Jerry Fish plays Newbridge’s Riverbank Theatre tonight

A night of theatricality with one of Ireland’s best-known musical entertainers is promised for the Riverbank tonight, Wednesday, February 13.

A night of theatricality with one of Ireland’s best-known musical entertainers is promised for the Riverbank tonight, Wednesday, February 13.

Jerry Fish will take to the stage with a carnival-inspired theatrical performance that promises lots of audience participation.

The former Emotional Fish frontman, lately of rootsy collective Jerry Fish and the Mudbug Club, is touring arts centres and small theatres with his solo show.

“I involve the audience a lot in the show, it’s a lot of fun and a positive experience,”he told the Leader.

“There is a Native American saying, if you are unhappy you are living in the future or the past. There is no unhappiness in the now. This show is bringing everyone into the now, having as much fun as possible with the music.”

And the larger-than-life character warned that “anything can happen” when he transforms on stage, and he can never predict what will happen during a show.

“I was always a big fan of Iggy Pop - I started in a rock band and that’s my core and my roots. People always said to me I was like Iggy - I’d go onstage and become a different person.”

Audience interaction and reaction is an important part of the performance.

“If someone had told me you would have moments where people are standing there and, pardon my French, wetting their knickers laughing. It’s something I’ve started to adore - people leave the show feeling fuller and energised,” said Fish.

The frontman’s focus on positivity and good energy extends to his charity work.

As the lead singer of alternative rock band An Emotional Fish in the late 80s and early 90s, Jerry Fish - real name Gerard Whelan - was the man behind Irish alternative rock classic ‘Celebrate’.

The song was rerecorded last year in aid of Kildare-based children’s charity Barretstown, and the band also reunited for a fundraising gig in the Olympia in March of last year.

This year, Fish has joined forces with fellow musicians Mundy, Gavin Glass, Valerie Francis and Cathy Davey to record a song for the TodayFM Ray D’Arcy show’s annual cancer fundraiser, Shave or Dye.

The number, called ‘Start Again’ will be released on Friday with most of the proceeds going to the cause.

Fish got involved via Glass, with who he performs at the annual Turning Pirate New Year’s Eve party at Vicar Street.

“I didn’t even hesitate, I didn’t even hear the song,” he said. “I’m really into positive things, that is what I thrive on, and it seemed such a positive thing to do.”

Not that he’ll be either shaving or dyeing his hair for the cause.

“I get away with giving my services as a singer,” he laughed, “but I do have a daughter, who is 11, who wants to dye her hair for Shave or Dye.”

Fish plans to relase what he describes as “bursts of releases” in March of this year, starting with a collaboration with Rarely Seen Above Ground.

“Because I started in a rock band I’m still in touch with a lot of the younger musicians, so I’ll be working with a lot of different people,” he said. “Mixes and collaborations, I find that a bit more interesting at the moment, as record sales are becoming a thing of the past.”

Not that the destruction of the record industry and the changing face of music consumption, typified by the recent closure of the HMV chain, bothers him much.

“Being a musician is a nomadic culture anyhow - we come from the same stock as gypsies.

“We’re ducking and diving, but people like me who survive outside the ‘major’ record industry, we’re free to try different things, so we’re not as stuck.

“You have to be a lot more creative these days which, as an artist, is fantastic, but as a father it’s scary. But during the recent crash we have seen people who would have had ‘steady’ jobs who have lost their jobs, and they have no clue what to do.

“Artists live precariously anyway - I boxed as a kid so I’m still ducking and diving.”

Jerry Fish performs at the Riverbank Arts Centre on Wednesday, February 13, at 8pm. Time: 8pm and tickets: e20. To book, log on to www.riverbank.ie or call the box office at 045 448330.