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’
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.

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.