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Steve Wall reveals how The Stunning played a private gig for Vicky Phelan before she died

Steve speaks about his special relationship with brave cervical cancer campaigner

The Stunning will be playing at festivals and at Dublin’s 3Olympia

Vicky Phelan loved The Stunning and even asked them to perform at her funeral

The Stunning

Eddie RowleySunday World

LIKE so many performers whose global ambitions never made it into the stratosphere despite their exceptional talent, Steve Wall of The Stunning saw his dreams fall to earth in 1994.

The Stunning had been one of Ireland’s biggest bands with hits such as Romeo’s On Fire and Brewing Up A Storm, but they needed to crack the international scene to survive financially.

By ’94 it was obvious to Steve and the band that this wasn’t going to happen, so they called it a day.

Nine years later, in 2003, The Stunning reformed for an Irish tour and for the first time Steve and the band that includes his brother, Joe, realised the impact they had made in the lives of their fans, and felt the love like never before.

Later, they would have a very personal experience with one amazing ‘super- fan’, fearless cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan, who asked them live on The Late Late Show to sing at her funeral.

“I don’t think we realised until we got back together in 2003 and we reissued the album, Paradise In The Picturehouse, and went back out on a tour, how popular the band was and the love that was there for the band.

“That first tour in 2003 was a complete sell-out. There were people flying back from England and America… flying home to see The Stunning!

Vicky Phelan loved The Stunning and even asked them to perform at her funeral

“We were meeting them at the merchandise stand after the show and hearing their stories, such as how some would sneak out their bedroom window as teenagers to come see us play.

“Imelda May did that!

She told me we were the first gig she saw and she had crawled out her bedroom window in Dublin, got on a bus and went to see us at the Boxing Club in Drogheda when she was around 16.”

Vicky Phelan was their most high-profile fan in latter years. Before she became a household name, one of her friends contacted The Stunning through their website saying how Vicky was receiving treatment for cancer.

“They had bought tickets for the Mungret Music Festival in Limerick where we were playing, but then Vicky had got sick and couldn’t go,” Steve says.

“The message said that Vicky was a massive fan of the band, adding ‘You wouldn’t believe how much this woman has loved ye. Is there any way you could come and do a gig for her in her house?’”

The private show for Vicky and her friends ultimately took place in the same venue where she’d had her wedding reception.

“It was a big gathering of all her close people, about 80 of them,” Steve says. “That morning Vicky had just got the good news that the experimental drug, Pembro, was working and the tumours had shrunk.

“She was over the moon, it was great timing and it turned into a celebration night. There’s a clip of the night in the Vicky documentary.”

Sadly, Vicky’s treatment ultimately failed.

“She was on the Late Late Show, and because it was going to be her last time on television, the Late Late got in touch and asked us to perform on the show as a nice surprise for Vicky.

“And then that night she put us on the spot. She said, ‘Will you play at my funeral?’ To be asked that on live television! We joked about it with her afterwards.

The Stunning

“The last time we saw Vicky, Joe and myself were playing an acoustic show in Lisdoonvarna in December 2021 and she came with all her pals, about 20 of them.

"That was just after she had done The Late Late Show.

“Her funeral was a private family affair, but the memorial was beautiful.

"It was lovely to hear her family and friends do the eulogies and tell the stories about her Vicky was a real force of nature, a great friend and a great mother.”

The Stunning are looking forward to a new year of festivals and a Dublin show at the 3Olympia in November, but in the meantime Steve and Joe’s sideline group, The Walls, have a new and final album called Stray Sparks due out in March and now available to pre-order.

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