Monday, December 22, 2008

Kings of Dublin...

Still searching for a good photo of the O2 so this will have to do, courtesy of the good people over at State.
Hard to describe how impressed I was with the new O2 (still feels weird saying that), but considering they spent €80 million on it, plus the fact that it was a sh*thole to begin with, makes it less suprising that it is now a state of the art, all purpose music venue, unparalleled in this country.
Kings of Leon were good - very good even - and played for two hours, but like many others, I spent most of the first hour marvelling at the size of the room. 14,000 people I might add, and still very comfortable.
French electro-rock band M83 got things underway but seemed a little lost in the size of the venue. Saw them in Andrew's Lane recently enough and was rather more impressed.
KOL appeared on stage to thunderous roars around 9.15pm, and to the rather less thunderous and more atmospheric strains of Closer, following quickly with Crawl and My Party, the latter a particular highlight. The rather more up-tempo Molly Chambers followed and all thoughts of anyone sitting down was long forgotten.
That is the interesting thing with a seated gig, particularly one of KOL's ilk - you simply don't want to use your seat. Some interesting happenings took place beside the railing where the seats tapered to the floor, as the entire row were told to sit down for the first few songs. An almighty row broke out between one couple and the security guards when they refused to sit down, all of which took place in front of Hot Press editor Niall Stokes, who tried peering around the arguement, much to our amusement! The couple got evicted, and lo and behold another couple took their place, and proceeded to stand for the rest of the gig. Yes, I am as confused as you.
Anyway, the rest of the gig was a demonstration as to why this band are the biggest in the world today, mixing as they were old classics (Milk, 18, Four Kicks) and newer - admittedly more mainstream but still - potential classics (Use Somebody, Cold Desert, Knocked Up) finishing with a strong four track encore.
The highlight? The crystal clear sound. Superb. Roll on Dylan etc in the new year. Oh, and U2.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Living for the weekend

Loads happening at the weekend around town, here is a very quick run down, more detail to be had from the Limerick Leader website:


Jack L in the Warehouse (not my cup of tea but the man can sing)

The Fewer The Better in Bakers (crash bang wallop, go on the lads)

Nu Killa Kru host an Xmas bash in the Underground


Giveamanakick do Giveamanachristmas in Bakers (with Brian O'Brien of Roper fame)

Stone Roses Experience in the Warehouse


Nick Carswell & The Elective Orchestra's Midwinter Xmas Xtravaganza, Upstairs in Dolan's (More detail on this to follow - free mulled wine and mince pies - I'm in)

In the meantime I'm off to Kings of Leon in the O2 tonight, woop! Pity about the name but I missed out on a media tour of the completely remodelled Point some time ago so can't wait to see if all the hype is justified. M83 play support (superb French electro-crazy outfit) and rumours still abound that U2 will feature at some point. Get in!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sing for your supper...

Heading to Cathy Davey in Dolan's tonight. Alright, I've seen her three or four times at this stage but each time have been more impressed. An interesting performer and even more interesting in conversation, as I found out in June when I interviewed her.

She revealed plenty about her relationship with EMI and how she used to suffer from crippling nerves - plus the fact that her first record, Something Ilk, was a "confused" and "embarrassed" debut.

"I was never prepared with the last album, I always felt so rubbish on stage. I think I had to go through it to not be worried this time around. There was an awful lot of the unknown about it, which freaked me out immensely.

I had just signed to a major label who wanted to put a lot of money into it, because they presumed they were going to get a lot of money out of it," she says matter-of-factly.

Fancy studios, producers, bands and money followed, but she got "red-light fever" in front of so many people.

"I didn't know that I couldn't perform under those circumstances until after I had done it. I am a very private performer and I can't record anything with people looking. The result for me is an album that always sounded embarrassed. Like everything I sang I sounded embarrassed because I was embarrassed to be there and being, well, judged I guess by everyone."

Undeterred, she recorded the second album, Tales of Silversleeve, at home in her house, and finally enlisted Liam Howe (of Sneaker Pimps fame) to set up his computer in her front room to help with the recordings.

"He wasn't like a producer, and that was really important, that I didn't have anyone there who had grand ideas about my music. I don't think I'll ever be able to record in a studio again, for me, the torture side of making an album, I don’t really want that. "

She says she is pleased with the result, that she didn’t want to make a "dirgy, angsty-sounding album, but a happy one".

She should be pleased with what is possibly one of the finest Irish albums of last year. Songs like Mr. Kill, Moving or Reuben will get you dancing; Sing for your Supper, or All of You will break your heart.

"Music goes on. I am not writing music for anyone and the day that I am is a day that would be pretty depressing to think that you are. "

Cathy Davey plays in Dolan's Warehouse tonight, doors at 9pm.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tap, tap, tapping away...

Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, dah.. brewing up a storm..

Etc etc. Heading along to The Stunning tonight, you might have guessed. It's sold out though, so anyone without a ticket, well, I can ring you at the required moment if you want?

Daghdha host their White Christmas Mamuska nights as well this evening. Free and all welcome, dance and fun in the fabulous St. John's Church. It's rare that there is a reason to go there so we would recommend a trip. Go on, brave the horrible night there.

Speaking of sold out, Franz Ferdinand's Dolan's gig sold out in about 30 seconds this morning. Well, maybe not that quick but quick enough. Good work by Mick and his crew down there, and we have heard snippets of other acts to be announced in the near future. Yes please is all we will say for the time being. Keep an eye out in the paper.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm expanding

What a week. I've expanded my creative abilities to the blogosphere, the world of video-journalism and to agricultural reporting. Yup, two lead stories - on our county and city editions - about the return of Irish pork products to butchers in Limerick. Check them out.

In my other role I have an interview with the Stunning in this week's Leader 2 that is worth a read (if I do say so myself). You'll have to buy the paper for that though I'm afraid. Go on, you know you want to.


Eye catching photos from Alan Jacques

Some eye catching photos just arrived via email from Mr Alan Jacques of Live 95FM. Pictured is Aoife from electro-rock outfit the Moth Complex who are playing the ninth Green and Live Sessions gig that Alan runs every month Upstairs in Dolan's. Looks like they are probably worth checking out. See them plus Distractors and rock-tastic Limerick band The Fewer The Better on Sunday December 28.
In the meantime next Thursday's (Dec 18) Green and Live features The Funeral Suits, Walter Mitty and the Realists, Black Daisy and Supermodel Twins. Four bands, all for FREE. Good man Al (and thanks for the photos).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tonight in Trinity Rooms and Dolan's

Three different gigs happening in the city tonight - and who ever complained that there was nothing to do during the week?
Trinity Rooms hosts the final Schnitzel comedy club of the year with someone called Tony Law. Now I'm no huge stand-up comedy fan, but this guy comes well recommended. Not sure what he is doing with the axe in the photo above, but maybe he will reveal all tonight.
Following that Dublin band Dirty Epics play in the club for the LSAD christmas ball, but all are welcome. Decent album recently, but lead singer SJ Wai is probably worth the trip alone, no? See above.
Meanwhile, Northern Irish artist Jim McKee - who has lived in Co Clare for the last number of years - brings his show to Dolan's Upstairs venue tonight. The former boxer is also a talented painter, and his debut album Just A Piece Of, suggests he is worth checking out. Folk acoustic tunes, with an Irish twist.
Saving all of that, there is also Champions League on the box, but you probably knew that already.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Franz Ferdinand to play in Dolan's Warehouse

On The Beat can reveal that Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand are to play a one-off gig in Dolan's Warehouse on Saturday February 28.
In a major coup for the Dock Road venue, the band are to play just two dates in Ireland, one in Limerick, followed by one in the Olympia in Dublin the following Sunday night.
We understand that the close links between Kasabian and FF, and the fact that Dolan's have hosted the likes of Roisin Murphy and the Charlatans in recent times, were all factors in helping the venue secure what is - regardless of your preference for the band or not - undisputedly a massive gig for Limerick.
FF are to release their third studio album at the end of January, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the lead single from which - Ulysses - will be released on January 16.
You know the rest - they released their eponymous debut in 2004, which scooped them the Mercury Music Prize, and was widely lauded as one of the releases of the year. 2005's follow-up was not as enthusiastically received and lacked a little of the spark of the original, but still had its moments.
Tickets for the gig are priced at €35 including booking fee and are available from Dolans Pub and Ticketmaster outlets from 9.30am this Friday morning (at least that is what it says on the press release, probably should be 9am). I would imagine that you would want to move fairly fast to secure a ticket, and purchases are limited to four per person.
First ageing rockers Elton John and Rod Stewart, now indie-darlings Franz Ferdinand, who knows what might be next?

For more news, stay here and with the Limerick Leader.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Photos from the Belltable Sessions and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble gigs

David Hope


The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - on Cruises Street

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - in Trinity Rooms

Two (or three?) excellent gigs in the city on one night, beginning with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble playing an impromptu set on a deserted Cruises St early on Sunday evening. Chicago's finest really know how warm up a crowd and impressed with a superb set in the Clubhouse @ Trinity Rooms later in the evening. They have just signed a record deal with Damon Albarn's manager and will hopefully be back for a courtyard show next year (fingers crossed).
In between we caught sets from Richie McCoy, David Hope and Size2Shoes (all local artists) at the Belltable Sessions in the Red Cross Hall, the last montly gig this year. Unfortunately Cork band Armoured Bear cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Windings finished the night off, and we await the return of this rather delightful night early in the New Year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Super gig taking place tomorrow night, last of this year's Belltable Sessions.

Folk musician David Hope will get proceedings underway, followed by the harmonious O'Suilleabhain brothers in their Size2Shoes guise, who have an album ready for release. Steve Ryan of Giveamanakick fame performs as Windings after an excellent gig at the Body and Soul Arena of Electric Picnic, while Cork band Armoured Bear - responsible for one of the Irish albums of the year with Honeycomb Moons - headline the night.

All acts perform live, no mics, no speakers, just performance and music in the versatile Red Cross Hall. Check it out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Interview with Roisin Murphy - pre Dolan's gig

SHE’S Irish but you probably wouldn’t know it until you actually talk to her. It has taken nearly three weeks of wrangling to get to this point, but finally, Roisin Murphy is on the phone from somewhere in central Europe, gearing up to play a tour that includes a Belgian gig that has sold 8,000 tickets. It also includes a Tuesday night gig in Dolan’s Warehouse.Roisin could - and should - be one of the biggest pop stars this country has ever produced, so why don't we vociferously claim her as our own? The former lead singer of Moloko - which came together after she approached Mark Brydon with the line ‘do you like my tight sweater?’ - who had a string of top ten hits such as Sing It Back and The Time Is Now before going solo, hails from Arklow. Yes, that’s right, Arklow.

Yet, because she left Ireland when she was still a teenager, she seems to have escaped under the fence, a fact that high-profile British publications have noticed, who have attempted to claim her as their own. Safe to say then, she enjoys something of a love-hate relationship with the country of her birth.“It's a shame the Irish don't know as much about me as they do,” she says of the Belgians, who will gather en masse to see her perform in the coming week. “I'm delighted to have a couple of more dates in Ireland coming up, because I do feel like I have to pay my dues a bit, maybe I haven't spent as much time there playing live, and I know how much audiences appreciate and understand live music, so the more I can play there the better for my sake.”
Murphy is a playful character, one you are never sure is being quite serious or not. But in her strange, mixed-up accent, you can tell she is being serious when she refers to Ireland, where she owns a house and lives (“I just work everywhere else”).
After going solo from Moloko, Murphy released debut album Ruby Blue, but it was last year’s follow-up Overpowered that marked her out from the pack. More akin to a musical maverick than pop-princess, Overpowered was a triumph, the title track from which, in particular, was a dance-pop revelation, full of thumping bass lines and edgy vocals.Put together with dance impressarios such as Groove Armada’s Andy Cato, Jimmy Douglass, Richard X and Dean Homer - it marked a different way of working for the singer.
“It was a very different experience,” she says. “I've never worked in that way, with lots of different people on hand, different aspects of recording and production, because in Moloko and on Ruby Blue I only worked with one guy, that was everything done together. This time I could record a song in Miami and take it to Sheffield and go to New York and whatever - all options were open to me and it was a fantastic learning curve, it was fabulous.”
Murphy has said in the past that she is “consumed by the process” of making an album, and never completely satisfied. She still feels that way today.“Definitely yes,” she agrees. “I think anybody creative making anything would say that, if they really care about it. I am totally consumed by it, and this was particularly a heavy load of responsibility on me, more than any other record I'd made, because at the end of the day it was my call every time. Sometimes you worry, and you overworry, but I certainly think if I could make a record like that in that way again, I could certainly make it quicker and I wouldn't make as many mistakes again.”
Overpowered also marked Murphy’s first official release with monolith EMI, who apparently, so legend has it, signed her because she reminded them of Robbie Williams.“That is true,” she laughs. “They saw me play live and they thought I had something special, so that was when they really decided - we'd been talking about maybe doing something together and then they came to a gig, and they were like "oh god, she's like Robbie Williams live" - little did they know.”The obvious question begs to be asked, and Murphy is incredibly forthright about her current relationship with EMI.
“It's not great, I'll have to tell you that, and I don't know if it's going to go on in the future. That is part of the reason I haven't started the next record. I know that if I wanted to make another record with them I could, no problem. I know that if I wanted to make it with a record company, I could pretty much take a good pick, there are people interested in me.
EMI are really in a transitional period and they want to do everything differently, and I don't know anybody there anymore, and ideally they would let me go to be honest. I really don't know anyone, if I wanted to speak to someone there I wouldn't know who to ask for if I picked up the phone to call them today. So, the ideal thing is I'll go make a record some other way.”
That is not to say she didn’t enjoy the large budget she was given to make the record, and she pauses on that thought.“Well, I need money, because I like spending it,” she laughs. “I'm really good at spending money on videos, images and records. I really enjoyed spending their money I have to tell you. I shot four record sleeves in two days last year for the album and the three singles and the price of that was £125,000.
You know, I loved spending - hair, make-up, dresses, locations, whatever. I've had that with EMI but I don't know if they are going to offer me that again. If they don't and are not willing to do that I won't go forward with them and they will probably let me go, I hope, I doubt they will just sit on me and be bastards, because I worked my arse off for them for two years.”
In the meantime Roisin is touring and is promising a “show and a half” in Dolan’s. We recommend you buy tickets early. With that we attempt to sign off, and say we will see her when she comes to Limerick.“Oh will you please come and see me? I'm one of your own for crying out loud,” she laughs.
She is ours and we’re not letting her go.