The Urge with new lead singer, Eamonn Toal (centre).

Remembering ‘Avenue Man’

F ormer Eurovision singer Eamonn Toal has teamed up with Dundalk band The Urge to remember the late Bagatelle singer, Liam Reilly, with a new song, ‘Avenue Man’.

Stephen Hand and Denver Rafferty of The Urge wrote the song to honour Reilly and his legacy. The Dundalk native, famous for hits such as ‘Summer in Dublin’ and ‘Second Violin’ died suddenly on New Year’s Day last.

The song was released on Friday last September 11, as Liam was honoured by the New York Police and Fire Departments after the 9/11 atrocity, when they declared Liam’s song, ‘Streets of New York’ the New York emergency services anthem in honour of the people that lost their lives in the rescue attempt on that fateful day.

Reilly’s songwriting hits with Bagatelle included ‘Trump Card’, ‘Leeson Street Lady’, and ‘Second Violin’. A prolific songwriter, he also wrote songs that were recorded by the Wolfe Tones, the Dublin City Ramblers and others. These include ‘Flight of the Earls’, ‘Streets of New York’ and ‘Boston Rose’.

In 1980, when recording the band’s debut album, Trump Card, Reilly received an offer from Elton John’s producer, Gus Dudgeon, to begin a solo career but he opted to stay with Bagatelle.

During the recording of ‘Avenue Man’, The Urge invited Dunshaughlin, County Meath-based Toal to sing lead vocals.

Like Reilly, Monaghan native Toal has a Eurovision tradition, and still holds the record for Ireland’s highest place in the competition this century and millennium since his ‘Millennium of Love’ finished in sixth place in 2000.

In 1988, Reilly was a finalist in the Irish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest with a song called ‘Lifeline’. In 1990, his solo performance of his own song, ‘Somewhere in Europe’ came joint second out of 22 entries in the Eurovision Song Contest in Zagreb. And in 1991, he composed the song ‘Could It Be That I’m in Love’ for Kim Jackson.

Reilly was a great early influence on songwriters Stephen Hand and Denver Rafferty, and much to their joy, in later life they got to meet him and become friends with him. They enjoyed many musical sessions in Beagan’s Bar in Seatown, Dundalk, sitting around the piano and singing together with many other Dundalk musicians and friends.

Eamonn Toal was delighted to be a part of the song, and sang a wonderful vocal in the studio much to the band’s delight.

After going so well for everyone, The Urge invited Toal to join them as their new lead singer and front man.

The Urge have been a busy wedding band in the northeast area for a number of years. Like all bands, they were stopped on their tracks by Covid-19, but are now looking forward to a busy season of weddings and gigs ahead. (See The Urge Wedding Band on Facebook and Instagram).

Eamonn Toal says it is only fitting that they pay tribute to Liam Reilly in such a way, as his passing in the middle of the pandemic meant that many could not get to say a proper farewell to the great performer and songwriter.

“The heartfelt song captures the spirit and legacy of Liam Reilly in music and lyrics that will resonate with people to this day,” he says.