IT was the best of times it was the worst of times.
It was the mid-70s and Belfast was a scary place to be. Over in the west of the city you could hear the dawn chorus of bin lids clashing with the road, alerting us that dawn raids were taking place and to wake up, wake up.
Meanwhile, up Dunmurry Lane in SHAC housing’s first property, there was another cry to wake us up. It was the sound of The Lids, a punkish New Wave sound, screaming through the chaos. The legendary Paul Kelly on drums would create a beat that Ginger Baker would be proud of. I found myself with a group of like-minded people and The Lids were born.

Saturday afternoons was band practice time and Paddy Donnelly, John Kilfeather, Paul Kelly, Ambrose McCallion and myself would come together to discover that lost chord.
I remember sharing the Big SHAC house with two other bands at the time, The Androids and the amazing Ask Mother. For me, this was energy at its purest form: raw, loud and authentic.
Back then bands were springing up everywhere, expressing their own interpretation of the insane system that was oppressive in many forms. It was as though there was an alternative Ulster in the making and that the old ways were over and a New Wave had arrived.

The Clash for me led the way with London’s Burning and on my precious triple Clash album, Sandinista, lyrics such as “when they knock down your front door” – and at that time in Belfast lots of front doors were being knocked down. But what was emerging from behind the knocked-down doors was a force to be reckoned with.
The jazz, rock and roll and hippie eras had fused into a New Wave. I remember we had our own comradeship and the ideas were bubbling over with excitement; everything was possible.
The legend who is known as the Godfather of Punk, Terri Hooley, cultivated this new growth and of course he also inspired us to think outside the box – and we blew the Lid off the box. There’s nothing more exciting than excitement itself.
I remember at this time that Talking heads launched Talking Heads 77, and our Rastafarian friends, Culture, brought out Two sevens Clash.  For me, 1977 was special as we toured the local venues between Belfast, Derry and Portstewart. The universities, Magee, University of Ulster, Coleraine and Queen’s opened their doors to the sound of the 70s and The Lids were part of this unstoppable movement.
Fans rejoiced in the bedlam as the old ways fell away. What I loved about this time was the birth of so many new bands across the north.
Joe Strummer sumed it up best with his observation: “If punk was hard, Ulster was harder. If punk was chaos, Ulster was warzone.  Punk was the perfect soundtrack to the ravaged cities.”