Good Vibrations

Balaclavas, punk rock and a railing against collaboration of church and state. Not a Pussy Riot gig, but 1970s Belfast, and this time it was the IRA that had the headwear.

Good Vibrations (showing as part of the Sonic programme strand at London Film Festival on 19, 20, 21 October) is the story of Terri Hooley, commonly known as Ulster’s Godfather of Punk. Terri was a DJ at the height of the Troubles, regularly playing to empty pubs, but always with the faith that music was the panacea to heal the rifts between the Catholics and Protestants (or at least amongst the youth). His idea was to start a record shop, right in the heart of the conflict zone, where shops were cheap to rent, and let the rastaman vibrations of reggae and ganja do their work. But it didn’t. It was not until a young punk came into the shop looking for some Buzzcocks records that Terri’s life took a change. He realised that the kids from both sides were united in the anger and energy of the raw punk rock music that was exploding in London and New York.

Terri became so impassioned with the music that, with no experience, and in the true spirit of the punk movement, set up his own record label to get the music out to the kids. Driven by passion rather than business acumen, he introduced the Undertones (Teenage Kicks) to world.

Good Vibrations perfectly captures the mood of the era, often intercut with actual news footage of the day, and shows how one man’s love of music changed the landscape of his home, earning him the respect of his peers, without ever having to sacrifice his ideals. The film is filled with humour, mostly from Hooley’s perpetual optimism, but never glosses over the harsh reality of the era, to give it plenty of emotion as well. Richard Dormer is superb in the lead and is ably supported by Jodie Whittaker as his devoted, but long-suffering, wife.

Anyone interested in the history of the punk movement should check out this little-known story of someone who dared to make a difference.