The last contact I had with Niall Mercer before his recent passing was in response to a Facebook post about a band called Honeyblood.
Now it’s not uncommon to see bands mentioned in dispatches on social media, but if Big Niall thought someone was worth a listen, you took his advice…
And, true to form, he was (in my opinion) spot on about Honeyblood—and here’s the audio of “Babes Never Die”, the title track from the duo’s second album by way of proof.
What I’ve loved about music since I gained a real interest in the late 1970s was how often one band could lead you to discover another … and another…
Honeyblood were on tour in April, and their main support was a trio that went by the name of Doe. They also released an album last year, entitled “Some Things Last Longer Than You”—and it is outstanding.
So much so that I wrote a review … only my second ever attempt at offering an opinion about a musical offering. The fact that the word “review” is underlined means you can see the article simply by clicking … the wonders of modern science.
As it transpired, I was in London when Honeyblood and Doe played in York, but within a matter of weeks, the latter returned to the north east—Durham to be precise—and it was great to get the chance not only to hear, but also to meet Nicola, Jake and Dean.
Fast forward to August, and Doe travelled across the Atlantic to play a few shows in the USA. One of those gigs was alongside an American band (another trio coincidentally) called Amanda X. Doe said they were great—so I had a listen; and in true Mercer tradition they were absolutely right.
Their 2017 release “Giant” is the best album I’ve heard all year; and a link to one of the slower songs, “Scarlet Geraniums” is included below … just after the fantastic “Before Her” by Doe (honestly the ending is amazing).
I have no doubt that the chain will continue, and I wonder how often something similar has played out over the years, with Niall helping so many people to discover and enjoy great music.
Niall’s gift has now become his legacy; and whilst his untimely death was a massive shock to everyone who knew the big fella, as long as I’m listening to bands like Honeyblood, Doe, and Amanda X, I will always remember Niall Mercer ... and that's a pretty special legacy.