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Movies & TV

29th Dec 2021

A who’s who of Irish music pay tribute to the late Mic Christopher in new documentary on his life

Stephen Porzio

Mic Christopher 50th birthday gig

It chronicles the life of the singer-songwriter who died tragically 20 years ago, at the age of 32.

Music documentary Heyday: The Mic Christopher Story is screening at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) this weekend and will be available to rent from IFI@Home for a limited time.

The film tells the story of the American-born Irish singer-songwriter, from his humble beginnings busking on Grafton Street, to fronting rock band The Mary Janes, to his acclaimed solo work with songs like ‘Heyday’, to his tragic death in 2001 at the age of 32.

Appearing in the documentary to discuss their relationship with Mic is an impressive line-up of Irish talent, including Bronagh Gallagher, Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Paddy Casey, Rónán Ó’Snodaigh and Sharon Horgan, as well as international artists such as Josh Ritter and Mike Scott of The Waterboys.

Speaking to JOE, the makers of the documentary said there was “so much goodwill” from the participants in the film to be part of continuing Mic’s legacy.

As for what made the singer-songwriter so special, director Alan Leonard said:

“I never met Mic. I didn’t know him but if you talk to his friends… Glen [Hansard] says it was the mix that made him so attractive to people.

“So, he was very humble, he was very down to earth. He was just the quintessential perfect nice guy.

“But he also had the rock-star charisma as well… He is that quintessential mix that I don’t think exists as commonly in this world as you might imagine and I think that just drew everyone to him.”

The film’s producer Níall Carver added:

“Very often, lead singers in bands are egomaniacs and not easy people to get along with.

“I think Mic defied that stereotype by being the most charming man in the world by all accounts and having such a deep well of wisdom that he would share with everybody.”

Clip via Galway Film Fleadh

While Mic may be best known for his single ‘Heyday’ – famously used in the Guinness ad where Michael Fassbender swims to New York – Leonard drew comparisons between the musician’s work with The Mary Janes and bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

“I, like a lot of the population I would guess, was familiar with Mic through ‘Heyday’ and ‘Skylarkin’,” the director said.

“So as Níall brought me into the Mic Christopher world, I discovered his music was a lot richer than that.

“Before his solo album, he had two albums with his band The Mary Janes.

“Now, the first one is very rocky. It’s really good but it’s… almost like a garage sound. It’s like Nirvana’s Bleach. That’s his album Bored of Their Laughing.

“But his second album, the one where they almost went mainstream, is called Sham and that is like grunge rock perfection. It’s amazing.

“For reasons [we get into] in the documentary, it didn’t get the publicity it certainly should have.

“There’s tracks on that album that are [that] perfect Seattle sound. I mean, it’s as good as anything you get on Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, even Nirvana, Pearl Jam.

“If you want me to describe Mic’s music outside of the mainstream stuff… grunge rock ’90s perfection on the album Sham would be a good way of pitching it.”

The documentary will air on TG4 tonight (29 December) at 10.15pm.

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