NI 1980s rock stars Silent Running back in tune again

One of Northern Ireland’s biggest musical exports of the 1980s have got back together after 30 years in a move that has seen a group of dads become “cool” again.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 8:00 am
Northern Ireland rock band Silent Running, who toured with Simple Minds in the eighties, playing in Belfast venue Voodoo in June. Pic: Bruno Tamiozzo

Silent Running released three albums on EMI and Atlantic Records and toured Europe and the USA extensively with the likes of Simple Minds, Robert Palmer and Talk Talk.

After they broke up in 1989, singer Peter Gamble said he was happy to “let sleeping dogs lie”, but after a chance request at a party the band ended up back on stage and back in the studio.

It was at a birthday party for the wife of one of the band members that the group were asked to strike up a tune for the first time in three decades.

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Silent Running's 1984 single ‘Young Hearts’

Belfast man Peter said: “We just did it for a laugh, but as soon as you step back on stage you get sucked in. We started rehearsing again.

“We didn’t realise there was a lot of interest in the band on social media, there’s a lot of stuff on YouTube and someone had set up a Silent Running fan page with input from all over the world. We thought, ‘wow, let’s do a show’.”

Having played a sold-out gig in Belfast’s Voodoo in June the band will return to the same venue tomorrow evening. This time round they will be armed with a new song – Lost Boy – the band’s first new material in 30 years.

Peter said: “I couldn’t believe that some people got on a plane from other parts of the UK to come to the show in June for a band playing for the first time in 20-odd years. There’s more of them coming this time. It’s mindblowing.”

Now 58, he said: “We all have normal jobs nowadays. I was a full-time musician from 20 until 35, then I had to face the harsh reality of mortgage, kids and bills like everyone else. Music is one of those professions like acting, it doesn’t go on forever for everyone. Now it’s more of a hobby.”

Of the changes to the industry, he said: “When we were playing we used to get on Saturday morning kids’ TV, we were on shows like The Tube, The Old Grey Whistle Test and chart shows. There’s so few mediums to go on now I don’t know how people hear bands these days.”

He added: “The Talk Talk tour of Europe was memorable for a number of reasons. They were massive in Europe and their fans were so interested in the support band.

“People say you never appreciate it, but I really did. I got to go round all these countries I’d never been to before and play music. It was incredible.”

Peter, who has three children, said: “Whenever we did the show in June my kids and the other guys in the band’s kids turned up along with lots of their friends in their 20s. Having the chance to play to a new generation was great.

“I think maybe my kids and their friends thought, ‘those oul lads aren’t too bad’. For an hour and a half I was cool.”