“Good Vibrations” from the Godfather of Punk
I will be upfront and honest from the start of this review in saying that I had no idea what this show was about and when asked to review it I thought it was something to do with the Beach Boys from the title.
Following a bit of research, I discovered that the show is about Terri Hooley the proclaimed godfather of the punk movement of the 70s. For those like me who don’t know who Terri Hooley is here is what comes up when you google him, “a prominent figure in the Belfast punk scene and founder of the Good Vibrations record shop and label, responsible for bands such as The Undertones, Rudi, Protex and The Outcasts making their mark on the music scene in Ireland and Britain. After playing "Teenage Kicks" on BBC, national radio John Peel then became a big supporter of the Good Vibrations record label,” now lets get back to the show review:
When you hear the words "musical" you don't really think of a band of young punks playing a song so full of conviction that the rafters shake, but that's exactly what happened on the press night at the Grand Opera House. The show follows the story of the life of Terri (played brilliantly by Glen Wallace) – from birth he was Terry with a ‘y’ but with his dry sarcastic humour and wit he decided to became Terri with an “I,” which like many things in Terri’s life there was a story behind, in this one he lost his left eye when playing bows and arrows age 6 to chants of being called a fenian .
The show starts from his small but determined beginnings, the opening of his record shop that named this very show and the film it has been adapted from “Good Vibrations.” At the time he was also DJ-ing in the Harp Bar and had developed a keen interest in local homegrown bands and musicians. So much so he decided that on top of running a record shop, being a DJ and a husband to become a promotor of some of the earlier mentioned bands and he somehow manages to get the BBC legend John Peel to play Teenage Kicks on Radio one. John later makes an appearance at an Ulster Hall gig Terri arranged where over 2,000 gig goers realise what it meant to be a punk from Belfast. Ironically being a big-hearted man that he comes across as, Terri had given so many free passes away the event actually failed to make any money a failure and a triumph for reasons which will become clear when you watch the show.
There are a mix of turbulent, intense and tender scenes throughout the show, many involving his wife Ruth played by Jayne Wisener with great fervour. Special mention must go to Christina Nelson who plays Hooleys mum, a nun, a punk among other roles with such potency and humour.
An intense and rather chaotic show at times, with a cast of singing punks playing guitars and drums live on stage. Clever and well thought through staging, with the use of concert rigging boxes, a steel roller and paired light and sound to set the scenes of the troubles of Belfast and the famous record shop.
Good Vibrations is at the Grand Opera House Belfast until Sat 20th May 2023. Visit goh.co.uk to get your tickets