent view of the sunrise. And, from time to time, my head will be turned and my ears pricked, as they were by a recent exchange conducted by The Point Of Everything blog and podcast with Dave Couse, the formidable singer and frontman with a revered but long-lost Dublin band, A House. An iteration of which performed live for the first time in over 22 years at the National Concert Hall last weekend.

By the end of its 38 minutes, TPOE’s host, Eoghan O’Sullivan – who I don’t know – has clearly touched a couple of his subject’s nerves, pulling reams of colour and insight from him by simply asking pertinent questions and allowing Couse the space to reflect before responding. Redolent of those long Fanning Show interviews where the guest’s seat in the small radio studio in RTE Radio 2 often became a psychiatrist’s couch – and current, high-profile new media versions like Dion Fanning’s ‘Ireland Unfiltered’ or Jarlath Regan’s ‘An Irishman Abroad’ – this too takes its time to get going and eventually just soars. Its easily one of the more compelling Couse interviews I’ve heard over the last thirty years and, for my troubles, I’ve heard many.

I’m conflicted on a number of levels here, though. First of all, The Point Of Everything is kind and generous enough at the top of the podcast to reference The Blackpool Sentinel as he sets up the context for the interview. Secondly, regular readers will be aware of how dominant the shadow of A House is on much of the ground we attempt to cover here and the respect with which we hold both the band and its frontman. And I’m especially minded, by even thinking as much, of another popular social media affliction ;- the hollow chorus of the echo chamber where you stroke my back and I’ll re-tweet you long and hard in return.

I need to be careful too not to patronize. I’m at an age now where its easy to sound like those labored sports pundits who go on at length about the majesty of sport in the 1980s, often at the expense of the magic flying around their ears in 2019. The good old days, as we all know, weren’t always necessarily as good as we’d like to think.

But all of that apart, to anyone with even the most passing interest in alternative music in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s, it’s worth parsing TPOE’s exchange with Couse on several levels. On a canvas where speed and opinion regularly trump clarity and consideration, it’s interesting to hear what falls out when the emphasis stays slow and the lights stay low.

And so we’ve re-posted the podcast with permission here, in which the host stays consistently on the right side of the mic and allows Couse the floor. It’s an ancient and reliable way of working, simple enough to get right and easier again to get completely arseways.

I haven’t seen or spoken to Couse in decades but he’s long been an engaging and often uncompromising interviewee that, by the sounds of it, hasn’t been dimmed by either the passing of time or his re-location up the country. The longer this conversation goes on, the more swear words he uses, not for dramatic effect or because he has little else to defer to but because, as with all of the best exchanges, he grows more and more into it as it rolls. And as the interview draws to a close, he sounds as cosy, comfortable and, I think, genuinely grateful as he gets.

On the end of a telephone line from his home in County Cavan, Couse is as cranky, smart and bellicose as I recall him from way back. I’m not going to blow the podcast’s cover and go into the guts of it in any great detail here but, when he refers to his age – he’s 55 now – the implication is obvious enough. Like all of the great entertainers, he’s old enough and talented enough to be as contrary and confrontational as he wants or needs to be.

At the outset the interviewer admits that he’s a generation removed from Couse, A House and the Dublin indie scene of the 1980s from which they emerged and that, ergo, his acquired knowledge of that period might not be what it should be. It’s an honourable and bold concession and a welcome respite from another chronic podcast ailment, especially those that are author-led :- knowallism. Ultimately, it just helps to frame and scaffold the following thirty odd minutes, parts of which sound like a social history tutorial.

When it comes to de-constructing the unprecedented and scarcely believable years from 1985 to 1997, during which Dublin was routinely bannered as ‘the city of a thousand rock bands’, few Irish musicians can sieve it out better than Couse. Six albums on three different labels, two droppings and a stubborn streak that feral teenagers only dream about, A House were the prolific guitar band whose work-rate was matched only by their capacity to shoot themselves in the groin with staple-guns. And even when the good times briefly rolled, there was always another calamity – often self-inflicted – waiting to further derail them and, ultimately, to embitter them further. Indeed one of the recurring themes across the band’s wide catalogue is how easily defeat can be clutched from the jaws of victory.

The Point Of Everything, by his own admission, was born long after A House first took the stage in The Underground Bar on Dublin’s Dame Street during the mid-80s. But Couse is only too happy to talk him through much of the insanity of that period – or, as he’d probably say himself, put him right – even if there’s a real sense of resignation about how he now views his lot. Perhaps he’s right when he says that we may never see or hear its likes again ?

He’s also strong and typically unsentimental about the original A House line-up, laying to rest any lingering sense that the band was anything other than himself and guitarist Fergal Bunbury at its heart and that all and any others who joined the line-up over the years were never more than the sum of their parts. Which may come as a surprise to a couple of notable players among the band’s number who soldiered long and far with them on-stage and off from the get-go. Or maybe not ?

But Couse opens new frontiers when he refers to the economic reality he faced during the twelve years he fronted A House and, more starkly, once the band tired of beating its head off of concrete after the release of its sixth album, ‘No More Apologies’, in 1996. Penniless in their early 30s, there’s something especially grim in such a reveal, even if the image of the struggling artist in penury, railing against the dying of the light, is an old and familiar one. Preferring to deal with the topic through the front door and without the use of code – irreconcilable musical differences was never going to sit well with Couse anyway – I’m not sure I’ve heard an Irish writer of that caliber refer to brutal economics and the break-up of a band with such honesty.

Last week’s live show by Couse, Bunbury and a cast of guest musicians – including, at one point, their daughters – was the culmination of a broader campaign, led by Gary Sheehan, IMRO and The National Concert Hall, to recognise ‘I Am The Greatest’, arguably A House’s best known album, for its enduring excellence. Even if, to these ears, all of the band’s long-players could have sated the basic qualification criteria.

But beyond bringing half of the original A House line-up back onto the same stage at the same time, the last number of weeks have also served to further remind us of just how captivating a performer Couse can be. In a radio interview with Tom Dunne on Newstalk to promote the NCH show, he admitted that he’s still writing songs and, reading between the lines, there’s almost certainly another live show or two in this. Beyond that, who knows ? He tells TPOE that he’d love to play in Cork, for instance, and refers to Microdisney who, this time last year, played the same venue under many of the same conditions.

I wondered, after I saw A House play their last show at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre in February, 1997, if we’d ever see another local band like them again and, in the decades since, I’m not convinced that we have. And clearly, neither does Couse. So, unfinished business, unfinished dreaming or both ?

A HOUSE :- LOCAL HOUSING AUTHORITY

There were a few of them, back in the dark ages, that you’d think twice about looking crooked at. Declan Jones from Blue In Heaven, all seven foot odd of him in his leather keks and his Chelsea boots, was one. Half of Whipping Boy, a couple of The Gorehounds, Dave Lavelle from The Honey Thieves. And maybe the gruffest of all of them, Dave Couse of A House, who’d skewer you with a look or a one-liner if you tried to blackguard him. Or even if you didn’t.

The first time I met Couse in person was on the concourse at Kent Station in Cork as he’d stepped off of an incoming train from Dublin. ‘So’, he asks. ‘What have you done for A House today ?’. He was never one who hung around to get his eye in.

And in truth, I’d done little for A House that day and I’d done little most other days too for the band that Couse formed with Fergal Bunbury, Martin Healy and Dermot Wylie in West Dublin in the early 1980s. But  then they never struck me as either needing support or actively seeking assistance ;- from a remove, they looked like one of the most self-sufficient, durable and intense bands in the country and, to that end, were probably best left alone. And anyway, there were others, mostly on my own door-step in Cork, who were far more deserving of my first aid or, as history might record it, the hemlock kiss.

Maybe, alighted from a train ride from Dublin to Cork, Couse was just hungry and cranky ;- as one of those who regularly experienced the inter-city dining options during the 1980s and 1990s, its easy to appreciate how that may have been the case. Eitherway, once I’d fed and watered him, and after we’d completed a spiky exchange for an RTÉ youth television strand called ‘Scratch Saturday’, he certainly softened up a bit and I saw a hint of light beyond the blanket.

Over several subsequent years, I had a decent sideline view of A House while I worked with Keith Cullen at Setanta Records and, for a time, was close enough to see the meat on the bone. I never knew them particularly well  – nor they I – to go anywhere deeper than a clean cut on the finger but I was still privy enough to see just how driven and determined they were on so many levels. They rarely let up or let go and Couse was at the heart of it all, setting the tempo, consistency in a world slowly gazing at its shoes.

In his pomp he was a restless and forceful writer who saw merit in the malevolent vignette. Fronting a group whose considerable achievement  was often taken for granted and who were never entirely a common currency, one aspect often fuelled the other. A House, like many others before them and after them, were at their best when Couse was at his most tart. They consistently demanded the final word and, with Couse on the mic, it was often a bitter one ;- when the good times came, they were forever fleeting.

A House issued five studio albums for three different labels, most of which are among the finest Irish releases of their generation and, all things considered, the band endured for far longer than many of its peers. But their recorded output apart, it was the line they walked – and often deliberately played with – between charm, arrogance, resilience and bloody-mindedness that tended to define them.

In as much as the parameters of their original, four-square guitar-fused  line-up would allow, A House were as unique as any and better than most. And later, after they re-shuffled their pack in the aftermath of their second album – after which they were promptly dropped by their label – bolstering their line-up and adding finesse and steel in equal part, they refined their game and went for it again, baldly. But in both their iterations they were as difficult to pin down as their cover was difficult to penetrate ;- in an Irish context, the biggest issue many seemed to have with A House was that they weren’t Something Happens, with whom they were long associated and with whom they were consistently locked in a competitive, often truculent side-show.

Tony O’Donoghue, now RTÉ’s football correspondent, once pounded the  footpaths around Cork city to the point of fracture. In the days before mobile phones, you could always locate him if you wandered Patrick Street long enough and, in his leather jacket and pointy suedes, he certainly looked the part of a hip, young gunslinger. In the best and worst traditions of the freelancing hack, he held down a slew of wide-ranging jobs, one of the most interesting of which was a short, weekly slot on Cork Local Radio, where he’d play snippets of a couple of new releases, draw our attention to upcoming concerts and live events around town and jolt the RTÉ sound recordists from their torpor, however briefly.

As a clueless fresher still navigating his way around most things, I’d often still be at home during lunchtimes and would regularly catch Tony’s finely-tuned political broadcasts on behalf of quality independent Irish music. During a period in which emerging, indigenous rock music was in rude good health, and when the standard of its recorded output was mirrored by the development of a regular, sustainable national live circuit, Tony was rarely short of decent material. Broadcasting in short form long before the term was hi-jacked by digital marketing consultants and social media influencers, and while the regions were often starved of relevant music media, his weekly sermons cherried the cake for many of us, putting a partisan frosting on the national proselytising of the likes of Dave Fanning’s Rock Show on Radio 2FM.

And it was during one of Tony’s local homilies in 1987 that I heard the first shimmer of ‘Snowball Down’, A House’s second single and, for me, one of the most pressing, urgent cuts in the history of Irish alternative music. Produced by Chris O’Brien and released on the band’s own, self-funded imprint, RIP Records, it clocked in at just over 150 seconds, with its shades of The Bunnymen, The Blue Aeroplanes and some of the more subtle aspects – prominent, nimble bass, prominent acoustic strum – of the paisley underground. As opening statements go, both ‘Snowball Down’ and the band’s debut issue that preceded it months earlier, ‘Kick Me Again, Jesus’, punched far beyond the national qualifying standard.

To a handful of local anoraks, hangers-on and indie spotters, though, this was just another rung on a curve steeping progressively upwards.

The Underground Bar on Dublin’s Dame Street was a much-loved dive and, for a number of years, a small and important cog in the local machine, very strictly off-Broadway. [The site on which it stood is now occupied by a racy shop called ‘Condom Power’, an irony not lost on former regulars who fondly remember the old bar’s sardonic drayman, Big Johnny]. Run by Jeff Brennan and his father, Noel, the downstairs parlour was where, to my mind, the first and last great domestic music movement really took root hosting, as it did, frenetic and often chaotic early shows by the likes of Rex And Dino, Something Happens, The Stars of Heaven, Power Of Dreams, The Slowest Clock, [Backwards] Into Paradise, Whipping Boy, The Dixons and A House themselves.

The careless spirit of that period and the claustrophobic aspect of the tiny venue is captured naked on a short, six-song album, ‘Live At The  Underground’, that was recorded there over two nights in 1985 and issued by Jeff on his own, one-off label, ‘Fear And Loathing Records’. Four years earlier, Elvera Butler’s ‘Kaught At The Kampus’ also cuffed six live tracks onto tape during shows recorded at the famed, UCC-hosted shows at The Arcadia Ballroom in Cork and, even if neither album was ever intended to trouble the chart compilers, both records served real purpose nonetheless. Over thirty years later, what were clearly just calling cards for two highly-regarded live venues have become, absolutely by default, curios that capture some of the more unique sights, sounds and perhaps even smells of the time, for posterity.

a house setlist

Setlist Limelight Belfast, 1993 / 1994.  © Gary White

And A House are there on ‘Live At The Underground’, callow but recognisable, alongside The Stars Of Heaven, Something Happens and Hughie Purcell – contributing the shambling ‘On Your Bike, Wench, And Let’s Have The Back Of You’ to the party, before quickly moving on.

Indeed the band’s re-birth on the Setanta label between 1990 and 1992, during which they recorded and released the bridging [and aptly-titled, in my view] ‘Doodle’ EP and then the magnificent ‘I Am The Greatest’, is worth a long read in its own right. For a band down on it’s luck and back on the labour, the title of that record reflects A House’s constant, inerrant belief in it’s own ability. But then all five of their album titles can be read as sarcastic, sly references to the way the band saw itself, and especially it’s evolving relationship – good, mixed and mostly bad – with the music industry. From the shadowy optimism of the debut on a major label, ‘On Our Big Fat Merry Go-Round’ to the damning reality of a slow degeneration on it’s stubborn follow-up, ‘I Want Too Much’ through the life-affirming ‘I Am The Greatest’, the return to a major ‘Wide Eyed And Ignorant’ and the closing, sardonic chapter, ‘No More Apologies’, these were clear, political punch-lines that mashed a snotty face on the bay window of the industry that begot them. ‘The music business ?’, A House might have mused, summoning another doleful street philosopher, Norm Peterson . ‘Can’t live with it. Pass the beer-nuts’.

The band played it’s last ever show on February 28th, 1997, in Dublin’s  Olympia Theatre, a stone’s throw from The Underground Bar, aloof and diffident to the end. But although A House boasted a noisy and loyal support base all around the country, I long suspected they were far more comfortable outside of Ireland where, arguably, they were more critically valued and where they consistently had one up on Something Happens. But they were also clued in enough to know when to call time and, when the curtain fell, it was on the band’s own terms :- they scripted their own funeral in detail and organised the buffet afterwards.

In 2002, five years after A House packed up their tent, ‘Here Come The Good Times’, by a distance the band’s most contagious pop song, was selected as Ireland’s official World Cup anthem as the country’s international football team headed off to compete in that summer’s competition in Japan and Korea. Its beefed-up glam rock production and shiny pop veneer notwithstanding, the song is actually about a lifetime of personal disappointment [where good times occur ‘for a change’]  and, in hindsight, seemed like a perfectly prescient selection, given how Ireland’s World Cup campaign unfolded.

Remembered less for the team’s unfortunate and maybe unlucky exit from the tournament and far more for Roy Keane’s strop, after which he tore out of the team’s training camp on the island of Saipan and returned home, it was appropriate that the ghosts of A House were on hand to faithfully soundtrack the misfortunes of a nation.

Eight years and two World Cups previously, Parlophone Records, their second major label, had failed to crack ‘Here Come The Good Times’ into the mainstream. This achievement was at once so scarcely unbelievable and yet perfectly in keeping with the band’s long experiences in the middle ground ;- the writing was on the wall for that relationship and, one suspects, A House itself, thereafter.

A salvo from that stomping pop song had also featured briefly as part of a spectacular opening montage shot around Ireland for the opening of the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by Mary Kennedy and broadcast live from The Point Depot in Dublin. And however fleetingly, it seemed as if A House had finally recovered some of the face they’d lost when Gay Byrne patronised them to within inches of their lives as he introduced them on The Late Late Show before they performed their excellent ‘I’ll Always Be Grateful’ single back on the floor of Studio One on October 14th, 1988.

The last time I saw Dave Couse was from a distance after a Frank And Walters show in Dublin city many years ago. I hear him, from time to time, on his infrequent radio show where, from his song selections alone, I suspect he still holds many of those same beliefs he did when, a quarter of a century ago, we first locked horns in Cork. His band remain one of the real enigmas – and genuine successes – of contemporary Irish rock music and while, in the twenty years since that last curtain call, you’d expect all parties to have moved on, you’d suspect that no one felt the band’s lack of a broader breakthrough more keenly than Couse himself.

And whenever I hear him on the radio now – and he’s still as captivatingas he’s ever been – it just hardens my view that all disc jockeys, like television producers and music writers – are, at heart, just frustrated musicians who, because of events and an absence of good fortune, are doing the next best and closest things instead.

And then there’s the standing Couse enjoys in the recent history of Cork popular music. In the long traditions of keeping the best secrets on the inside, he produced the first Frank And Walters E.P. for the Setanta label and, in hindsight, should have gone on and finished the job by doing the band’s debut album as well. By the time he was back behind the bench with them, far too late, on their second – and still easily their best album, ‘Grand Parade’, the moment, you’d think, was lost, the spirit having flown. But Couse’s whipsmart production only highlights how under-cooked ‘Trains, Boats And Planes’, The Franks’ nervous-sounding debut, was ;- in no way does the sound of that record do justice to many of it’s terrific cuts. ‘Trains’ has aged poorly and, twenty-five years on, sounds emaciated and tinny :- given the steroids Couse also infused into The Franks’ ‘Beauty Becomes More Than Life’ elpee in 2006, it’s difficult not to think now of what he could have done, years previously, with the debut.  And where that might have taken both parties.

Years later, several worlds collided and I was among the team tasked with producing RTÉ’s Late Late Show, immediately after Gay Byrne had stepped down as host and Pat Kenny moved up onto the crease. I felt it was only right, for several reasons, to move away from the show’s long-standing signature tune, an instrumental passage taken from Chris Andrews’ 1965 hit, ‘To Whom It Concerns’ and so I invited Dave, and a handful of others, to pitch any alternative suggestions they may have had. In my own mind, rightly or wrongly, I felt it was an opportunity to commission a contemporary Irish writer and to maybe sub-contract the work out to someone who may have had a fresh perspective on such matters. Which is what we did :- and it was Ray Harman of Something Happens who eventually composed a new theme for the programme. In the years since he’s carved out a terrific career for himself providing similar services to the feature film and documentary markets.

Dave Couse has stayed nicely busy too and, his radio work apart, has released a handful of records on several labels and under a variety of different band-names, in the years since. Among which the  ‘Batman And Robin’ single, released in September, 2005 under the band name Couse And The Impossible, is still easily the best of his solo material, some of which, his debut solo album ‘Genes’, in particular, is far more introspective and difficult than one might have expected.

For the last ten years or so I’ve spent far too much time in the shopping centre in Nutgrove, close to where I now life on the southside of Dublin. Where once I used it to do a regular family grocery shop and maybe pick  up an over-priced, over-caloried coffee on the hoof, its now one of my primary social outlets, somewhere to kill an hour during the insanity or whenever I want to lose my children. There’s a Credit Union office on the complex, an excellent off-licence and a couple of decent take-aways ;- a trip to Nutgrove is everything that a casual wander into the heart of Soho used to be.

The music piped into the centre and out over the tannoys must be among the most interesting and diverse anywhere in the country. Buried in among the sterile old standards you’ll hear, on a routine basis, selections from The Icicle Works, early New Order, The Lotus Eaters and The Fountains Of Wayne. And on a couple of occasions recently, I’ve heard ‘I’ll Always Be Grateful’, still one of A House’s most distinctive cuts, as I’ve dallied in the aisles among the detergents and the toilet rolls.

But while I know that Dave Couse lives on that side of the city, I don’t remember him being invited down to cut the ribbon when they opened the re-furbished Argos branch there a few years back.

A HOUSE : THE GREATEST

 

I am the greatest

Dublin band A House played it’s last ever live show in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on Friday, February 28th, 1997. I wrote about that night – it was far more than just another show, I felt – in my Sunday Tribune column the following weekend, on Sunday, March 2nd and, as was customary for me at the time, loaded the chambers and let rip. The original headline read ‘That’s A House That Was’, but we’ve changed that below. We’ve also made a couple of minor corrections to the copy.

But over eighteen years on, I stand over every single word.


We don’t normally associate either dignity or grace with pop music, and rightly so. Because pop has always been a cold cynic’s play-yard, both on-stage and off, where the bland usually steer the blind through mutual cheating games that end either with frustrated tears or with token, pithy pay-offs.

That said, Dublin band A House never really ran with the pack anyway, always preferring their own counsels and their own instincts, rightly or wrongly, and always staying truest to themselves. That they chose to bow out while they were at least in control of their standards and not, as with most bands, over drinking sessions or through newspaper press-releases, sums them up in one and arguably says more than any number of bland obituaries.

Billing any show as ‘a final farewell’ is always playing too close to the sun, an immovable closing point and a full-stop set into stone. But then A House were always well ahead of the also-rans and, with a brashy ignorance and an enduring gang mentality, always seemed to get it right. And they’ll be missed, that’s for sure.

What’s also certain, however, is that this country will hardly see their approach again in a hurry, such is the extent of pop music’s changed landscape around our way. Because A House were always able to steer their own boat with far more control and clarity than most, managed as astutely and as intuitively as any act this country has seen, and powered always where it mattered ;- by the band’s own prolific level of application and delivery. A head-start, as it were, that owed only to the band and to its immediate coterie, where little else ever mattered.

There was a truly over-blown ten year period in the initial wake of U2’s first great arrival when all Irish album releases were characterised by over-long and over-familiar thank-you credits on their inside sleeves. In hindsight, this is arguably either a sign of the times or a sign of an over-heavy dependence. But ultimately no more than a series of sentimental stains on far too much domestic pop music history.

Dublin’s Something Happens must, for instance, genuinely wonder where most of those name-checked on the inside of the well-good ‘Stuck Together With God’s Glue’ got to when it mattered the most, when both the money and the free-booze ran dry ?

Ironically, and probably typically, A House chose to thank only themselves on their first album. Because as a band that at one point used to have circular posters – this despite that fact that it was something of a nuisance for the band themselves to actually cut them cleanly about the edges – and for a band that headlined in Dublin and in London as often as any and that still only ever did two encores ever, A House always knew how far they could push and how far they could actually subvert what it was they were about. Their only real debts were to themselves because when push got to shove it was always going to be four like-minds only against the whole world. So that while their statements were blatant, they rarely shouted from rooftops and seldom reached for the skies. And no one ever messed with A House.

Which made their farewell show last weekend one of the most cathartic and genuinely disconcerting live events that this column has seen or heard in 15 years. No Caro Meas, no undue fusses and no forced sentiment, A House came over like they’ve always come over [always four and often six-square], cocksure and strutted –up like they knew, just knew, how damned good they were and how damned good it was what they were leaving behind them.

Granted A House never sold as many records as they should have, which is where pop history will ultimately judge them. But the fact is that, with one genuine, real-deal top forty single and with five truly defining albums for three different record labels, they leave behind the body of work they always claimed that they would, one way or the other.

But the most compelling reality is that, in over ten years, they never unduly either copped out or bowed to the vagaries of pop’s sensibility, checking out in a blaze of gold and silver like they always knew that they would. Twenty great pop songs and one quick three-way encore and they were gone.

The most unsettling thing of all, of course, is that like perhaps most of the crowd that filled last weekend’s final throw, we’d never actually seen a band break up and fold it all away so publicly and so defiantly before. And while their last great finale marks the end of their own gorgeous stretch at pop’s crease, their passing also arguably draws the safety curtain on the first and last great pop movement this country has either seen or heard – that genuinely awesome guitar burst that started at Dame Street’s Underground over ten years ago and that trundled through more wonderful moments and great records than it ever probably wants to imagine.

Many of them played out, naturally, by A House who, like no other band this country has seen excepting, arguably, U2, never so divided their own peers so savagely and yet motivated their own support so clinically. A House, you see, knew, that’s all. No undue social appearances, no hanging about and no concessions.

Towards the end of their very last snow, Couse, knowing that for him, at least, an entirely new real world is just around the corner, turned to thank his band’s only manager ever [John Carroll], his band’s bleach-cropped record company punk-boy boss [Setanta’s Keith Cullen] and, perhaps most tellingly, A House’s long-time roadie, technician and all around top-man, Liam Crinion.

Because when A House wake up next month and when there are no rehearsals and no interviews and no television and radio appearances and no production deadlines they’ll know that, ultimately, nothing much has really changed.

Granted their band may not exist, at least in name, anymore, but when their rehearsal space has been stripped back, and when their guitars have been moved outwards and onwards, A House will know that, as always, they’ve still got themselves and no more apologies.