Music fans have been invited to book the babysitter and put on their dancing shoes by The 4 of Us frontman Brendan Murphy for their Dunamaise Arts Centre gig on Friday night.
It will be something of a family reunion for Brendan and his brother Declan as they have relatives in Portlaoise.
Their relatives, the Heavin family settled in Portlaoise in the late ‘90s. They had originally moved to Chester in the UK from their native Armagh, before returning to live in the midlands.
“They often turn up at our gigs in places like Vicar Street so we said we would make it easier for them this time,” Brendan laughed.
He says the band are no strangers to Portlaoise having previously played in Kavanagh’s and the Midlands Park Hotel when it was the Heritage Hotel.
However, this Friday night’s performance in the Dunamaise Arts Centre is the first time they will play there.
“It is exciting to be performing in a new room. There aren’t many venues in the country that we haven’t played, so it is always nice to get to perform in a new venue,” he said.
“I actually contacted them because I heard it was a great room to play in,” Brendan explained.
The singer said their gigs feature all their music from the iconic Mary off their first album, Songs for the Tempted to Sugar Island from their most recent release.
“We have been going since 1989 so we don’t rule out any song that people want to hear,” Brendan said of their live approach.
“We try and make sure that people get to hear the songs they want to hear, and have fun with the audience,” he said.
“It’s all about the audience. We have to make sure that everybody goes home thinking that was worth hiring the babysitter to go see. I have a family and kids so I know what’s involved in getting to a show. I feel a responsibility to put on a great show and it is an honour that people have come to your show, rather than staying at home to watch TV,” he said.
The lead singer says he never tires of playing their most enduring song, Mary, either. “It’s the easiest song to perform as the audience takes over,” he said.
“When I wrote that song, I never dreamed it would be such a big song. I heard a busker doing it in Dublin a few weeks ago. I don’t feel that I or The 4 of Us own it anymore, it’s just one of those big Irish songs now,” he said.
He said he feels it is “amazing” that the song is considered one of the great Irish songs in the company of songs by Van Morrisson, Aslan, U2, Thin Lizzy etc.
“It looks like the song is going to outlive me. As a songwriter, that’s something you set out to achieve,” he said.
The Newry native said the format of Friday night’s show will allow them engage with the audience more than if they had a full band with them. “I like to interact with the audience quite a bit… You can expect a lot of energy and we like it to sound like there is a full band there. It may be acoustic but there aren’t too many ballads in there,” he said.
“People should book the babysitter and get their dancing shoes on,” Brendan said. He said while it is a seated venue, they plan to get people out of their seats on the night.
A limited number of tickets are still available from the Dunamaise Arts Centre box office.