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Flower power has returned.

Byline: By Gordon Barr

Hothouse Flowers are at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday. Showbusiness Reporter Gordon Barr has the details

Almost two decades ago, a bunch of lads were trying to make ends meet by busking on the streets of Dublin.

Liam O Maonlai, Fiachna O Braonain, Peter O'Toole and Dave Clark soon made a name for themselves in Ireland's fair city.

They called themselves Hothouse Flowers and were soon courting the attention and assistance of U2's Mother Records and making a name for themselves with their own passionate brand of Irish-rooted rock `n' soul.

Their big international break came two years later, in the interval of the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest, when they performed the ditty Don't Go.

It became a worldwide smash and this was followed with being named Best Unsigned Band In Europe by Rolling Stone magazine and signing a deal with London Records.

Three albums, world tours and adulation followed, before, in 1994, silence.

To the members of Hothouse Flowers, the intervening years have been rich with collaborations and solo journeys.

"We needed to feel the fresh air of the possibility that we wouldn't keep going," says Liam. "We had to stop to look and say, `do we want to carry on with it?'.

The three core members, Liam, Fiachna and Peter developed an impressive list of guest appearances between them, with the likes of The Waterboys, The Indigo Girls, Michelle Shocked, Ron Wood and Carly Simon.

And then they discovered they still had something to say as Hothouse Flowers.

"We'd talked about it over the last couple of years and it is something that goes beyond words, that was left unfinished, that we still had to do together," Fiachna observes.

A fourth studio album, Born, emerged in 1997, which revealed a harder, more electronic edge to the band. Available only as an import in the US, Born attracted excellent critical reviews.

The last album for London Records, its appeal brought about a tour as well as a support slot with the Rolling Stones during their Bridges To Babylon tour.

The live activity sparked a live album, which is currently available at Flowers shows and via mail order.

With US tours in 1999, 2001 and 2002, they continued to reaffirm their presence on the live circuit and the band performed at festivals in Japan, Africa and across Europe, including a tour of Irish colleges.

In the middle of all this activity, they recorded their fifth studio album Into Your Heart, featuring 14 new tracks.

"This record is the most raw, soulful record we've ever done," says Fiachna.

Hothouse Flowers are at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday.

Ticket details on (0191) 261 2606.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 21, 2004
Words:446
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