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The T-shirt tours

“You’re a proper band if you’ve got a tour t-shirt.” For over ten years the Frances Doonan Band, a flexible line-up of Geordie and Yorkshire musicians fronted by the ever-lovely Frances, played to the Irish ex-pats on St Patrick’s Day. The tours included Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and China.

But a t-shirt’s not a t-shirt unless it has a slogan – ‘Taiwan for the money...’, ‘Wokking all over the world’ – and band members often included Pat Noodles and Paddy Fields.

Performing a mixture of Irish songs with display dancing in full costume to rock ‘n’ roll and soul classics, the band played to bewildered locals and drunken ex-pats. The far eastern Irish danced on the tables, fell out of their ballgowns and sobbed into their free Jameson’s when we trotted out ‘Danny Boy’. The band played in six-star palaces, on open air Guinness stages, ‘English’ pubs and once to a collection of cultural dignitaries near Tiananmen Square!

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