Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Forbidden Fruit festival this Saturday and Sunday to feature Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin, playing at Forbidden Fruit on Sunday
ONE of the most intriguing new music festivals of recent years kicks off this June Bank Holiday weekend, featuring headliners The Flaming Lips and Aphex Twin - the latter described as “the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music” - who grew up in England but was born in Limerick, a little known fact of musical lore.

The ‘Forbidden Fruit’ festival takes place this coming Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, on the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, in Dublin, the first multi staged music festival to take place in the capital city.
Sponsored by Bulmers and run by POD, the site for the gig is to be set up in the shape of an apple and is billed as a “collaborative fusion of music, art and fashion”. Also featuring on the eclectic and exciting line-up are Battles, Wild Beats, Erol Alkan, Jape, Caribou, Jamie XX, Ham Sandwich and many more.
Full line-up:

The Flaming Lips

Yo La Tengo

Wild Beasts

Bombay Bicycle Club

The Phoenix Foundation

Erol Alkan


The Subs

Rory Philips



Ham Sandwich


Bitches With Wolves

Kid Karate

Bipolar Empire

Aphex Twin



Jamie XX

Carte Blanche

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Spank Rock


Kormac’s Band

Solar Bears

Favourite Sons

Trinity Orchestra

Cast Of Cheers

Not Squares




Tera Melos
Tickets remain on sale and are available from Ticketmaster. See here for more and full day to day breakdown.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Imelda May announced for Dolan's 'Big Top' in the Milk Market - June 5

DUBLIN'S rockabilly queen Imelda May has just been confirmed for the Dolan's Presents 'Live At The Big Top' show in Limerick's Milk Market for Sunday, June 5.

May will be joined by a full band in the multi-use venue, and follows quickly on the heels of The Coronas, who played a storming show in the venue on the May Bank Holiday weekend recently.

That was something of a test outing for Dolan's, who have an agreement with the venue to stage live shows there, and the venue proudly claimed a crowd of 1,500 for that gig - which ran off without any problems, and showed that the market venue is more than capable of hosting a live gig. In fact, the venue proved to be a top class one, with the large, canopied roof keeping the sound in and adding to the atmosphere. On the Beat understands that this will be the first of many gigs in the venue, presuming their continued success.

Gates for the June 5 gig will open at 7.30pm - and food stalls and bars will be open. It is an over 18s show and tickets priced at  €30 including booking will go on sale on Friday morning - or Thursday for members of the music lovers club.

Cold Pro Surf and Music Festival is cancelled - announcement

THE Cold Pro Surf and Music Festival which was due to take place near White Strand beach - between Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay - and was to feature Peter Hook and Jamie XX , has been cancelled, On the Beat can reveal.

The festival, which had the support of Heineken and Hot Press among others, and featured a strong line-up of acts set to appear on three stages, has been pulled just over a week before it was due to take place, owing to "factors outside the organisers control", according to a statement.

Imelda May, Ben Howard, The Nextmen, Electric Wire Hustle and a multitude of others were due to play at the two day festival, set to take place Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5 and which was to also feature a surf contest with "featuring some of Europe's best riders battling it out for €20,000".

The organisers released the below statement just a short while ago:

"This morning, due to factors outside of the organizers control, Cold Pro festival has been forced to postpone our collective celebration of surf, sounds and soul until a later date.

Events that have transpired during the last 72 hours have made it impossible for the festival to go ahead as planned on the June bank holiday weekend.

The ‘Powers that be’ have unfortunately and sadly decided that County Clare and indeed Ireland will have to wait much longer for a festival like this to be able to function as we envision it.

All of us at Cold Pro festival have put our hearts and souls into creating an independent event run by the people for the people, and we would like to sincerely apologize to every person that has come on board or was as excited as us, and thank all that were aspiring to help out or come and party with us.

We are aiming to come back stronger than ever to run the festival in 2012, possibly in a different part of Ireland, but still with the same ideals and creative vision as the driving force behind it.

All ticket holders will be refunded in full ASAP via ticketmaster."

For more see here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And So I Watch You From Afar for Dolan's this Wednesday

Watch from Afar as band take over
TONY Wright, of Belfast rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, has managed to avoid carrying his band’s amps and equipment into a gig venue in Manchester on account of our phone conversation.

Needless to say he is pleased. The guitarist with the gargantuan instrumental rock outfit is equally chipper to discover that band’s new album, Gangs, has just entered the Irish charts at number 28.

“We just found that out, it is really nice,” he beams. “Who would have thought that a bunch of noisy country bumpkins would ever get into the charts - I suppose it is better than Crystal Swing anyway, not to mention Jedward. If we can do it, there is hope for music after all,” he adds with a laugh.

The achievement is warranted, the follow-up to their acclaimed, Choice Music Prize nominated self-titled debut album, a cracker - throbbing with their own brand of joyous post-rock instrumentalism.

But where ASIWYFA’s debut was slightly edgy, on the raw side, Gangs is a more cohesive offering, certainly more celebratory in mood, a tribute to their many fans included among its many fruits.

It is surprising, then, to learn that four piece band - made up of Wright, fellow guitarist Rory Friers, bassist Johnny Adger and drummer Chris Wee - completely scrapped the 20-plus songs they had written for the follow-up, so-called “difficult” second album.

“We had written about 20-25 songs and I think through all of the touring, they just kind of lost their sparkle a little bit, we weren’t quite as enthused about them, they felt a bit rushed and we just decided to start again,” says Tony.

“So we did, I think it was six weeks before we went into the studio - we nearly gave our manager our heart attack, but we didn’t like the songs any more and wanted to start again. I think the songs were written in such a confined space of time that they have a really unique feeling to them - they sound like a body of work rather than just a catalogue of songs,” he adds.

It is a wonder they managed any time to record at all, not to mind scrapping songs and starting all over again, given that the hard-rocking outfit are among that rare breed of band that is willing to tour, tour and tour again - almost to the point of exhaustion. Known for their unrelenting appetite for playing live that has seen them play over 300 gigs since the start of 2009, the band are rightly acclaimed for their high-energy shows.

“Sometimes you do get it into your head, worrying about not getting time (to record), but you just make time, you have to. I won’t lie and say it has been completely stress free, there has been a lot of stress involved, but it is a nice problem to have,” he says.

“I would feel like an utter bastard complaining about it. I’m getting to go around the world and play music - I might be half broke, but I am getting to play music,” he laughs.

The result is an eight song tribute the band’s last two years playing together all over the world, with their typical monster riffage and pounding drums thrown into the mix. There is a mite more introspection in evidence.

“We just wanted to reflect the madness we have experienced over the past couple of years, travelling around, meeting all of these gangs of people. I think we have done it, I hope so,” adds Tony.

ASIWYFA play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Wednesday, May 18. Gangs is out now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New acts announced for Electric Picnic and Body and Soul

Legendary hip-hop group Public Enemy are among a batch of new artists announced for Electric Picnic today. The seminal group, led by Chuck D and Flava Fav, who will make their debut appearance in Stradbally, will be joined for the three day arts and music festival by New York pop-rock outfit The Drums, whose 'Let's Go Surfing' was a soundtrack to last summer.



EP '11 takes place from Sept 2-4 in Stradbally, and tickets are on sale now.

More additions were also announced last week for the upcoming Body and Soul festival, taking place on June 18th & 19th in Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath. They are:

Nicolas Jaar, Lisa Hannigan, Delorean, Don Letts and Parish.

The initial line-up for the gig includes Fat Freddy's Drop, Holy Fuck, Lamb, Mount Kimbie, The Field, Plaid, Arborea, The Correspondents, Joris Voorn, Brandt Brauer Frick, Darkstar, Toro y Moi, Cloud Castle Lake and Lisa O Neill.

Tickets are available now from €99. See here for more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bands set to rock Bialystok

Judge Richard Dowling, Patryk Pugawko, Bialystok native studying in LIT, Mayor of Limerick, Maria Byrne, Adrian Cunningham, promoter and David Keary, judge, launching the Rock to Bialystok Competition to take place in Dolan’s Limerick in April
50,000 baying students, mega-rock band the Guano Apes and the oldest rock festival in Poland - what do they all have in common? One lucky Limerick band could be among them, performing as the opening act at the Juwenalia Rock Festival in Poland in May.

Local bands are being called on to enter the ‘Rock to Bialystok’ competition that could see them play at Poland’s oldest rock festival in front of an amazing 30,000 music fans.

The contest, billed as Limerick’s first all rock band competition, will take place over three nights in Limerick in April, with the eventual winner scooping the prestigious prize of an opening spot at the huge international festival.

This coming Monday marks the closing date for entry for the competition, and the organisers are urging local bands to enter the heats, and are seeking “original, energetic and exciting rock bands from the Limerick area” to take part.

“We have a good few entries already and we still have just under a week to go before the closing date,” explained competition promoter, local man Adrian Cunningham, of the Production Office.

“This really is a brilliant opportunity for a local band and there will be three nights of heats in Dolan’s, a nice venue, and each heat will be professionally recorded and the band can keep that recording free of charge,” he added.

The eventual winner will receive an all expenses paid trip to Poland to play at the Juwenalia festival, but Adrian warned that is a rock festival, so a rock band was required.

“It is a rock festival, make no mistake. There is a pre-selection process and it for bands of a rock genre - not necessarily heavy metal, but it does include that. If you are not the kind of band who can stand up in front of 20 or 30,000 people and excite them, then you wouldn’t get very far,” he said.

“We would encourage local bands to enter and there is a burgeoning scene here in Limerick, so we know that the bands are there.

“It doesn’t matter about the quality of the demo, it is the material we want to hear, it doesn’t need to be professionally produced,” he added.

Interested bands need to apply before midnight on Monday, March 28 and should send two mp3 tracks and a full biography to rtb@juwenalia.bialystok.pl.

Nine bands will be shortlisted to play at the three heats in Dolan’s, which will take place on April 5, 12, 19, and three selected bands going through to the final on April 26.

Full details are available here.

Mumford and Sons in Dolan's Warehouse

Killtribe - Final night in Baker Place (courtesy Ken Coleman)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The National - "Conversation 16" (Official Video)

Electric Picnic 2011 line-up announced

Arcade Fire: Headliners for Electric Picnic 2011
It has been well documented that the Electric Picnic 2011 line-up was unintentionally leaked (possibly hacked) online yesterday, but the official announcement was today, and there are a number of names in the official release that weren't on the leaked list. It's a very tasty line-up indeed, and here it is in all its glory:







We understand that Pulp will headline the Sunday night, but no word on the other headliners. A very exciting line-up with big guns (Arcade Fire, Pulp, Chemical Brothers), super-cool, out there selections (Flying Lotus, Beirut, The Walkmen), favourites (Jimmy 'I can see clearly now' Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, Interpol) and a great Irish line-up (Ivan St John, Adebisi Shank, The Danger Is, Sinead O'Connor, Mundy, Codes, Cast of Cheers, etc etc).

Flying Lotus: A rather cool dude, and playing at the Picnic!

Faves such as the Body and Soul, Mindfield, Global Green, Arcadia, Comedy Tent (Rubberbandits are mentioned in the press release), Trenchtown, and all of the usual will return, more details to follow.

EP '11 takes place from Sept 2-4 in Stradbally, and tickets are on sale now, here are the details:


Weekend Tickets are €240 / Family Camping Ticket EU240 per adult. Payable in easy instalments
Sunday Day Tickets: EU99.50 (No camping permitted)
Campervan Tickets for access to Regular & Family Campervan Parks are €60
Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie & usual outlets. All ticket prices include booking fee & VAT
Credit Card Hotline: Ph 0818 719300 Republic of Ireland / 0870 2434455 UK/Northern Ireland.
Phone / internet bookings are subject to 12.5% service charges. Agents fee is €2.50.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Line-up announced for Body and Soul festival 2011

The line-up for this year's Body and Soul festival has been announced, and boy is it tasty.. One of the - ok - THE best festival we attended last summer returns with a bang - here is the list/blurb, taking place on June 18th & 19th in Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath:
Alex Wilner aka The Field
Fat Freddy's Drop
Mount Kimbie
Holy Fuck
The Correspondents
Brandt Brauer Frick
Cloud Castle Lake
Lisa O'Neill
Daithi O Dronai
Joris Voorn

Wow. Super line-up, and more to come, I'm sure. Here's more from the blurb:

This JUNE 2011, the intimate Other-World of Body&Soul will be returning to the labyrinth of stone-walled gardens, winding pathways and woodlands at Ballinlough Castle, with the same smattering of magic and mischief in a weekend, packed with an eclectic mix of live electronic and acoustic acts, holistic arts, green crafts, a secluded Soul Kids garden, art installations and bubbling hot tubs in the forest. The weekend will also feature Body&Soul's flamboyant Saturday Night Masquerade Ball - now an annual event, where revellers are invited to slip in to costume, don a mask, and dance incognito under the stars.

Adding to the permanent installations on-site, the celebrated Burning Man artists Gerard Minakawa and SHRINE will make their annual trek from California to work exclusively with Body&Soul, contributing their craftsmanship to the festival's landscape with a new custom-built bamboo stage and dramatic art pieces made from found and recycled materials.

In keeping with the Solstice tradition the festival will culminate in a closing lakeside fire ceremony - a magnificent spectacle which will include floating art, giant puppets, fireworks and flamethrowers.

With weekend camping tickets from as little as €99 (Limited Early Bird), festival-goers are invited to enjoy Body&Soul hospitality in a carefully embroidered tapestry of creative surprises and undiscovered musical gems.

This was genuinely the best festival of last summer - think of the best parts of Electric Picnic, without the queues, walking or rain, and camping on a golf course - we can't wait to go again this year! Get buying tickets now!

Weekend Camping Tickets from EU109

Sunday Ticket EU55

Limited Early Bird Tickets EUR99

Camper Van Tickets EU30
Bus Information here. Event & Bus combined tickets available. Ticket Prices incl. Booking Fee from Tickets.ie online bookings: www.tickets.ie or telephone 0818 333 32 31.

Two Door Cinema Club win Choice Music Prize Album of the Year 2010

Two Door Cinema Club celebrate winning the Choice Music Prize Album of the Year 2010

Massive kudos to Two Door Cinema Club who were last night announced as the winner of the Choice Music Prize – Irish Album of the Year 2010 for the album Tourist History (Kitsune). 

There, I said it. Although quite shocked at the event in Vicar Street, I have had some time to reflect on the outcome, and would not bedrudge the lads their success one bit. And a great gesture by donating the 10,000 cash prize to charity. Impressive.

We saw Two Door play in Dolan's early last year, before Tourist History had ever been released or even included on an ad for a mobile phone company, and they were amazing. A crowd full of revved up teenagers brandishing glow-sticks danced their socks off through the electric set, and it seemed that the lads were definitely not destined for flash in the pan status.

Sure, the album is not as delicate as Villagers/McMorrow, as completely jaw dropping as Halves or as woozily rocky as O Emperor - but it is a complete package, a sugar-rush of effective tunes that have marked TDCC out from the start as ones to watch.

The usual naysaying has begun already after the event - and I feel for the likely runners-up Villagers and James Vincent McMorrow (by all accounts in the final three along with the Bangor electro-poppers), but then this award has NEVER been predictable, has always kept people guessing, and in recent years has already rewarded the ever-so-slightly left of centre of the Irish music scene (Adrian Crowley, Jape and Super Extra Bonus Party spring to mind). I think this award is likely to propell TDCC to bigger and better things, and their acoustic set last night was a joy to behold, showing the young trio to be real musicians.

That said, Conor J. O'Brien must be gutted. After missing out on the Mercury Music Prize (which insiders believed he had a great chance of winning), many felt (this writer included) that the Choice was a formality, a done deal. Not so. Conor is gracious enough and talented enough to take it on the chin, and is clearly destined for great things himself. If there was an award for best performance on the night, Villagers would have strolled out the door and down the street with it. Not to be, however.

Another great night at Vicar Street, with great performances all round, showing the current healthy state of the Irish music scene - if it was a little reliant on the Dublin music scene. Waterford's O Emperor very  nearly stole the show on the night, and the lads enjoyed themselves afterward, but were very gracious in defeat too.

Look forward to next year.

Rubberbandits, I wanna fight your father (As Gaeilge)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Devil in the detail for Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters

THE opening strains of ‘Thread the Needle’, the first single from the much anticipated debut album from Limerick rock band Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters, rings with a chillingly dark tone, the newly expanded four piece cleverly employing an age-old musical structure to set the scene on their newly released single.
A dark, bluesy slice of harmonica driven rock that sends shivers up the spine, the single is cleverly intended to flag the thinking behind the upcoming album’s title, ‘The Devil in Music’.
When you find yourself discussing the historical roots of a chord structure in an interview, you know you are dealing with a level of thinking beyond the banal, crash-bam-wallop of some everyday rock bands.
It seems that the affecting opening note on ‘Thread the Needle’, as Fox Jaw drummer Shane Serrano explains, is a ‘tritone’ or augmented fourth, essentially a collection of notes or a musical interval that spans three whole tones. This tone has assumed a historical reference due to its supposed “evil” connotative meaning in Western culture, which saw it referred to as ‘diabolus in musica’ - or, you guessed it, the devil in music.
“On Thread the Needle, as soon as the full band kicks in, the first chord that is played is a ‘tritone’,” explains Shane, local rocker, filmmaker, magazine editor.
“That combination of notes, back in medieval days, because of how it sounded, got banned by the church, and was referred to as ‘diabolus in musica’. The chord also actually appears a few times across the album. Although it is also known as the ‘Devil’s Chord’, we thought that sounded a bit metal-tastic, so I guess the Devil in Music felt right,” he explains.
“That is one of the main reasons for choosing Thread the Needle as the first single, as a lead up introduction as to why the album is called The Devil in Music.”
The decision to stay away from metal territory suits the band’s style, which is evocative of the louche, scuzzy tones of Josh Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age, but contains elements of Woodstock-era Joe Cocker and other reference points.
The band impressed with their previous releases, the seductive, bluegrass-riddled ‘Homeward Bound and Gagged’, and more recently, with the bourbon soaked, ‘Congress of Oddities’, marking them as ‘ones to watch’ in several quarters, including these pages.
But there has been a delay with the release of this album, an intervening period of time that has convinced Serrano and his mates Ronan Mitchell and Morgan Nolan, who formed the energetic Fox Jaw from the ashes of previous local punk bands, Fun Bobby and Natweed, to recruit a fourth member, local bass player Sean O’Mahoney.
“When the album comes out and people hear it, if we were still a three piece trying to carry off what is going on in the album, you would sense that you weren’t doing it justice in a live scenario,” explains Serrano of the album, which was recorded with Irish super-producer Owen Lewis.
“We started recording in August. We set aside two weeks and it ended up taking five months,” laughs Serrano.
“Owen did our first EP so it kind of came full circle when we went back into the studio with him and started recording. He played a very big role and has a lot of ideas. He would stop us and make sure we were doing everything perfectly.”
“We went into do it as a three piece, but when you get into the studio you get carried away with layers and instrumentation and ideas, and that is why we have expanded to a four piece,” he adds.
The result promises to be very special indeed given the band’s previous offerings, but Shane says they will be keeping themselves grounded, walking rather than running, at least initially.
“We are taking the view that you shouldn’t do anything until you are 100 percent ready,” he says.
“Nearly everything is in place now and we have never invested as much time and money and blood sweat and tears into something before, so we have to give it as much as we can. You only release a first album once.”
Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters play in Baker Place on Saturday, February 12. Thread the Needle is out now, The Devil in Music will be released in March.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mr Scruff returns to Limerick for Dolan's Warehouse gig

THE return of Manchester based DJ Mr Scruff - aka Andy Carthy - to Limerick has prompted much excitement on the local scene, such was the impact of his last show in these parts in 2008.
Likewise, the news that the ‘DJ, Producer, Cartoonist and Tea Drinker’ is to play a four hour set of jazz, soul, hip hop, disco and anything and everything else he can throw into the pot in Dolan’s Warehouse, has provoked scenes of rapture among those who have witnessed such muscular feats.
Promoters Streetlife have also decided to open the terrace in Dolan’s for this Thursday night gig, with Paul Webb and Mr Noiseee to host proceedings Upstairs, while local Limerick spinner A2DF opens in the Warehouse.
Carthy, who made a name for himself under the shadow of Manchester’s mid 90s club scene, has achieved much in his career, with critically acclaimed albums and sales of over half a million records worldwide under his belt.
As a DJ, the man himself explains that he plays “across the board”, with a mind-bending list of genres in his cache.
“As a DJ, I play across the board, including soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, dubstep, latin, african, ska, disco, house, funk, breaks, soundtracks and loads more,” says Scruff.
“As a producer I make music that draws on these influences, with a large dose of cheek and good humour,” he adds.
Carthy, who is also the proud owner of a tea company, was heavily influenced by his father’s record collection in the early days, a tell tale sign of where his live set grab their inspiration from to this day.
“The event that first sparked my curiosity about music was in the early 1980’s when, as a young 2 Tone fan, I discovered a stack of my father’s original Blue Beat 7”s, including several Prince Buster songs that had been covered by my then favourite band, Madness,” he says.
Mr Scruff takes to the stage in Dolan’s Warehouse this Thursday from 10pm. Tickets are €12.50 and are available from Ticketmaster and on the door.

Mogwai perfect art with seventh album - review

'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will'
(Rock Action Records)

SCOTTISH rock band Mogwai have been startlingly prolific over their near 16-year career, one that sees them clock up a seventh studio album with this release, ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’.
The band have rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong, and this, the follow-up to their 2008 opus ‘The Hawk is Howling’ and last year’s superb live CD/DVD ‘Special Moves’, sees the band remain staggeringly original in their output.
A band whose music effectively coined the term ‘post-rock’, the Glasgow-based outfit have nonetheless consistently made a mockery of that simplistic tag, this album no different in its variety, from the click-track based, Battles-esque ‘Mexican Grand Prix’, to the subtle, delicate and soaring ‘How To Be A Werewolf’, to the epic, grandiose and feedback-drenched album closer ‘You’re Lionel Richie’, Mogwai take their so-called ‘post-rock/shoe-gaze’ style and tear up the rulebook, producing an album that is wonderfully inventive and fresh in scope.
Reunited with Paul Savage, producer of the band’s landmark debut album ‘Young Team’, the closing three tracks in particular might be viewed as classic Mogwai, slow-burning and epic, but other parts of the album represent something of a departure for the band, with the Godspeed You! Black Emperor-influenced, piano-based track, ‘Letters to the Metro’ and the heavily distorted, rare vocal track on ‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’.
The album and song titles show this is a band with tongue stuck firmly in cheek, their humour and far-reaching abilities self-evident on what is an expressive, genre-defining and unselfconscious album.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole with Quarry Players

NICOLE Kidman has just received a Best Actress nomination in the upcoming Academy Awards for her taut and drawn portrayal of Becca in 'Rabbit Hole', John Cameron Mitchell’s movie adaptation of David Lindsay-Aubaire’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.
Playing a sort of Stepford wife character who spends her days tending to her garden, Kidman’s performance is a restrained and gut-wrenching examination of the problems dealing with grief - the central theme of a play that is held as one of the greats of American theatre.

Having secured the rights to the play and a top class director in Dara Carolan, an accomplished playwright, actor and graduate of the London Guildhall who has appeared at Ireland’s top venues and toured internationally, the Limerick based theatre group Quarry Players have pulled off something off a coup in that they will be producing the Irish premiere of the renowned play at the Belltable next week.

“We got the rights after a year and a half looking for them for Quarry Players, so it is nice timing to be able to jump on the fact that the movie hasn’t been released in Ireland yet - it has in America to great acclaim, and we are looking to jump on that bandwagon over here,” says local actor Zeb Moore, who stars in the play as Becca’s husband, Howie, and is PRO with the Quarry Players.
Indeed, the acclaimed movie is released on these shores four days ahead of Quarry’s production, which boasts a cast of five; Moore, Michelle O’Flanagan, who plays the Kidman character, Niamh O’Meara, Bernie Hayes and Conor J Ryan.

“It is great timing with the Oscar announcement, but this piece is renowned as one of the best to come out of America,” says Zeb, well known on the local scene for star turns with Quarry over the past six years, plus work with Impact, Teaspach and his own theatre company Magic Roundabout, whose one man play Spinal Krapp took him to UnFringed and Electric Picnic last year.

Rabbit Hole was brought to Quarry’s attention, “nearly two years ago”, Zeb explains, and it had a dramatic effect on the theatre group.

“When we read it, we all fell in love with it. It just fell into the right place this time around, when we sought the rights, they were available and we decided to move on it,” he says.

The play is a fluid one and largely plot-free, save for the central strand, which deals with Howie and Becca’s attempts to deal with the tragic death of their four year old son. However, there are elements of wit and humour, and the tagline runs that “no-one would ever call Rabbit Hole a comedy about grief, it is a play that shows how close comedy and tragedy really are”.

“The play pivots around the family and how each individual family member copes with this traumatic experience, and whether they can move on,” explains Zeb.
“In saying that, even though the context of the play is based around this tragic accident, the play doesn’t dwell on that sentimentality aspect, there are comedic parts - the attraction to the play is the normality of it, these are real people, this is how life goes on, rather than being dramatised,” he reasons.
Zeb adds: “There is a lot of wit and humour in it”.

Originally from Dublin, Zeb moved to Limerick 11 years ago with his wife.

“We said we would give it a year and if it didn’t work out, we could leave. That was 11 years ago, which is great,” he laughs, his most recent work as casting director on The Outlaw Concy Ryan for RTE’s Storyland project.

A chance encounter several years ago with a director led to a small film role, and Zeb hasn’t looked back. A nephew of Eurovision star Butch Moore, he is a firm believer in getting involved in all aspects of theatre in order to learn the craft. He is staunchly proud of Quarry, who have been an established theatre group for close on 40 years.

“Quarry Players have prided themselves on several Irish premieres in the past, nor is this the biggest production,” he explains. “They have run for 40 years and have had huge, significant successes in the past.

“This production is different in-so-far as it is not your typical mainstream piece, it is a little bit off a tangent, it was just that the writing was so brilliant that it drew us in,” he adds.
Rabbit Hole runs in the Belltable on February 8-12. For bookings see here.

Album review - Owensie 'Aliens'

(Out On A Limb)

THE Limerick based independent record label, Out On A Limb, have something of a nose for talent that is perhaps not sufficiently recognised in Irish music circles.
The label - run on a ‘DIY ethos’ and punching far, far above its weight - was set-up in 2003 to facilitate the release of “Is It OK To Be Loud, Jesus?”, the debut album from hard-rockin’ and now defunct local band Giveamanakick. In the intervening years, OOAL has released albums by Windings, Crayonsmith, Hooray for Humans, Rest and Ten Past Seven, providing an outlet for some of the finest in up and coming Irish music, refusing to be just limited to the confines of the burgeoning Limerick music scene.

OOAL return this February with the debut release from Michael Owens (no relation!), who styles himself under the monicker, ‘Owensie’.

A haunting collection of warm and atmospheric classical guitar-based tracks with a folk-tinged sentimentality, the talented Dublin songwriter has an interesting background as a former member of the considerably more intense Puget Sound and Terrordactyl, and is currently a guitarist with rock outfit Realistic Train. Terrordactyl indeed contained members of jaw-droppingly loud rock band Adebisi Shank, so Owens’ background is on far different terrain to the flamenco-bossanova, cinematic landscapes present on this album.

A nine-track album that boasts reference points as disparate as Jose Gonzalez and Albert Niland, Owens’ vocals verge from the haunting to the sublime on ‘Aliens’, with his rock-background informing proceedings and lifting the album out of the ordinary, singer-songwriter territory.
Because of that the opener and title-track is a brooding and unsettling offering, with ringing guitar strings and a haunting violin accompaniment, while the piano-based ‘Cat and Mouse’ offers a gorgeously warm counter-point with superb harmonies.

This is a deeply affecting and addictive album that contains several layers on repeated listens, the simplicity of the music at first a distraction, the depth of feeling gradually becoming more apparent than first glance suggests. The jazzy ‘Cat and Mouse’, largely without vocals, is upbeat and allows Owens to flex his considerable guitar skills, while the more urgent, Chequerboard-esque ‘Ronda’ swells with strings.

Overall, this often malevolent album is deceptive, dark and takes some listening to appreciate its depth, but when you do, it becomes eminently rewarding, and a fitting addition to the OOAL stable.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Phantom Band play Dolan's Warehouse on Thursday

SOME bands are reclusive by their very nature, shunning the spotlight in favour of allowing their creative output to speak for itself. The appropriately named The Phantom Band are such a band, a Scottish six-piece who have made avoiding the limelight into something approaching an art form.
The band’s propensity for recording densely layered and exciting, on-the-edge music has, however, seen them gain plaudits and critical acclaim for their 2009 debut Checkmate Savage and last year’s superb follow-up, The Wants, thereby ironically exposing the band to the outside world via the applause they have received.
You get the feeling that this exposure might not sit well with the Glasgow-based band that, when they were starting out initially, performed and released music under alternating identities, from Robert Redford to Robert Louis Stevenson.

“We didn’t do anything by design - we didn’t set out to get that acclaim, that is maybe something that has come (as a result),” says Andy Wake, the band’s keyboardist.
“You can hear bands that are formed in order to get a record deal and get popular, you can hear it in the music and you can hear that in bands that definitely do not do that. The fact is that we were never big ‘showmen’. The whole thing about the name changes wasn’t to be cool or enigmatic, it was the opposite, we were trying to erase our history a bit, because we weren’t sure what we were doing, we were just messing around, we never formed a band with any aspirations, we were more of a collective than a band, it wasn’t settled, more just something do on a Friday night, have a couple of beers and make music and have fun.”
When they eventually settled on their present moniker, it reflected their desire to remain “under the radar”.

“When people were offering us gigs, we were never doing them to try and build up popularity, we were doing them for the experience of doing them,” says Andy.
“We didn’t want people to be able to follow us from one gig to the next, because we wanted to be able to start from scratch every time. We only stuck with the name once we were happier with what we were doing live and we were starting to form a collection of pieces of music that we would play, and the whole thing about the name emerged because people referred to us as the ‘phantom’ band, in reference to the fact that we were changing the name and staying under the radar, and it is still something that we do from time to time.”

Indeed, after the success of the first album, the band went back to this tactic when sketching out pieces for the follow-up. The Wants is a weird, claustrophobic album that channels influences as broad as Animal Collective, Berlin-era Bowie, Brian Eno, The Walkmen and The National, and is an elusive, mercurial offering that is as enigmatic as the band themselves. Unlike their first record, the songs for which were built up over a period of playing time them live, The Phantom Band literally locked themselves away for six months in a remote studio to record the follow-up, with only a broad canvas on which to paint, allowing the process to dictate the output.

“We were locked in and weren’t let out until we recorded an album,” laughs Andy. “The first time we went into the studio with some things already finalised as tracks because we had been playing them live for a couple of years, but this time we went in with pretty much nothing and were holed up for quite a while and writing it as we went along,” he explains.
“To be honest, it was pretty stressful, there was a lot of arguing, because nobody had a clear idea of what direction each track had. You end up fighting over it and trying to pull it in different directions, so you can probably hear it in the music that it does that, but it was quite interesting for us, the idea that on a different day, the whole album could have gone in a different direction altogether.”

The band employed a succession of strange and colourful instruments during this time in the studio to help with the creative process. The instruments, both home made and hard-bought, ranged from bits of furniture to a toy drum machine and FX pedals to the studio fire extinguisher.

“It is something we have always done. We don’t use these instruments to be wacky or to try and be original, we just use them because we find the sound of them interesting,” explains Andy with a laugh.
“You might say they (the albums) are quite layered and we use the studio a lot when we record, we almost use it as an instrument and really exploit it.”

Asked about playing live, which the band will do this week in Dolan’s Warehouse, the Scot is as definitive as he can be on the band’s live direction, which he says he can’t wait to bring to Limerick.
“We have always had the mindset that the live sound and the recorded sound are never going to be the same, so we don’t fight against that, we use it as something to make the live shows as interesting as we can and not replicate the album exactly,” he says.
“Obviously you can only do that to a certain degree, because people want to hear music that they know, if they have the album, but really we are conscious of making it a different experience. I have heard good things about Dolan’s, hopefully it goes well,” he adds.

The Phantom Band play Dolan’s Warehouse this Thursday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bottom Dog bring New York production of Romeo and Juliet to The Loft

LOCAL theatre company Bottom Dog have teamed up with the New York based Forestburgh Theatre Arts Centre to present a co-production of Romeo and Juliet in the Loft venue this week.
The innovative local theatre company have joined forces with the New York based company to present an exciting version of the classic play, which Liam O’Brien of Bottom Dog describes as “fast, furious and edgy”.
“It is going to be a very slick, very fast production, just six actors but they are going to be doubling up all of the roles and there is a modern, contemporary rock score,” explained the well-known local actor. “It is just 80 minutes, so it is very much for those afraid of Shakespeare and three hour productions and features a punky, American cast in modern clothing, flying through the stuff, using music to make it very accessible.”
It was Liam’s own trip to the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre in California last summer that spawned the idea for a co-production, with one his fellow actors involved with the Forestburgh group, who are based in the Catskills of New York.
“We wanted to do something between the companies and either do something over there or them come over here,” explains Liam of this first international collaboration between the groups. “The first step is them bringing this production of Romeo and Juliet over here, and one of the actors is a tutor that taught us so there is a real Steppenwolf flavour to it.”
“It is a cracking story, but doesn’t get bogged down in the minutiae and the heavy detail - it has been condensed into a very accessible play and it will be exciting to see how Americans do Shakespeare as well. They have a great love for it, but they will approach it in a very different way to its normal production,” he adds.
The group are also set to tour around Ireland while they are here, and will be performing Romeo and Juliet in Friars Gate Theatre in Kilmallock during their Limerick run, and interest is high in the collaboration.
Romeo and Juliet runs in the Loft on Wednesday, January 19 and Friday and Saturday, January 21-22 at 7.30pm. For bookings call 085-2085737.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Album review - Iron and Wine 'Kiss Each Other Clean'

Iron and Wine
'Kiss Each Other Clean'

SAM Beam, better known under his performing moniker Iron and Wine, has completed something of a quiet, understated journey with this, his fourth studio album, shedding the earlier, admittedly simplistic perception of him as something of a whiskered and bearded singer-songwriter, whispering into his microphone, his folk-songs subtle and understated, and similarily lacking in ambition.
A mere glimpse at the retro, psychedilic-drenched album cover suggests from the off that Beam is going to advance the journey began on his previous record, the excellent The Shepherd’s Dog, which made many Best Of lists on its release in 2007.
He likened that album to an attempt to replicate something in the vein of Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, moving from the acoustic-driven whisper of The Creek Drank the Cradle and Our Endless Numbered Days to a fuller, more complete sound, and has proclaimed this
album to be “more of a focused pop record”, his first since he signed to Warners/4AD,
leaving the Sub Pop label, home of Fleet Foxes and Postal Service and more.
It is the many layers and quirky rhythms on this album that surprise the most, notably the waves of sound on superb opener Walking Far From Home, the African influenced Monkeys
Uptown - which references the throbbing electric guitar sounds prevalent on a Tinariwen record - the steady, brooding closer Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me, and the more subtle, minimalist and off-centre groove of Rabbit Will Run.
The eye-opening jazz-prog-beat of Big Burned Hand is the biggest departure for Beam, who has effortlessly turned his hand at producing a much richer sound here.
The do-wap oohs and aahs of Half Moon are more of a throwback to his earlier output, as is the
softer, Bon Iver-esque Godless Brother In Love.
However, it is the fizzing melodies of Glad Man Singing that catch the ear repeatedly, the piano driven track bustling with electro-flourishes and reminiscent of AstralWeeks. Superb.
If this is the second twist on Beam’s musical journey, we can’t wait to see where the road goes next.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Choice Music Prize shortlist for Irish Album of 2010 announced

The shortlist for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of 2010 has just been announced, and here it is:

Adebesi Shank - This is the Second Album of a band called Adebisi Shank (Richter Collective)
The Cast of Cheers - Chariot
Cathy Davey - The Nameless (Hammer Toe Records)
Fight Like Apes - The Body of Christ & The Legs of Tina Turner (Model Citizen)
Halves - It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever) (Hate is The Enemy)
Imelda May – Mayhem (Universal)
James Vincent McMorrow – Early in The Morning (Universal)
O Emperor - Hither Thither (Universal)
Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History (Kitsune)
Villagers - Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

No major shocks outside of the Cast of Cheers, whose album were are unfamiliar with, a situation we will be shortly rectifying. Hard to look beyond the Villagers album as a winner, but there are certainly some very deserving names on the list, including two of our favourite albums last year, O Emperor's Hither Thither and Halves' It Goes, It Goes (Forver and Ever). That said, all of the names on the list are deserving, but no shout for Limerick bands Windings and Brad Pitt Light Orchestra is a bit disappointing..

The event itself takes place in Vicar Street on Thursday, March 3 and the winning act will receive 10,000, a prize fund provided by IMRO and IRMA. We will be there as usual to cast out eye over the acts and await the winner with interest. Tickets are now available from Ticketmaster and more information is available here.