Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Christmas from the Rubberbandits

On the Beat got abducted this week and brought on a tour of Limerick city by our very own Rubberbandits, rappers, prank callers, comic duo; funny f*ckers.
This was in response to my request for an interview about their upcoming Christmas Mystery Gig (Monday, December 28). Considering what they did to the reporter from Cork City's Campus FM, a guided tour of Limerick in a blacked out BMW jeep was almost luxurious.
Anyway, big interview with the boys in next Tuesday's Limerick Chronicle - a bumper Christmas edition to read over the holidays.. No excuses, go out and get it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview with Oppenheimer's Shaun Robinson

IT IS hard not to feel like a bad omen when two days after On the Beat interviews Shaun Robinson - singer and drummer with Belfast indie-electropop duo Oppenheimer - the band announce they are to “take to the stage together for the last time” next weekend.
This is after a very pleasant half hour interview with the amenable Robinson, during which he makes no mention of the band splitting up, except for a number of pointed allusions - at least they look that way now - to the fact that they will have to “see what happens in the future” with regard to touring and recording in 2010.
So, Oppenheimer - also made up of guitar/synth player Rocky O’Reilly - are to split, but at least are to play one of their final gigs in Baker Place this Thursday night, giving the gig an extra edge for those who attend.
The band formed over five years ago as a result of a mutual love for ‘Moog’ synthesizers, and have released two albums, their 2006 self-titled debut and their Choice Music Prize nominated follow-up, Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It, one of the albums of 2008 in our opinion. Their music was/is beguiling; an exuberant and sweet concoction of synths, guitars, backing tracks and drums - a high-energy sugar rush of electro, indie and pop music.
The strange thing is, the band are calling it a day after a national tour with Bell X1 and two American tours that saw them open for the Presidents of the United States of America and OK Go, while their music has featured on shows such as Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl.
They also toured for five months with They Might Be Giants in 2007 and 2008, but it now seems the strain of touring was too much for Robinson, as a message on the band’s website says “the level of commitment, passion and drive” he can give to the band has changed.
“Shaun has realized that in order to fulfil his hopes and dreams he needs to take a new and different path in his life,” reads the statement.
Speaking to On the Beat last week, an upbeat Robinson said the band had had “another good year”, despite the announcement that was to come just days later.
“Yeah we have. We had quite a busy and a bit of a strange year,” he explained. “We toured with the Presidents for about a month - they are a bunch of really nice people. I got married in April, I married an American girl and Rocky and our sound-man came over for the wedding and we hit the road straight after that - literally I had a two day honeymoon and then it was into the back of the van to drive up to Rhode Island,” he added.
Although the ramifications of this trip might be clearer now, Robinson said that his new wife quite enjoyed this novel honeymoon experience.
“She didn't mind, she actually joined us for the first couple of nights and then went back to New York while I stayed on the road. That was a fantastic tour and we got to play places that we never have before. We ticked another state off the list - so we have now travelled through 46 of the 48 continental states. We've kept ourselves busy.”
Looking back to their formation, Oppenheimer started off as a simple set up; two musicians and one computer, plus loads of backing tracks.
“We started off in a spare room in Rocky’s house with an old vintage synth, playing along to a crappy drum beat that we programmed,” laughed Shaun.
“We were both interested in making wacky noises, but over the years it has moved away from that; Rocky is a big fan of heavier rock music, so it has a harder edge now that we have gone out and toured so much. There is a lot more stomping on distortion pedals than there was in the beginning.”
Looking to the future, Robinson is less effusive, understandably so given the announcement that the duo are to go their separate ways.
“You know what, it is all in the future, we are just going to have to see what happens,” he said. “Who knows what tomorrow holds? Walt Disney might ring up and say we are going to use your song for the theme tune to our new movie - and Rocky and I will have a money fight on a Caribbean island,” he laughed.
Whatever about Walt Disney and the future for this twosome; Limerick audiences have a chance to see Oppenheimer in Baker Place this Thursday night, probably and unfortunately for the last time.
For more see here. Doors at 9pm this Thursday in Baker Place.

The Belltable Sessions return this Thursday

THE BELLTABLE Sessions returns this Thursday with a strong line-up of local acts, finishing off a superb year for the monthly acoustic gig.
Joining local rockers and headliners Last Days of Death Country are the eclectic local ensemble Noland Folk and guitar slinging troubadour Brian McNamara, formerly of Figment fame.
Last Days.. are not just a band with a great name and Cranberries’ Fergal Lawler helping out on recording duties; no, this band are genuinely worth getting excited about - a rock outfit boasting great melodies and rhythms.
Boasting four Limerick men among their ranks, this quartet offer something rare - they can flit from loud and heavy to soulful and tender in the blink of an eye, or the flick of a wrist from guitarist Dave O’Dowd.
Fellow Last Days men Patrick O’Brien (vocals, guitars), Rob Kelly (drums) and Gary Lysaght (bass) combine to form a tight and cohesive unit that are capable of belting out pulsating and aggressive sleazy-rock, dotted with melodies that are anything but saccharine.
"Moving melodic rock, which will leave you wanting more," is how the band have described themselves, but they would prefer to call it “alternative rock”.
“We are just four guys trying to make music that we enjoy more than anything else,” Patrick explained.
Also playing are Clare/Limerick ensemble Noland Folk, who are set to release their debut album ‘Ghosts Light The Scene’ this week. The predominantly Clare based group are well known in local circles having played here on and off over the last few years, and there rollicking, sea-shanty brand of Irish folk is well worth checking out.
Finally, former Figment frontman Brian McNamara makes a return to the local music scene this Thursday and will be debuting some of his own new material.
The all acoustic Belltable Sessions takes place this Thursday night at 8pm.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Nick Carswell and the Elective Orchestra in Desmond Castle tonight

THE Frames’ violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire will perform tracks from his superb solo album in the Desmond Castle, Newcastle West this Friday night, with support from Limerick’s own Nick Carswell and the Elective Orchestra.

Mac Con Iomaire released one of the album’s of last year in ‘The Hare’s Corner’, an uplifting - and at times haunting - collection of instrumental songs, driven by his maestro-like violin playing.

As a member of The Frames spin-off The Swell Season, Mac Con Iomaire has shared in the immense success the group have experienced since Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won an Oscar in 2008.

The Desmond Castle will play host to the Dublin violinist this Friday night, while Nick Carswell and his band the Elective Orchestra will support.

The Elective Orchestra boast a superb string section of their own in Deirdre and Kate Cussen, two highly proficient players who add a sweeping instrumentation to Carswell’s tunes.

Paul McLoone has been plugging this Limerick band of late, and they will also appear at a special St. Stephen’s Day gig in Dolan’s Warehouse with the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra.

Colm Mac Con Iomaire, with support from Nick Carswell and the Elective Orchestra, play in the Desmond Castle this Friday night, doors 8pm.

Size2Shoes in the Belltable tonight

THE profile of local band Size2Shoes is expanding before our very eyes, with the O Súilleabhin brothers starting to become very well-known indeed by the outside world. They return to Limerick this Friday for a second gig in a little under a month, but by way of contrast, these are the first gigs that they have played in their home town since March, coming off the back of a very successful national album roll-out in early November.
Messrs. Russell Crowe and Steven Spielberg have become confirmed fans, the former praising the “inspired mastery of their harmonies” and the “streetwise intellectof their humours”. Size2Shoes are to travel to Australia next year to record in Crowe’s studio.
Plenty of gigs around the country,plus recent radio and television appearances and strong word of mouth - in particular - about their superb live performances, has seen a deserved rise in profile for Eoin and Moley (Mícheál) and their uplifting form of folk-pop.The duo recently performed with The Chieftains at the University Concert Hall, performing with the seminal band for “Teddy Bears Picnic”and taking control of the stage to perform one of their own tracks,“Take It Easy”.
Size2Shoes best selling point is that they can combine rap, vocal percussion and exquisite guitar playing with either their own original music or other classic tracks, yet still keep that distinctive Irishness that many acts run away from.
Moley told the Limerick Chroniclerecently that he “started to write songs quite late - I was sixteen or so- and so did Eoin, so we were always careful about what we did and we didn’t want to sound like anybody else.
Simply put, he added that the duo“just wanted to create something that was great fun and uplifting”.
This they have done and a couple of hours in their company will leave you smiling from ear to ear, the perfect antidote to the ever-prevalent doom and gloom out there.
Size2Shoes play the Belltable this Friday night, doors 8.30pm. For tickets contact 061-319866.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Choke Comedy tonight in the Belltable


THE RATHER excellent comedy improv troupe ‘Choke Comedy’ return to the Belltable this Wednesday for another night of hilarious sketch comedy.

Formed just a year ago, the various locally based cast members have knitted well the more they perform together and if you like your comedy fast-paced, loose and exciting, this is the show for you.

Winners of the Special Judges' Award at the UnFringed Festival, the troupe features local thespian Myles Breen, actress Norma Lowney, Ann Blake of the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra along with Tracy Aspel, Charlie Cassie, Susan Holland and Jerry O’Mullane.

Asked how the cast have managed to combine to form a show that is driven by audience participation and resembles the madcap comic genius of tv show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Myles Breen is forthright.

“It's like being an athlete - you have to train your brain to think that way,” he says.

“With improv you have to let go of any ideas that it should go 'this way' or 'that way', because it is unrehearsed and made-up on the spur of the moment. The whole idea is responding right in the moment and going with whatever is presented to you by an audience member or another performer.”

The strength of this - take it from us - hilarious show, is not so much in the individual strengths of the ensemble cast who are undoubtedly masters of their craft, but rather in the way that they gel together and feed off one another.

No-one is offered any comfort and every slip-up is pounced upon mercilessly, often making this as funny as the improv material itself. “The acting is part of the skill, but we all sort of complement each other,” Myles agrees.

See Choke Comedy in the Belltable @ 36 Cecil Street this Wednesday, December 9, at 8pm.

Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits


Foo Fighters
‘Greatest Hits’
(Sony)
LONG BEFORE he was hanging around with Led Zep’s John Paul Jones and best buddy Josh Homme, Dave Grohl was an angry tub thumper with a little band called Nirvana, his incessant drumming raising the level of that band tenfold when he joined in 1990.
Four years later Kurt Cobain was lying in his garden shed with his shotgun, and Grohl was left bandless and aimless. He has certainly made up for that in the intervening period, driving the Foo Fighters to millions of album sales worldwide and recording six albums, as well being involved in Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age, plus side-project Probot and double-jobbing with the likes of Tenacious D, Nine Inch Nails, and latterly, Them Crooked Vultures.
The span of songs on this 16 track greatest hits covers most of the Foo’s six albums, with two new songs, Wheels and Word Forward, plus an acoustic version of Everlong - which appears on the album in both electric and acoustic form. Of these new tracks, Word Forward is the more impressive, Grohl using his trademark growl to remind listeners that the band still have that urgency that characterised their earlier hits, despite the fact that the Foo Fighters have been on “hiatus” since 2007.
That said, first single Wheels contains an engaging guitar line that is also classic Foo Fighters, Grohl demonstrating his melodic powers in spades on the track.
The Foo Fighters have always been better when tuned down and at their most relaxed, as demonstrated here by the Metallica-esque The Prentender, the earnest Best of You and the aforementioned rhythm of Everlong.
Some of this, like Learn To Fly, ranks among a category dismissed as soft-core rock and you wonder what Cobain might have made of Grohl’s later output.
However, this should not take anything away from the quality of such a track, and it is at this level that the Foo Fighters are at their peak; All My Life, Learn to Fly and Times Like These notable standouts.
Grohl was writing all the time he was with Nirvana, but was not eager to share his tracks with Cobain and Novoselic, a b-side here and a guitar riff there aside. Novoselic and Grohl did play around with ‘Big Me’ in the absence of Cobain shortly before the end, and it appears here - an almost countrified guitar line complementing Grohl’s sweet vocal - ‘but it’s you, I fell into’.
It is simply mind-boggling how many of these hits are familiar and recognisable, and it is testament to Grohl that - side-projects aside - he has spent the decade after his time with Nirvana making mainstream radio-friendly, rock anthems that are as intelligent as they are memorable.
RATING 4/5

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tommy Tiernan's "World Tour of Limerick" in January

CONTROVERSIAL comedian Tommy Tiernan is to play eight gigs in Limerick city and county over a ten day period in January, On the Beat can reveal.
The Navan funny-man is perform a “World Tour of Limerick” in the new year, which will include dates in the Strand Hotel, Thomond Park, St. John’s Church and Dolan’s Warehouse.
Tiernan will also perform in the recently opened Southill Area Centre, which was opened recently by President Mary McAleese.
The comedian will perform three dates in Limerick county, in Adare’s Woodlands Hotel, the Devon Hotel Inn in Templeglantine and Bulgaden Castle, Kilmallock.
Tiernan caused some controversy with remarks at this summer’s Electric Picnic festival that were viewed as anti-semitic by some. He later said he had not meant to cause offence with his so-called “Holocaust-rant”.
Controversy aside, the news that Ireland’s top comedian is to perform for an extended period in the city will come as welcome news for venue owners and promoters, given that January is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year.
The Strand Hotel gig will be a 600-seater affair, while the Thomond Park date will see 500 tickets on sale.
Tickets will be priced at €25, but will be cheaper for the Southill Area Centre gig, going on sale at just €10.
Tiernan recently broken the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous solo show by a comedian and performed sell out runs at the Montreal 'Just For Laughs' and Galway Arts Festivals.
The comedian has released seven multi-platinum selling DVDs and remains one of the most popular acts in the country.
Tickets for the gigs went on sale this Monday from Ticketmaster and the venues themselves.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jenny Huston - 'In Bloom' Irish Bands Now


WITH a rush of books appearing for the saturated Christmas market, 2FM DJ Jenny Huston’s ‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now’, stands out from the glut.

The Canadian-born music supremo has attempted to chronicle the heaving Irish music scene she has called home for 13 years, in her new book, and fares admirably well in this compelling and attractive tome.

Everything you ever wanted to know about your favourite Irish band - 15 in all - is included here, with all offering up an honest appraisal of their careers and where they see the industry going.

There is also a profile of up and coming bands, called the Hotlist, including a nod for Limerick’s own Giveamanakick, who sadly recently announced their intention to go their separate ways.

Huston explains that she got the idea for the book after being approached by the publishers, Currach Press, who wanted to do something about emerging Irish bands.

"They asked if I had considered writing a book on emerging Irish artists and the proposition of it excited me,” says the engaging Huston. “I'm not a journalist, I wasn't sure if I was the right person to do it, but more and more people kept saying to me, ‘what's happening with Bell X1’, to which I responded that they have just done four tours of North America and played Letterman twice.

"I realised that there just seemed to be a gap in information between the bands that are doing international work and for some reason no-one seems to know how well they are doing, so I felt the need to brag about them,” she laughs.

This is an admirably complete analysis of a well-stocked Irish music scene, from Bell X1 to Villagers, and while a couple of names are not included, there was simply no way Huston could have included all, a testament to the busy Irish scene.

Interestingly, most of the bands eschew their standard press interview-speak for an honest appraisal of themselves and their business, a fact Huston clearly feels proud of.

“What was nice about this was that there was a really relaxed atmosphere and they didn't have their press hats on - I think once they realised I wasn't doing a critique of their music and it wasn't going to be a critical piece on bands, that I really wanted to tell their story in their own words, then people were amazingly honest and forthcoming,” she says.

A brutal foreword from Glen Hansard sets the tone for the book, as he recounts his experiences with major labels and the pressure brought to bear in The Frames’ early career. Equally frank admissions follow from Richie Egan and Bell X1, and, for any younger bands out there, make for standard reading on what to avoid in their own careers.

“They pass on an awful lot of advice and certainly any band at any level would pick up an awful lot from them. The industry is changing so rapidly that it is interesting to hear how each band decides to approach it and everyone has revealed something different, and I have actually learnt a lot myself (from this),” she says.

As a knowledgeable DJ, Huston is well aware of the leading lights of the Limerick music scene, which she pays homage to as we speak. Chief among her favourites are rocking Giveamanakick duo Steve Ryan and Keith Lawler, who are unfortunately about to split up after a national tour.

“I was gutted to hear that because they have had an amazing start to 2009 and I am a big fan of the guys, I think they are amazing,” she glows. “They are proper rock and roll, their gigs are like a sonic assault and for them, it sounds like they left on a high and I'm happy they can do that.

"GAMAK were cool and they were so positive about the scene that they emerged from in Limerick and Limerick had such a healthy gig scene when they started out, it was amazing. Jamin (O’Donovan from Fred, who are also included) is from Limerick and so are We Should Be Dead, who are doing really well in the States as well, which is great.”

“That is the thing, and I realised it as soon as I started the book, that I didn't even know if I should do a Hotlist because there were so many bands to include, and we only had a finite number of pages - I'll have to get working on a follow-up,” she laughs.

‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now” - is out now in all good bookshops. For further details see here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paul McCartney - Good Evening New York City

Paul McCartney
‘Good Evening New York City’
(Mercury Records)

PAUL MCCARTNEY is back with his sixth solo album - eighth if you include and “official” bootleg and Wings Over America - the first ever concert recorded in the brand new Citi Field stadium in Queens, New York, opposite Shea Stadium. The latter memorably played host to one of the most famous Beatles’ concerts of their day 44 years ago, when 55,000 fans broke attendance records of the day to see the Fab Four.
On that occasion, the Beatles played for just half an hour and couldn’t hear themselves over the screaming fans that eventually led them to lock themselves away for the latter stages of their career.
On this occasion however, McCartney played for well over two hours, clocking 33 tracks and, while the screams can be heard, so too can McCartney.
And that fact is the most immediately apparent about this live album; you can hear Macca sing, and boy can he still hold a note.
From the opening buzz of ‘Drive My Car’, it is clear that McCartney has still got it, and then some.
He delves into his own Wings/solo back catalogue more often than not on the first of this two CD collection; interestingly ‘Jet’, from the Wings’ Band on the Run album, takes track two in this set-list, as it did on McCartney’s 2003 ‘Back in the World’ live album.
But the sound is all important here, and drastically improves on that previous live album.
McCartney’s voice sounds warm and full, rarely if ever cracking, while his superb band easily recreate some of that old Beatles magic, which indeed makes up more than half of the tracks on offer here.
A soaring ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is the pick of the tracks on the first CD, while a thumping ‘Back in the USSR’ opens CD two.
In fact, track two of the second CD, ‘I’m Down’ - first released as a B-side to ‘Help’ - also formed part of the Beatles setlist in Shea Stadium in 1965. On that occasion, Lennon played the keyboard with his elbows while his bandmates laughed at the ridiculousness of not being able to hear a single note that they played.
A previously unresurrected ‘Day Tripper’ and McCartney singing both vocals on the seminal ‘Day in the Life’ are show stopping moments, as is a Billy Joel duet on the bouncy ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.
McCartney finishes with ‘Sgt Peppers/The End’, as he did on his previous live album, but there is an added poignancy to the screams that rapturously receive the closing tracks here.

RATING 4/5

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Unwrap your 'Christmas Presence' in Daghdha in December

DECEMBER is to kick off with a weekend of superb live music and comedy in the atmospheric surroundings of Daghdha Space, St. John’s Church, as Eightball.ie present ‘Christmas Presence’. The local promoters have assembled an eclectic and exciting line-up for the first weekend in December, featuring high-profile comedian Andrew Maxwell, Irish troubadour Damien Dempsey and the Limerick-leg of Today FM DJ Donal Dineen’s ‘Fresh Air Festival’, featuring Katie Kim.
Mr Maxwell gets proceedings underway on Friday, December 4, with support from Limerick’s own Karl Spain, who recently hosted his own RTE tv show. Maxwell is best known in Ireland through his weekly appearances on ‘The Panel’, and now lives in London and is a regular on UK TV including guest slots on ‘Have I Got News For You’, ‘Argumental’ and ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks.’
On Saturday night, Dubliner Damien Dempsey comes to Limerick as part of his first solo Irish tour in six years to headline the Christmas Presence weekender. Dempsey, a two-time Meteor Award winner in recent years, is something of a beat poet for modern times, a social commentator chronicling life in his hometown, and more recently, putting his own slant on old traditional favourites on his ‘Rocky Road’ album. In a live setting the statuesque Dempsey is a sight to behold, and his recent live DVD went to the top of the charts in its first week of release.
Finally, DJ Donal Dineen returns to Limerick as part of his month long gig-series around Ireland - which only consists of three dates outside Dublin, and will conclude in Limerick on the Sunday night, December 6. Dineen has hosted a number of Irish and international musicians on his nightly radio show on Today FM, allowing them to curate and play their own music and their favourite tunes. Taking this show on the road, Dineen is joined by Waterford’s Katie Kim, who released critically acclaimed debut album ‘Twelve’ last year.
Joining Kim and Dineen on the night will be Scottish musician James Yorkston, making a rare Irish appearance.
Daghdha Space - St. John’s Church - has proved itself to be an exciting and versatile venue, playing host to Oscar winners The Swell Season and Lisa Hannigan in the last 12 months. A cosy but exceptional space with superb acoustics, the church seats in the region of 250 plus and is one of the best venues in the city. ‘Christmas Presence’ takes place on December 4,5,6. Tickets are on sale now and are available from the UCH box office on 061-331549 and from or www.uch.ie. Full information on www.eightball.ie.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview with Ardal O'Hanlon


TO ARDAL O’Hanlon, comedy is not just a job, it is a calling, more specifically, a vocation.
While familiar to millions as the rather dim-witted Fr Dougal McGuire from Channel 4 tv series Fr Ted, stand-up comedy has always been a secure base for the rather cerebral Carrickmacross man, despite his adventures in 'tellyland'.
He realised in his teens, as a rather withdrawn young man, that comedy and the expression of his humour was something he wanted to pursue, a goal that was realised in the late 80s when he set up the Comedy Cellar in the International Bar in Dublin with fellow comedians Barry Murphy and Kevin Gildea.
Since then he has consistently returned to the stage to challenge, one feels, both himself and his audience, to hone his craft to a fine edge.
“Absolutely, I do,” says O’Hanlon when asked if he still enjoys performing live stand-up.
“It is a thing I have always gone back to, even when you are off doing tv shows or other projects that take a lot of time - I always got back to stand-up as soon as I could really, because it is the day to day stuff, the stuff you think about every day,” he explains further.
Despite having a new RTE tv show to plug - Val Falvey TD, which started last Sunday night - O’Hanlon seems more keen to discuss the intricacies of his primary art, which will take him to the Last Laugh comedy series in Trinity Rooms this Thursday night.
“Stand-up is very personal, it is about yourself and it is egotistical whereas television is very collaborative (and) it is really enjoyable because it is very sociable, that is the main difference. I am delighted to have the opportunity to do both.”
He continues: “I suppose I have put together a sort of a state of the nation rant at the moment and it is all very well doing it at home and shouting at your children but you need to do it front of real people at some stage, so that is what I'm at.
My instinct would be to reduce everything to a joke, rather than waffle on about things, I do try and reduce things to a pithy one-liner.
Stand-up, if it is working correctly, is your version of events, it is your take on the world and the people around you - in the course of a full show you might go through hundreds of subjects but it mostly comes back to the same thing, the state we are in.
It is all very well pointing the finger at bankers and government, but what I think is funny and more timeless is to actually talk about our mentality - who we are and where are we going? I think that is useful and very promising material which I think people respond to and are interested in.”
Ardal has in the past expressed discomfort at those that appear at his shows expecting Fr Dougal, but several minutes in his company are enough to demonstrate that he is far removed from his more famous persona.
But he doesn’t shy away from the legacy, recognising that it kick-started his career.
“Oh definitely and it was great. Things were very grim in the late 80s when I started out in Dublin, you couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel, it was something that was enjoyable and kept you busy from day to day, but there didn't seem to be any possibility of making a living from it or going anywhere.
So I went off to London and not too long after that I did get that fantastic break in Fr Ted, which did change everything over night, I suppose,” he says.
Expressing himself through his “rants” on stage is also crucial to his mental state, he explains to much laughter on both our parts.
“You see the world through this type of comic prism, and it is a way of staying sane, otherwise you would think about things too much and you'd go a little bit mad,” he says, adding: “This is not just a job, it is a type of vocation”.
Ardal O’Hanlon appears at the Last Laugh Comedy Club in Trinty Rooms nightclub this Thursday night, with Gearoid Farelly. Doors 7.30pm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brainfeeder's first lady Tokimonsta in the Cuckoo Box this Saturday

THE LA-based Brainfeeder family's first lady Tokimonsta makes a very rare and special appearance in Limerick this Saturday night, as the guest of local crew's Cheebah/Kerrynini. Brainfeeder is also home to Daedelus, The Gaslamp Killer, Onra and more, so we expect Ms Tokimonsta to be something special..

Cheebah's Peter Curtin gave us the heads up on this one, in his words:
"Born and raised in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) was an unfocused pupil of classical piano.
However, she has come to use this background to understand and create vast soundscapes and textures through the usage of live instruments, percussion, digital manipulation, and dusty vinyls.
Through the creation of beats, she is able to fuse the sounds of the past with her musical prowess into something avant garde—all while preserving old school vibes.
Yeah, and she's got mad dope records coming on All City and Brainfeeder, played the Low End Theory and just got selected for the Red Bull Music Academy 2010. Job."

For more see here and there's a podcast with the first lady herself here.

Tokimonsta plays in the Cuckoo Box this Saturday night, no doubt along with a few of the aforementioned crews. It is also FREE, so there is no excuse for going. Starts around 9pm..

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Revenger's Tragedy in the Belltable

FANCY some blood and lust with a healthy dash of murder? No it’s not Quentin Tarantino, but you’re not far off.
Continuing this week in the Belltable is the Bottom Dog produced play, the Revenger’s Tragedy, the fourth play produced by the Limerick Theatre Hub.
Adapted from Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean classic text by local playwright Mike Finn, directed by Myles Breen and starring former Emmerdale actor Liam O’Brien, this piece is dripping with murder, a tragic comedy you can really get your teeth into.
The play deals with the return of ‘Vinnie’, hell bent on avenging the death of his girlfriend at the hands of the notorious Duke - played by Killinaskully’s Pascal Scott - and if it sounds like a Guy Ritchie movie, mixed with Shakespeare and moulded by Martin McDonagh, you are probably on the right track.
“I was attracted to the play originally because I just loved the title and when I read it I decided it would be fun to do an adaptation of it,” says Mike Finn.
“It is a good old fashioned play, a Jacobean revenge tragedy, and it is full of blood, lust, incest, murder - so I thought it would be interesting to do a modern take on it, because unfortunately those things are very close to us.
“One of the things we discovered about it as we went along is that it is a tragedy as the title would suggest, but we have realised that it is hilarious, sort of a black comedy. There are some real elements of farce - it is quite black, almost like a bedroom farce but with knives. It is quite mad.”
The cast is also made up of superb actress Gene Rooney, Aidan Crowe, Dorothy Cotter and Pat Ryan, with an original - and dark - score, written by Giveamanakick’s Steve Ryan.
The setting promises to be superb, utilising the versatile space of Red Cross Hall, and this play is ambitious in its scope - a fact not lost on Finn.
“It is big and ambitious and is the biggest one in terms of scale of the four, so if it fails it will be spectacular, but I would like to think the audience will come out and even if they don't think it is the greatest play in the world, they will know they have been spoken to.”
The Revenger’s Tragedy runs in the Belltable until November 24. For bookings contact 061-319866.

Size2Shoes album review and gig this Saturday

Size2Shoes
‘Size2Shoes’
(Self released)

THE SONS of world famous Irish composer Professor Mícheál O'Súilleabháin and spiritual singer Nóirín Ní Riain were always bound to have musical talent in spades, but Eoin and Mícheál O'Súilleabháin, performing under the name Size2Shoes, certainly have the potential to stand out on their own merits.
Although they launched their debut album locally several months ago, they are only now rolling it out on a national basis.
In doing so, and with the benefit of regular gigs around the country, this musical duo have reached a level of maturity with an act they have been plugging around Limerick for several years.
The evolution of Size2Shoes has been steady, moving from raw, humorous and over-the-top double act, to polished, still humorous over-the-top double act, but yet they have perfected the art of peppering both their recordings and live performances with equal dashes of musical comedy and spine-tingling moments of clarity, when the audience/listener is forced to sit in rapt attention.
The album contains a few gems, notably the upbeat opener Take it Easy, the graceful Light in the Dark and the title track Size2Shoes. A delightful reworking of traditional favourite The Parting Glass is also superb.
The duo combine elements of Simon and Garfunkel, dashes of the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles with a distinct Irishness, indeed a sense of being from Limerick, which merely adds to their appeal.
Mícheál - better known as Moley - holds a MA in Rap Performance and rap, hip-hop and his significant beatboxing abilities make regular appearances throughout the album; this ability, coupled with the brothers’ entwining and often mesmerising vocals, being their secret weapons. Where others have failed to entrap the energy that comes from live gigs in the studio - the brothers have largely succeeded.
Their endearing nature can tend to become ever so slightly cloying and they could do with developing a slightly harder edge but, to the most part, this album succeeds with what it sets out to do.
We look forward to their next album and to the further development of this most musical of local acts.
RATING 3/5

* Size2Shoes play in Shannon Rowing Club this Saturday night, November 21, doors 9pm.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back in the USSR


Apologies for the lack of material here recently, back in the office after two weeks on the West Coast of the USA. Finished in Vegas, where among other things, I went to the see the Beatles/Cirque du Soleil 'Love' show in the Mirage. Wow. More to follow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Wailers return to Limerick

THROUGH death, legal battles, 250 million album sales and the acrimony that brings, the surviving member of Bob Marley’s original Wailers group is still touring, continuing to further the legacy of the reggae innovators.
This Thursday night The Wailers return to Limerick following a superb gig earlier in the year, plus a towering performance on the main stage at Electric Picnic in September.
Centred around Aston “Family Man” Barrett - reckoned to be one of the world’s finest bass players - this is the seminal Wailers line-up, not to be confused with other imitations.
Barrett and his deceased brother Carly, along with Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh made up The Wailers, and Barrett is continuing to perpetuate that mantle 40 years later.
Family Man and lead singer Elan Atias form the main axis of the current Wailers line-up, Atias sounding uncannily like Marley when the band visited Dolan’s in February and performed the seminal ‘Exodus’ album in full, Time magazine’s album of the 20th Century.
Atias was recruited in 1997 by former Wailers’ guitarist Al Anderson, who, together with Junior Marvin, also perform as the Wailers, but are described as a “rogue” band by Atias.
“There’s this rogue band that’s been going around saying they’re ‘The Original Wailers’ and they’re basically a cover band (with) guitarists that used to be in the band.
They’re going around saying they’re us, which is pretty funny,” Atias said in a recent interview. While Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the band in 1973, Family Man was ever present with Marley up to his death, to the point that he sued Marley's estate a couple of years ago, citing a right to royalties he was promised but never got.
He was unsuccessful in that bid, but together with new heir Atias, is preparing to release a new album under the Wailers title, featuring previously unused recordings by his drummer brother, Carly, discovered after his death.
“Family had a bunch of tapes of drum tracks made by his brother, Carly, before he died, “ said Atias.
“We started all these new tracks from them and then Family would lay down the bass and everybody would do their stuff.
“The whole idea is to bring the tracks to contemporary artists and other big artists from different genres to add their own vibes and write new lyrics to sing on top of this classic, Wailers-sounding material.”
The Wailers play in Dolan's Warehouse this Thursday night, doors 9pm. Support on the night comes from the local Roots Factory crew - get down early, bbq will kick the night off..


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Album reviews - Swell Season and Miike Snow


The Swell Season
‘Strict Joy’
(Plateau)

THE ACCOMPANYING press notes with this album reveal it as documenting a time of “great change, tumult and progression”.
Given that Oscar winning duo Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova reached such highs and bottomed out to a point where their relationship buckled under the strain of its intensity, that might just be the understatement of the year.
Interestingly the duo remain friends and have produced a delightful record that echoes elements of that strain and break-up but does not focus on it, produced by Peter Katis, who has worked with The National and Interpol, an ideal background, one feels, for this project.
This is, for all intents and purposes, a Frames record, the likes of which we haven’t heard since seminal offerings Dance the Devil and For The Birds; with the addition of Irglova’s effortlessly gorgeous vocals and warmth, the perfect foil to Hansard’s sometime glum nature.
The delightful ‘In These Arms’ is an early highlight, the Czech ingénue’s piano twisting delicately and intricately among the Frames (almost all of them are here, so why not refer to them as such) moody brand of Irish rock.
‘The Rain’ is superb; Colm MacCon Iomaire’s goosebump-inducing violin screeching in the background, the song building to a soaring finish that recent albums Burn The Maps and The Cost never reached for the Irish band.
Irglova takes over on ‘Fantasy Man’, a lovely ditty of a song that evokes her memorable walk through the streets in Once singing “If You Want Me”.
The highlights come thick and fast as the album progresses; the bassy, up tempo High Horses stopping abruptly on the line “we’ve gone as far as we can go”, violin holding the note in anticipation; the epic ‘I Have Loved You Wrong’ burnishing with emotion; the banjo-driven ‘Love That Conquers’ evocative of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s ever-so gently countrified offerings; the gloriously downbeat ‘Back Broke’ finishing the album - “back broke and happy; cause you’re nearer to me” - in wonderful style.
A wonderful album, probably - and unfortunately - made better by the heartbreak suffered in its making. Fabulous.
RATING 4/5



Miike Snow
‘Miike Snow’
(Downtown Records)
THE DELIGHTFULLY bouncy electro-pop of opener ‘Animal’ on this album from Miike Snow is a good yardstick of the gems contained within; fizzy, euphoric and ever so-slightly Caribbean in flavour.
However, the warmth of this opening track is gradually replicated by an icy demeanour and aloofness throughout this record from Grammy-winning Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg who have teamed up with Brooklyn vocalist Andrew Wyatt to produce a record that screams of potential but falls somewhat short.
Capturing some of the melody of Vampire Weekend and wrapping it - or softening it - in subtle, gentle electro-pop rhythms was a genius idea from Karlsson and Winnberg, also known as ‘Bloodshy and Avant’, the team who produced Britney Spears’ Toxic and others for Madonna etc. Unfortunately, after the heights of Animal and the exceptional, soaring ‘Burial’, they seem to withdraw into their shells as the album progresses.
The electro-house beat of ‘Silvia’ is a case in point; well crafted and a delightful mix of piano and swirling beats, yet it is icy and opaque, lacking any connection with the listener.
Likewise the deep, atmospheric Prince-esque ‘Sans Soleil’, the ueber-dancy A Horse is Not a Home and the shimmering - yet soulless - new wave leanings of Plastic Jungle.
All of the above feel like an opportunity to blow the socks off the listener, albeit a failed one. The record is rescued by the aforementioned highlights, plus the off-kilter and energetic buzz of Black and Blue and the Passion Pit beat of Cult Logic - but it seems that these super-producers missed an opportunity to step out from the shadow of the mixing desk and leave themselves out there - thus making a record that narrowly fails to to meet its potential.
RATING 3/5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Hudah of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble


LIKE MANY people, when I saw the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. Nine guys, all from Chicago, touting battered brass instruments - tubas, trombones, trumpets - swaying and swinging as they performed their unique brand of tight, highly composed hip-hop/jazz instrumentalism.
Standing on a cold December day on Cruises Street last year, where 20-30 people gathered to see Barack Obama’s favourite band perform a taster before the Trinity Rooms gig that would come later, it became plain that their moniker is no fallacy - their playing very much hypnotic, as the name suggests.
Is this the most unique band in the world today?
The success the band has had in the last year would imply that they are; the eight sons of legendary Chicago jazz trumpeter and Sun Ra Arkestra founder member Kelan Phil Cohran, plus drummer Christopher Anderson, supporting and playing with Blur at Hyde Park in July, as well as Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, appearing on Jools Holland and releasing their debut album on Albarn’s record label.
Success and plaudits aside, to see these musicians perform live is to be literally hypnotised, an aura of telepathy surrounding them, a fact that Gabriel Hubert - aka ‘Hudah’ - puts down to the fact that they grew up living and breathing music.
We enjoy creating music - you have to fun, that is not the main element, but it helps,” says Hudah, on the phone from a Glaswegian hotel.
“The thing that makes our sound so unique is that we have been playing together since we were kids. We have been hearing these notes since before we were born. Our sound is more of a cosmic and spiritual connection than a physical connection - it almost can't be put into words, because it is bigger than our personal egos and feelings,” he adds.
The band are returning to Limerick this Sunday night for a very special early gig in Trinity Rooms, a pitstop on a whirlwind tour that is indicative of their growing popularity.
“In the last 20 days we have been in South Africa, Japan, Turkey, now we're in Scotland and then coming to Ireland,” says Hudah.
“We love coming to Ireland, it is a non stop party country, the people are very honest and true, you wear your hearts and souls on your sleeves and you receive that energy when you get there. The reception for us in Ireland has always been great and it can only grow. The more and more we come out the bigger the buzz grows.”
Asked what it is about the band that has seen them grow in popularity, the trumpeter is confident in his response.
“Overall we have a unique sound, style and brand and are a unique entity that grabs people when they don't want to be touched, it is something that you can't refuse. If you listen for two seconds, you are there until we let you go.
“We come from a strong family and our father taught us to believe in ourselves and knowing that it is something that only you can bring to the world, we have that sense definitely in our music, our approach to business, in every endeavour in our life.”
He adds: “We sacrifice a lot so that we can get our music out there, so we can be on top of the world at some time”.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play this Sunday night in Trinity Rooms nightclub, please note that this is an early show and doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or directly from the Trinity Rooms.

Album reviews - Shakira and Seasick Steve


Shakira
‘She Wolf’
(Sony Epic)
BEGINNING and ending an album with the same song, albeit in two different languages, is never a sign of a quality offering, and despite the opportunities I afforded this album to disprove my initial scepticism about it, well, suffice to say there was no ‘eureka’ moments on offer here.
Why someone would choose to name their album ‘She Wolf’ is beyond me, but maybe it was to allow the undoubtedly talented Shakira to demonstrate her embarrassing howl, which she does - several times, and in both languages.
This aside, the title track ain’t necessarily a bad offering, the jaunty guitar and heavy synth beat like a cross between the Gossip and CSS, the latter whom Shakira has mercilessly plundered, but it is the slick production and heavy orchestration that saves it from total ignominy. Unfortunately, proceedings peak at this point and rarely make much of an impression beyond that. Ok, the rat-tat beat of Did It Again, the Caribbean flavourings of Good Stuff, the faintly euphoric dance beats of Men In This Town and the tabla percussion and sitar-heavy Gypsy are clearly not the worst songs ever written - but that is probably all that could be said about them. Hilarity prevails when the ubiquitous Wyclef Jean turns up on the awful Spy, featuring the most blatant rip-off of the guitar hook from Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop we have ever heard - the poor man must be rolling in his grave.
The anodyne rock beat of Mon Amour is laughable and the aforementioned final track, in which Shakira sings She-Wolf in Spanish as ‘Loba’, complete with howls, is side-splittingly funny, as are much of the lyrics on this bizarre album. I’m being kind with two stars, clearly because Shakira sounds like she is on the verge of laughing her way through most of this album and is not taking herself too seriously. Worth a listen.
RATING 2/5
Seasick Steve
‘Man From Another Time’
(Warner)
YOU might have thought that the hobo-chic effortlessly practiced by Mr ‘Seasick’ Steve Wold would be wearing thin by this, his fourth album.
A self-declared “song and dance man”, Wold has carved out a decent career for himself on the strength of his hobo-blues, which draw heavily on his life experiences and utilise the most rag tag collection of instruments this side of the Mississippi.
Thankfully, the follow up to ‘I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left’ is excellent; Wold refusing to let the momentum drop from a meteoric rise in popularity that began with a by-now famed appearance on Jools Holland several years ago.
Festival appearances, tons of kudos and mucho album sales later and Wold is still singing about the everyday; his ‘Diddley Bo’, essentially a plank of wood with a coke can and a steel string, modelled in a lap-steel guitar-style, to which the opening track is devoted, sounding like Led Zeppelin covered in a broody Deep South batter and some superb drumming; ‘Big Green and Yeller’ in which Wold sings about a John Deere tractor; and the raw ‘Happy (To Have a Job)’ which is perhaps the most autobiographical song ever written - “I can’t stop what I’m doing, it’d be the death of me”.
The interesting thing about this album is that Wold takes the bulk of the songs down a notch or two and allows his impressive musicianship to come to the fore; the effortless strum of the ‘Banjo Song’ hears Wold croak and allow his voice to creak, uncaring how it sounds.
It is the truly superb ‘That’s All’ that is the centrepiece of this rich new vein of form Wold is demonstrating, the tongue-in-cheek sassiness of his earlier offerings replaced by an earnestness that is admirable.
He allows himself to cut loose, the chorus showing he can reach the high notes, while the song grooves along in a skiffle beat, Wold almost Cobain-esque in his drawl, “I wanna fly like a bird over these walls / never to be heard from again”.
Superb. RATING 4/5

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pink to play in Thomond Park next June

THE LIMERICK Leader can exclusively reveal that American superstar singer Pink is to play in Thomond Park in June of next year.
Pink - real name Alecia Beth Moore - has sold in the region of 30 million albums worldwide and is the first act to be confirmed for next summer’s gigs in the €40m stadium.
The American singer will bring her theatrical ‘Funhouse Summer Carnival’ show to Limerick’s Thomond Park on Saturday, June 20 2010.
Aiken Promotions confirmed to the Limerick Leader that the self styled rock chick will perform a huge outdoor show in Thomond Park next June, and while a spokesperson denied that there were other acts already booked for next summer, the Limerick Leader understands that up to four dates have been provisionally booked in the stadium, which memorably played host to Elton John and Rod Stewart this year.
Pink will play three open air shows in Ireland next summer, with shows at Belfast’s King’s Hall Complex and Dublin’s RDS preceding the Thomond Park gigs. T
he news will come as a considerable boost to the local economy, as a recent survey conducted by BDO Simpson Xavier on behalf of Munster Rugby determined that the Elton John concert generated €9.9 million for the local economy, with 13 local hotels reporting 100 per cent occupancy. It is believed that the Rod Stewart concert had a similar impact.
While Aiken and Thomond Park undoubtedly played safe with the first series of gigs, they are aiming for a younger market with the selection of Pink, who has sold a massive number of tickets worldwide, including 58 sold out arena shows in Australia and several sold out shows in Ireland this year.
The Pennsylvania-born performer released her first album “Can't Take Me Home” in 2000, while 2002’s follow-up Missundaztood sold an estimated 13 million copies worldwide. Her present album “Funhouse” has also clocked up massive sales around the world, with lead single “So What” taking Pink to her first Billboard number one American chart success.
Tickets for the concert will go on sale from Ticketmaster outlets and Empire Music on O’Connell Street next Friday, October 23, at 9am.
General admission tickets will be priced at €58.30, while seated tickets will be available for €63.20.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Graffiti to be displayed in Limerick School of Art and Design

THE GRAFFITI works completed at the recent international graffiti session which took place in Limerick Skatepark last week are to be exhibited in Limerick School of Art and Design from next Monday.
The “Just Writing My Name” graffiti jam - the first international graffiti event to take place in Ireland - attracted 20 artists from across Europe who showcased their abilities on special wooden boards erected for the occasion.
A large crowd gathered for the event, which was held on October 3 last. Two of the world’s most famous graffiti artists, Klark Kent and Cantwo, were among those who attended the event, which was hosted by the O’Connell Street-based graffiti shop South Central LK and Montana Cans, a European spray-paint supplier.
Nick Bromfield, local musician and graffiti artist, who helped organise the event, said the resulting works were “world standard art” and expressed his delight at how successfully the event was run.
He explained that the individual pieces were “very bright, very colourful” and that the style was important.
"In graffiti terms it is called writing - a lot of letter styles that would be very distinctive, every artist has a different style,” explained Nick.
The pieces will now be installed in the Church Gallery, on LSAD’s Clare Street campus, a move that local Councillor Tom Shortt - who supported the festival - said was “significant”.
“I am happy to see the works going into an exhibition so people will have a second chance to see the work and see the finished products,” explained Cllr Shortt.
“Hopefully this will continue the debate about youth culture and maybe get people interested and get a designated and dedicated space to this type of art. It is a significant project and important that it came to Limerick and shows that culturally, there is great activity and vitality in the city.”
The Labour councillor dismissed recent calls by a fellow councillor that banning spray paint was a way to combat so-called random graffiti.
“I know the problems, I have condemned random graffiti and tried to steer it into a positive, structured situation and this is the way forward. Banning these products is not the way forward and is oppressive; we should liberate young people by supporting them,” he added.
The graffiti exhibition will open on Monday, October 19 next at 7.30pm and run until Friday, October 23.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Don Juan In Hell" opens in the Belltable


I ATTENDED the opening night of the latest Limerick Theatre Hub venture last night, Don Juan In Hell, by GB Shaw and directed by Killaloe man Duncan Molly.
The piece boasts both superb staging and performances - particularly Limerick man Darragh Bradshaw's impressive (statuesque?) puppetry performance.
There is some serious, meaty subject matter in here, but a delightful witty strand permeates the philosophical debate that takes place, primarily between Don Juan and the Devil.
It would be superb if local audiences came out and supported this play, which runs in the Belltable until October 24.
See preview article below.

LIMERICK THEATRE audiences will be transported to “hell and back again” this week as the entertaining and much anticipated ‘Don Juan In Hell’ opens in the Belltable on Wednesday night.

The piece, the latest in the Limerick Theatre Hub venture, deals with infamous literary character Don Juan and his travails in hell - and is based on the play written by famous Irish author George Bernard Shaw.

It promises to be a hilarious and visually arresting piece, given the ambitious set design and puppetry, created by Limerick man Darragh Bradshaw.

Killaloe man Duncan Molloy directs a cracking cast of actors including Martin McGuire - well-known from his work on The Tudors and The Clinic - as well as Fair City regulars Nathan Gordon and Eilish O’Donnell.

“What we are trying to do is not have it as a classical, ‘ye-olde’ play and instead try and look at it from a different point of view,” explained Duncan.

“It is not strictly an adaptation because we are not drastically changing the setting of it or anything, we are just trying to play around with it and have a bit of fun with it,” he added.

The premise of the story is that Don Juan has been dragged to hell by the his former lover’s father, who he killed in a duel.

When she in turn dies after a long and happy life, she awakens to the appalling realisation that she is also in hell, with Don Juan, who is by now great friends with her father, who likes to pop down occasionally from heaven. If it sounds like a romp, that is what Duncan had in mind.

“The idea is that if we all could do whatever we want it would be grand, but what's the point? If we are not going to get punished for doing bad, then why do good at all? It goes from there,” laughed Duncan.
“The main thing is, it is a bit of a laugh - Shaw is very, very funny, whether you read him on a page or aloud. So we are just trying to bring that out, have a few gags and a bit of a laugh on stage,” said Duncan.

Don Juan In Hell opens in the Belltable @ 36 Cecil Street this Wednesday at 8pm. It runs until October 24 and tickets are available on 061-319866.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speakeasy Jazz returns to Shannon Rowing Club this Thursday


SHANNON ROWING Club has been creating a mini-revolution in recent months, playing host to the charming Speakeasy Jazz soirees that are calling the venue home. This Thursday Speakeasy are back with a very special October gig, details of which are in the article below.
THE POPULAR ‘Speakeasy Jazz’ night, held every month in Shannon Rowing Club, is to experiment with an exciting collaboration this week as poetry meets jazz for an innovative venture.
Speakeasy have hosted regular nights over the past couple of months, successfully bringing the best in local jazz to Limerick audiences.
For their October gig, taking place this Thursday, the organisers are to present an exciting collaboration between local poets, the finest local jazz musicians, all accompanied by some arresting visual art.
The Space Modulator Trio of Bart Kiely, Peter Hanagan and Dave Irwin will join forces with three of Limerick's finest poets, Ciaran O'Driscoll, Mark Wheelan and Peadar Clancy, while this exciting collaboration will be accompanied by some amazing visual art in the form of 'Tryptich' by Alexis Clancy.
“It promises to be an interesting evening,” laughed organiser Niamh McNamara this Tuesday. “The whole idea behind the Speakeasy Jazz nights was to promote Limerick artists and to encourage collaboration between them and get people together to create new art,” explained Niamh.
“The Cuisle International Poetry Festival is on this week so we thought jazz and poetry would go very well together - traditionally jazz and poetry complement each other; jazz can really go with any art form and we are inviting artists to use our space as a forum for collaboration.”
The Space Modulator Trio is made up of a trio of well-known local musicians in Hanagan, Irwin and Kiely, but they rarely - if ever - play together, making this a unique occasion.
“They are well-known around town but don’t often play together, so it should be interesting. They will be improvising the music themselves, which will fit perfectly with the poetry - they will have to find the tone within the poems themselves so it should be interesting,” said Niamh.
Well known local actor Norma Lowney will also perform on the night, accompanied by Sarah Lynch on DJ-duties, while House/Jazz musician and DJ Peter Burns will finish out the evening in style.
Speakeasy also have a solid line-up of gigs stretching into the New Year, so keep an eye on the Limerick Chronicle for updates.
The October ‘Speakeasy Jazz’ night takes place this Thursday, October 15 in Shannon Rowing Club, with doors opening around 9pm.

Album reviews - Muse and Newton Faulkner

Muse
‘The Resistance’
(Warner Music)

THIS album has been sitting on my desk for the past couple of weeks, just in my sight line, pleading with me to take it home and listen to its undoubted highlights.
The reason for my procrastination? Muse are simply a hard band to like.
They are without doubt one of the biggest bands in the world at this moment, their live shows unrivalled in terms of thrills and spills and sheer magnitude. On record however, they have struggled to replicate their massive sound to my satisfaction, with 2003’s Absolution the exception to the rule.
Interestingly, Muse seemed to have toned down the theatrics on this album, the woozy space rock of their earlier efforts replaced by a taut and fine direction.
Muse have gained a status as world leaders in epic, post-classical rock and fans will not be disappointed with this offering, but perhaps new fans might appreciate it more.
The arpeggio guitar treats on Resistance, the title track, are faintly reminiscent of Radiohead, at least until the very-Muse like piano kicks in and singer Matt Bellamy starts warbling. But there is a restraint here that is refreshing, the band abruptly breaking into territory more normally inhabited by the Who for the refrain - “it could be wrong, it could be wrong, it could never last”. Opener Uprising is admittedly less restrained, Battles like guitars and Dr. Who esque klaxon calls stuffed into its body.
The New Order synthesizer beat of Undisclosed Desires sees the band display a previously unheard harmonising and emotion, and it is impressive.
But the biggest eye-opener is the Queen sound on the opus United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage, a grandiose clarion call to arms.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Muse album without some form of overblown opus - the end of the album concluding with the three part Exogenesis Symphony - parts one, two and three, which can only be described as, a bit like Bellamy, totally barmy and almost existing in Star Wars territory (so much for restraint) but also absolutely superb.
Looks like Muse might have one more fan.
RATING 4/5

Newton Faulkner
‘Rebuilt by Humans’
(Sony)

BEARDED, dreadlocked troubadour Newton Faulkner returns with ‘Rebuilt by Humans’, the follow-up - we are told by the sticker on the front cover - to the million selling 2007 debut Hand Built By Robots.
The success of that album owed much to Faulkner’s - real name Sam - interesting guitar playing abilities, live performances and, cynically, the presence of a admittedly rather decent cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop.
Watching Faulkner at the recent Cois Fharraige festival it is clear that, cycnism aside, this guy is a superb musician, capable of producing full band-like performances by himself.
The soft twinkling guitar ‘Intro’ opens the album and segues effortlessly into the super-cool ‘Badman’, an early highlight, Faulkner’s funky rhythm’s driving the song.
At first listen follower ‘I Took It Out On You’ seems to stray dangerously close to boyband, X-factor territory, but is rescued by Faulkner’s engaging, gravely vocals and well-crafted musicianship.
Faulkner clearly likes his interludes, the 30 second snatch of ‘Hello’ preceding the emotional ‘If This Is It’ - another close skirmish with Ronan Keating territory, which thankfully comes through the other side owing to the presence of heavy orchestration and Faulkner’s howling vocals.
Other highlights are the effortlessly impressive and dark, didgeridoo driven Resin On My Heart Strings, the jazzy Let’s Get Together, Faulkner sounding eerily like Tom Baxter and the delicate This Town.
Unfortunately the album is let down by ill-advised efforts like Lipstick Jungle and the fact that, at 19 tracks, it is simply too long and too near soppy, wind in the hair ballads for my liking. RATING 2/5

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play October Belltable Sessions

OVER the course of a genial chat with Newcastle West man Emmet Scanlan, the singer-songwriter expresses some regret that he never formed his band in Limerick, instead choosing to pick up sticks and relocate to Galway, where his band ‘What The Good Thought’ were formed in 2004.
Casting an ever so slightly green eye over the buzzing music scene in his home town, he subtly displays a slight hankering for the connections between the various acts in Limerick.
However, the strength of his band lies in the fact that he has assembled an international cast with members hailing from Italy to Sweden, leading to a dynamic and diverse sound that is ear-catching.
“Limerick is a place that has a really good music scene, I was almost envious that I didn't start the band here because there seems to be a lot of really good bands and there is a good connection between them,” says Emmet.
He cites the recent ‘Tonelist’ collection of local artists as proof of this “connection”.
“That sort of thing doesn't happen in Galway as much, in Limerick people seem to come out and support bands and I would love to be able to play at home more often,” he adds.
Formed in 2004 around the Tig Neachtain pub in Galway where the Newcastle West man found himself after a period of travel, Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought are a delightfully diverse five-piece featuring Alan Preims, percussionist from Italy, classical guitarist Peter Akerstrom from Sweden, Scottish cellist Nicola Geddes and Irish bass player Cathal Doherty. The group released debut album ‘Hands’ in March, a collection of evocative soundscapes filled with lush instrumentation.
Think Spanish guitar fused with light fingered tabla percussion, gorgeous cello parts infused with Scanlan’s Anthony Keidis-esque vocals. In a word, the international scope of this band has transformed and moulded Scanlan’s undoubtedly strong songs; think of One Day International and you wouldn’t be far off.
“I played in bands over the years with guys that I grew up with, but we all grew up listening to the same stuff - so the ideas were coming from more or less the same source,” says Scanlan.
“But all the lads in the band now, the type of music and artist that they would be into would be quite different from what I would ever have heard of and it has opened me up to new music and opened up a lot of ideas and styles, which is great.
“The formation of the band was all very much coincidence and when it seemed to be turning out that way I was delighted. I was working in a bar in Galway and I had been travelling for a year and writing songs, but I wanted to get an original band together to showcase the songs - I didn't know what I was doing really, except that I wanted to get a bunch of musicians together. I got to know these guys through working in the bar and bombarded them and that is how it all began,” he explains.
The result has been tours of the States with the Saw Doctors, invitations to the International Folk Alliance Festival in Memphis and positive reviews of their eclectic debut album.
This summer also saw the band play support to Femi Kuti in the Big Top in Galway and as part of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The band are now gearing up to play nearly 20 dates from here to Christmas and are hoping to record some new material for release early next year.
First, they play at the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night - a rare hometown gig for Emmet to get his teeth into.
“The idea of the Belltable sessions seems to suit our style, it will be nice because we have worked over the last while on having our set to cater to the environment we play in, so it is nice to be able to do both larger, louder venues and smaller, intimate venues. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night, with support from Kev Fox, Sí and Beautiful Rooms. Doors at 8pm.

Delorentos - You Can Make Sound album review


Delorentos
‘You Can Make Sound’
(Delorecords)
RATING 4/5

AGAINST all the odds, Delorentos have produced a follow-up to 2007’s excellent debut, In Love With Detail. Following a ‘will-they, won’t-they’ shaky period in the life of the Dublin band, the quartet are set to release You Can Make Sound this Friday, amidst a quiet sigh of relief in several quarters.
The news that the band were to split at the beginning of the year was greeted with universal shock in Irish music circles, the Malahide band seen as one of the stronger outfits on the go.
The band, who were feted here and particularly abroad as the leading light among modern Irish rock bands, all jangly guitar hooks and killer choruses - declared that lead singer Ronan Yourell was to leave the band.
This followed a period where the band suffered record company setbacks and were, by their own admission, “burnt out”. However, before Yourell left, there was the matter of recording another album and playing some farewell gigs, and, as that progressed, he decided the output was too strong to walk away from.
It seems Irish super-producer Gareth Mannix was the glue that kept this band together, guiding them through a “cathartic process” and allowing them to re-discover their love for recording and playing music, and You Can Make Sound is the result.
Bassist Níal Conlan told this reporter that the album would contain more depth, reflect broader influences and concentrate more on structure as a result.
Although they have moved slightly from the more generic, 4X4 stadium rock that impressed on their debut, Delorentos have not gone and reinvented the wheel on this album, mining influences as broad as early Bloc Party, Editors and particularly, The Bravery.
Several songs on this album sound uncannily like that New York band, notably the opener Sanctuary, Hallucinations and Leave Me Alone.
The catchy riffs on Secret, the first single released from the album, make it more of a Delorentos song, and you will be doing well not to be humming the chorus for days after hearing it.
There is a nice change of pace on You Say You’ll Never Love Her and Leave Me Alone, delicate, emotional songs both - the latter on which Yourell sings “it’s a little too late for us to change”.
We don’t agree, as these songs demonstrate, Delorentos can take the tempo down, a fear that presented itself after their first album, which was mostly pepped up on youthful exuberance. The engaging Editorial and Body Cold are somewhat let down by Let The Light Go Out and the ill-advised Soulmate, but the album finishes on a high with the piano-driven, harmony filled I Remember.
However, it is the penultimate track, which the album is named after, that impresses the most, the distinctive rhythm and effortless cool of You Can Make Sound reinforcing the notion that this is one of the best Irish bands around. Let’s hope they can stay together for album number three. www.myspace.com/delorentos
Download: Sanctuary, You Can Make Sound

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'Fall Prom' for Limerick-based charity Worthy Cause Ireland takes place this Saturday


THE FOURTH annual ‘Fall Prom’ is to take place this Saturday night, raising much needed money for the Limerick-based charity Worthy Cause Ireland which raises money for projects in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Last year’s event, which is organised by Limerick event management company ‘Great Friday’, raised over €3,500 for a Self Help community centre the Cambodian city.
The Limerick based charity was established by brothers Mark and David Quinn, from Castletroy, who aim to help families educate their children in the South-East Asian country. There will be a “circus theme” to this year’s event, according to Mark.
“There will be a variety of fire performers, stilt walkers, a magician, tarot readers and a candy floss machine,” said Mark, adding that acclaimed Dublin band ‘Funzo’ will perform on the night. Limerick TD Jan O’Sullivan will be on hand to cut the ribbon on the evenings festivities, which will take place in the Pery Hotel.
The organisers have dubbed the event “a charity ball for twenty-somethings”, and as such have reduced prices to reflect the straitened economic times.
“The traditional sit down meal has been scrapped in favour of making the tickets more accessible to the general public,” explained Mark.
“We have also lowered the ticket price by twenty percent in view of the public being more value conscious at the moment, and you really can't get better than a mere €20 for this fantastic event,” added Mark.
Hundreds turned out for last year’s successful event and the charity are keen to thank their sponsors Best Western Hotels, Great Friday Event Management, CWB and Carphone Warehouse Parkway who have donated a laptop as the grand prize in the raffle to be held on the night. Worthy Cause was started three years ago by the Quinn brothers and a number of Limerick locals who had an interest in fundraising and relieving poverty and providing education and scholarship programmes in Siem Reap.
The Fall Prom will take place this Saturday, October 10 in the Pery Hotel, for further details or tickets please email prom@greatfriday.ie or call 085-2822282.
Tickets are available in the Glentworth Hotel and the Brazen Head.
(pic copyright Mark Lyons)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Orbital to play Tripod gig in November

JUST announced, Orbital to play first indoor Irish show since 2001 at Dublin’s Tripod on Friday 13th November - eek, Friday 13th - with tickets going on sale tomorrow.
The show will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut single “Chime” and follows their headline slot at Electric Picnic last month, which was greeted with mixed reviews.
This reporter found their set a bit lifeless and montonous, the glorious 'Belfast' aside, which was as good as any moment from the weekend.
However, a legion of electro fans will await this much anticipated indoor gig in Tripod - which might well hit the heights of their many fabled live gigs from years gone by.
According to the lads this is not an exercise in nostalgia:
“It’s not an exercise in nostalgia at all, the time just seems right,” says Phil. “They came to us with the offer, and everything just seemed to fall into place. Also the timing seems good: 20 years of being together.”
“Audience reaction is part of the process,” Paul explains, “It really becomes like a friendly football match between you and the crowd. That was always one of our strong points - and for people to say that about an electronic band is a real honour, because it’s the one genre of music that’s normally crap live.
“We’ve got 15 years of active service, making songs,” Paul says. “If you boil that down to a 90-minute festival set you should get something thoroughly good from beginning to end. Let’s put some fun back into it.”
Tickets are €42.50/49.50 (inc. booking fee) and available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets. Tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gig for Ger McDonnell Memorial Fund this Saturday night in Dolan's Warehouse

Gig for Ger McDonnell this Saturday night in Dolan's, featuring a plethora of local bands, all in aid of the fund established in his name. See below. Support if you can.

A GROUP of Limerick bands are to come together for a gig in aid of the Gerard McDonnell Memorial Fund this Saturday.

Ger, the Kilcornan mountaineer who was the first Irishman to summit K2, died tragically on his descent a little over a year ago and his family and friends have set up the fund to assist the children of those Pakistani and Nepalese climbers who also lost their lives on K2: Jehan Baig, Karim Meherban, Jumik Bhote and Pasang Bhote.

In conjunction with The Mountain Fund charity, the fund will sponsor these children throughout their childhood years, helping with their education and medical care. Local musician Patrick O’Brien, of the band Last Days of Death Country, was a friend of the gregarious Ger and was keen to organise a gig in aid of the charity in his name.

Five well known bands from the Limerick scene have come together to play in Dolan’s Warehouse, and each have a connection with Ger.

“These are bands which would be known on the Limerick music scene,” said Patrick, adding that Ger was, himself, interested in music and had his own band in Alaska.

“I would have introduced Ger to these bands and he loved them,” Patrick added. “There is a very important connection with Ger in all of this. And I believe it will be a fantastic night. It will be music straight through from 9.30pm.”

Joining the excellent Last Days of Death Country are; Walter Mitty and the Realists, who have just locally released their superb debut album Green Light Go and are preparing to make their way to Canada, where they have a large following; Windings, featuring Steve Ryan of Giveamanakick fame, but now well established in their own right; local pop-rock band Supermodel Twins, of whom great things are expected when they release an album and Ennis based artist Vertigo Smyth, who won a prize at the Galway Film Fleadh for his song Comfort Me.

“It’s a fantastic lineup,” Patrick enthused, “and everything is going to the fund. Please help us help them, the children, and come support this great fund. Even if you can’t make it put it on your Bebo, Facebook, whatever websites to get the word out about it.”

The gig will take place in Dolan’s Warehouse this Saturday. Tickets cost €10 at the door or can be bought online. Donations can also be made to the fund by buying tickets. For full details on the fund go to www.mountainfund.org.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New comedy club launches this evening - Last Laughs in the Trinity Rooms


FATHER Ted fans rejoice; the Last Laugh Comedy Club is aiming to sate Craggy Island fans with the launch of a new series of comedy nights, beginning with a Fr. Ted special this Thursday night.

The Trinity Rooms-hosted comedy night launches this Thursday and welcomes Fr. Ted favourites Joe Rooney, who memorably played Fr. Damien "Damo" Lennon in the ‘Think Fast, Father Ted’ episode of the superb series, as well as Patrick McDonnell, who played ‘Eoin Mc Love’ and Kevin Gildea who played ‘Fr. Cave’ in the ‘Flight into Terror’ episode.

The Last Laugh Comedy Club is, according to Trinity Rooms’ supremo Joe Clarke, the “third incarnation” of long-running comedy series in the club, which most recently took the form of the popular ‘Schnitzel’ comedy nights.

Joe is hoping that the Last Laugh proves to be as popular, and has assembled a very fine line-up of comedians to entertain over the coming winter.

First up is the ‘Further Ted’ launch party, featuring three of the series’ most popular peripheral characters, as well as being firmly established comedians in their own right.

Rooney in particular, has become one of the country’s most popular stand-up MCs, most recently featuring in Killinaskully and The Liffey Laugh on RTE Two.

Looking ahead, Joe assured the Limerick Leader that the strength of the line-ups will continue to be as consistent.

“We’ll have Ardal O’Hanlon for his first Limerick show in 12 years, Kevin McAleer for his first Limerick show in ten years, as well as Jason Byrne, PJ Gallagher, Jarlath Regan and Maeve Higgins and more - there is plenty there,” said Joe.

Looks like Trinity Rooms might have the last laugh on comedy for the foreseeable future, so be sure to get down there early.

The ‘Last Laugh’ Comedy Club launches this Thursday night in Trinity Rooms. Doors are at 7.30pm and tickets are €12 from Trinity Rooms, ULSU, MISU and Empire Music.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Modest Mouse will not be coming to Limerick this December


Despite much online speculation, which was reported here as elsewhere, it seems that the rumours surrounding Modest Mouse's potential gig in Dolan's on December 5 will not be going ahead.

According to Dolan's: "Contrary to online rumours Modest Mouse will not be playing Dolans this December. There was a whisper of it happening some weeks ago but in the end the band have decided to play just Dublin this time around.
We will endeavour to catch them on their next European tour".

The band will play the Academy on December 7, so looks like Limerick fans will have to travel to catch this gig.
UPDATE:
Seems that Modest Mouse are to play in are to play in the Radisson in Galway on December 5, the night they were rumoured to be playing Limerick. The Academy gig has sold out for Dec 7 but there is one on the Tuesday night also on sale. Thanks to Ciaran for the heads up. Full ticket listings on Ticketmaster.
UPDATE # 2:
I'm reliably informed that there may yet be hope for the Modest Mouse gig in Dolan's.. watch this space... Actually watch this blog, to be more precise...!

New series of plays launched in the Belltable

MINISTER for Defence Willie O’Dea launched the next in the series of plays forming part of the Limerick Theatre Hub in the Belltable Arts Centre this Monday evening.
The Minister launched the next productions in the ‘Elements: A Season of Theatre’ series, an Arts Council funded initiative that has, in the absence of a professional theatre company in Limerick, seen four productions funded and developed locally, featuring local performers. Despite recommendations in the Government commissioned ‘McCarthy Report’ that funding for the arts be dramatically scaled back, Minister O’Dea told the Limerick Chronicle that he was “reasonably hopeful” that a certain level of funding can be maintained to this area.
“I would be reasonably hopeful we would be able to maintain a reasonable level of funding for the arts, it is very important,” said Minister O’Dea.
The ‘Elements’ series has already seen two professional productions staged in the Belltable, with two more to come in October and November - ‘Don Juan in Hell’ directed by Duncan Molloy and ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ adapted by Mike Finn.
All four productions received a total funding of €90,000 from the Arts Council, a far cry short of the usual cost of producing professional theatre.
“This is a classic example of how to get the best value for money - they have got so much for so little here, it shows the money can be spent to great effect,” said Minister O’Dea.
“The arts are very important and are even more important in a recession, because the country is not just about an economy, it is about society as well.
The Minister added: “Good local theatre certainly fosters community spirit and there is a lot of potential ability out there that can be tapped by having access to good local theatre, and that is what this is about essentially”.
Joanne Beirne, artistic director with the Belltable, said that audience support is essential to the continuing success of the initiative.
“You can't have pieces without an audience and we value our patrons very much and hope to engage them a lot more,” said Joanne.
“The audiences are really important to us and we hope to produce more work like this, but we are going to need their support in order to do that.
“We are on a really tight budget - a normal theatre production can be anywhere from €50,000-150,000 - we are doing four for €90,000, so it is certainly a huge feat and all the artists involved and performers have worked their socks off.”
Don Juan in Hell, adapted from a George Bernard Shaw play, will premiere and run in the Belltable from October 14-24.

(pictured l-r Joanne Beirne, Minister Willie O'Dea and John Gleeson, courtesy Owen South)