Review: Remastered: The Miami Showband Massacre

One day I decided to go on Netflix on a whim and look at what’s on the front page. The whole point of putting stuff on the front page is to promote new movies and shows that might interest the viewers.

I saw it, a promo for the new Netflix documentary, Remastered: The Miami Showband Massacre. So I decided to click on it and give it a watch and review it for my readers.

Who were The Miami Showband?

The documentary focuses on one of Ireland’s most popular acts of the 60s and 70s, The Miami Showband. If you’re not in Ireland or you don’t know much about Irish music, you probably don’t know about them, but they were basically The Beatles of Ireland. They were apolitical and united mixed crowds. There were multiple lineups of the band. The band had both Protestant and Catholic members from both the North and the Republic. Religion didn’t matter to them, talent did.

First things first, you might be wondering what is up with that name? I’m not sure about the Miami part, but showbands are a type of popular dance band in Ireland. Showbands would play rock music, country music, jazz, and Irish trad music – pretty versatile. A lot of British and American influence. Rock stars like Van Morrison, Henry McCullough, Rory Gallagher, and Eric Bell were in showbands.

One lineup was active in the mid 60s and they had multiple chart toppers. The band’s frontman, Dickie Rock, competed in Eurovision in 1966.

If you want to read more about them, check out this website.

What happened?

In July 1975, The Miami Showband played a show in Banbridge, Northern Ireland and after the show, they stopped at a bogus checkpoint, assuming it was legitimate. They were ordered to get out of the van. They chat with the armed men and suddenly more gunmen show up, a bomb is put in the van, the bomb explodes, and gunfire.

Three of the band members were killed: Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy, and Tony Geraghty. Two Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Regiment members, Harry Boyle and Wesley Somerville, died as well. Two band members survived.

UVF members Thomas Crozier and James McDowell were arrested afterwards and were sentenced to life, but later released as part of the peace process. At the trial, the surviving band members who were witnesses were harassed and received death threats from family of the UVF and UDR members.

Afterwards, the Miami Showband continued playing, but bassist Stephen Travers felt that he couldn’t continue with the band much longer because he was so traumatised and he decided to move to London and get away from all of this and lived there for almost 2 decades. He returned to Ireland once it was safer and decided to get started investigating and getting answers.

The Miami Showband killings had an effect on live music being played in Northern Ireland. Bands from the Republic were too afraid to go up north, fearing that they could be next. Showbands declined in popularity and these dance halls were turned into nightclubs.

My thoughts on the documentary:

The documentary is tells the story well, but prepare to feel emotional. It’s poignant. What really hit me was when they were talking about the events right before the massacre. Everything seemed to be going great for them: people are loving the show, you can’t tell who is Catholic or Protestant, everyone’s united by the music. Then there’s what seems to be a routine stop at a checkpoint, followed by an explosion and shooting, killing three of the band members. Then you see footage of the funerals, and the surviving band members telling the story. It is emotional, and leaves an impact, even if you’re not from Ireland or you don’t know anything about The Miami Showband.

The documentary doesn’t just focus on the terrorist attack itself, but mostly on how it affected the survivors and the theories like was the British establishment complicit (collusion) or if they were trying to frame the Miami Showband, and investigative breakthroughs made since then.

Everything is explained well so even someone without much familiarity with The Troubles can understand.

As usual, this documentary was really well presented, edited, and produced. I don’t expect anything less from Netflix.

If you have an interest in murder mysteries and history, you’ll like this documentary. Don’t just take my word for it, give it a watch. You’ll be moved. Before I watched it, I had no idea about the band or what they played, but at the end, all I wanted was justice for the Miami Showband and it’s another reminder of the many disgusting things that Britain has done in the countries they colonised.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Stephen Travers from the end of the documentary:

“Music is the common language. It’s something that’s appreciated and loved by everybody regardless of what their political, religious views are, whatever…

We were bringing communities together. When we played, sectarianism was left outside the door. That’s the power of music. The people who do these types of things, they’re afraid of beauty. They’re afraid of all the goodness that’s in society.”

Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick.

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