Duke Special ::: Coughlans

 

 

This intrepid reviewer had never had the pleasure  of seeing the duke live before.

He delivered a rousing set full of incident and fancy. The night began rather inauspiciously in Coughlans. I found myself in the unenviable position of having two tickets and no means of offloading them. Thankfully the lovely Gillian and co. were obliging enough to take them off my hands. The lovely people at Coughlans were then kind enough to allow me to interview and watch the gig gratis ( Thanks Edel).

 

A brief interview followed where I learnt that Peter ( Duke Special) discovered his love of music by howling along to his granny’s version of Danny Boy. Thankfully he has come a long way since then and his one man show zipped along all too fast. There was an incident of a lost umbrella and a borrowed hat but we shant dwell on the detail.

 

Duke Special remains one of Ireland’s foremost virtuosos and his talent is allowed to shine in a venue as intimate as Coughlans. I was mightily impressed and I certainly will be catching him the next time he comes to town. If you have or have not I recommend you do the same.

 

9/10

 

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Gavin James::: Cyprus Avenue 23/3/13

Ed Shearan, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, you boys have taken one hell of a beating…at least ye should have. Add to this ignomious roster the questionable ‘talents’ of one mr Gavin James.

I’m loathe to write bad reviews as I don’t like slating struggling artists but this was simply dreadful. The earnest finger plucking, the banter free ‘banter’ , the eyes closed emoting. This type of dirgeful crooning needs to be put in a burlap sack and thrown in a river.

It’s simply not for me and at 21 James is sure to improve but on the evidence of last night he needs to go back to the songwriting handbook before being let on the road again.

Before The Ghosts and Monorail::: The Roundy 14/02/13

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Its the most romantic night of the year dontcha know. What better way to spend Hallmark day than in the company of Eugene O’Callaghan & Dave O’Keeffe A.K.A Before The Ghosts and Monorail.

Monorail got things ticking over nicely before Eugene and co. took to the stage. They belted out several standards with gusto but the highlight of the night was a belting cover of Hipsters anthem ‘wake up’ by Arcade Fire. The band captured the euphoria of the choon perfectly and they really got the audience on their toes.

It was the perfect antidote to the cloying dinner for two attitude that generally dominates this night and I for one will be getting my greasy mits on a copy of of their album ‘Maps’. You’ve been told, now do likewise

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Beach House::: Cork Opera House 27/10/12

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This was a gig that had been marked in my calendar since it was announced a few months back. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally had to compete with the Jazz festival but they managed ably and by the time they took to the stage the place was packed. All credit must be given to Mary Hickson of the Opera House in managing to bring such a name act to Cork.

They seem like an act that are uncomfortable with their relative fame. There’s an endearing kind of awkward reluctance to embrace the fact that they’ve managed to become so big. Beach House are not an outfit that roll with rock star swagger and they’re as about as unassuming an act as you’re likely to find. In fact the banter about an ‘after’s party’ was probably the least relaxed bit of class clowning you’re likely to see from an act of Beach House’s size.

I missed the support act owing to my own stupidity, yes the ticket did say 8 and not 9. Good one Niall. But I managed to get over the scheduling mix-up and arrived to a seatless Opera house just as the main event took to the stage. A quick shimmy through the throng and I’d gotten myself a rather nifty spot up the front.

The audience were in fine voice and roared their approval for the classics from 2010’s Teen Dream. ‘Silver soul’, ‘Walk in the park’, and ‘Norway’ got things going in a set that was largely dominated by tunes from Teen Dream and their new long player Bloom. It was no bad thing, they were joined on stage by a drummer and managed to create a huge sound. It was perhaps strange for some for an act that made their mark on the intimate side of the musical spectrum but for my money it worked and by the time they rattled through ‘Zebra’ the crowd was well in hand. It was a great showing with Victoria hammering the keyboard with gusto and Alex really working through his paces with some fantastically shimmery guitar work .

I didn’t even bother trying to get to the bar at this point as I’d worked hard for my spot up the front and there was no way I was missing a minute of this. They finished with their final song  ‘10 mile stereo’ , Victoria had said to me in an earlier interview that the band were very careful in how they licence their music but if the amount of camera phones that sprang into action with this tune then their lending of the tune to Guinness was worth the gamble in terms of recognition.

There was never any danger of an abrupt end to proceedings and audience were baying for more .They retook the stage to deliver an absolutely belting encore with ‘Irene’. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable effort from Baltimore’s most recognisable export since The Wire

Fred:::The Pavilion, Cork, 25.10.12

Courtesy of Wearenoise.com

Fred cost me a tenner tonight – I ill-advisedly bet a friend that the band did not have a science-related song. I was wrong. I’d forgotten the wonderfully titled ‘The Wondering Geologist’ off 2002’s Can’t Stop I’m Being Timed.

I only mention this as Fred were promising to delve into all four of their albums as they returned to the shores of the Lee for a hometown gig. It was always likely to be a suitably joyous affair. Over the course of their career, Cork’s finest have managed to develop a reputation for being tremendous fun live – on the back of this they can always count on a devoted crowd when they’re on their home turf. Natural bias aside, they’re in my opinion one of the most accomplished live acts in the business and they never fail to entertain. Tonight wasn’t any different.

Dublin five piece The Gorgeous Colours warmed up the crowd with a nice set that mixed tracks from their EP and their forthcoming album, their combination of pop-tinged ditties and soaring melodies got things ticking over nicely. Highlight of their short set was the wonderfully melodic ‘It’s ok to be normal’.

Before long the main event took to the stage. Bouncing into view with their typical blend of energy and stage presence, Fred launched straight into a set that encompassed most of their back catalogue highlights, and then some. This was as promised, one for the fans. There were plenty of numbers from the mists of their near 15 years plus of making music.

‘Moonjuice’, their first ever recorded track, was an appropriate choice and it got the place moving. The crowd lapped up every minute of it. They nearly lifted the roof with ‘Four Chords and the truth’, Jamie Hanrahan making a rare foray to the mike for this spoken word-ish belter from their second album. Frontman Joe O’Leary was clearly enjoying himself and he worked the crowd for all it was worth, the banter was flying.

Here were an act on familiar territory and dipping in and out of their musical history. It was a fantastically energetic and raucous affair. The boys even had a few ladies from the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra join them on stage for two tracks to add to the carnival atmosphere. By the time crowd favourites ‘Skyscrapers’ and ‘Running’ were aired we’d already had a conga line and an impatient demand for acknowledgement for the ‘girls from Sherkin Island’.

Acknowledgement was theirs; it was just one of those kinds of nights. There was a healthy mix of tunage from Fred’s back catalogue on display, it was great to hear forgotten favourites from Making Music so You don’t Have to were sitting comfortably alongside newer material like ‘Trial By Fire’.

Far too quickly the set zipped by and before we knew it the encore was done and dusted and Fred departed the stage leaving their audience sweaty and exhilarated. Playing your hometown can, as they admitted themselves, often be like playing in front of your relatives but there was no self-consciousness, stumbled lines or family arguments here. The Fred boys came to town and left the Pav conquered in their glorious wake.

Hello Moon and The Great Balloon Race ::: The Roundy, Cork 05.10.12

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The G-Man is quickly proving adept at putting on some great shows in Cork. Hot on the trail of Little X’s for Eyes and Yawning Chasm comes a double act in The Roundy. Local lads The Great Balloon Race shared the bill with Dublin’s Hello Moon to deliver a cracking evening’s entertainment.

Things kicked off shortly past ten when The Great Balloon Race took to the stage. Their unique jazz-folk stylings worked a treat and the crowd who ventured out and braved the elements on a wet and cold Friday night were treated to a storming set from the Leeside quintet. Those present were shown a masterclass in thrilling bass and storming percussion. This was complemented by not one but two saxophones (Tenor and Alto) that all combined to produce a delicious jazz stew. Highlights included a rather snazzy rendition of their song ‘Grog’. Specifically, what worked well was they mixed in their instrumental numbers to good effect without losing their momentum. The lads were onstage for just over an hour and they delivered an extremely tight set.

 

After a brief interval, Hello Moon brought their jangly power pop to the crowd. It was my first time hearing them live and they drove through their paces with some style. It was their first time playing Cork and they even managed it short a member (fnaar). If this is the kind of set they deliver when they’re shy a mooner, then I cannot wait to see them when they have they’re packing a full complement.

They happily informed the crowd that their track ‘new Day’ had featured on a ‘not very good’ Hollywood movie and the song went down a storm. They got the banter going well throughout and informed us that the G-Man was being especially demanding in wanting a one hour set from them. At no stage did their set feel laboured and their poptastic, guitar-driven foot stompers certainly pleased the crowd. They might not be used to longer sets but it certainly didn’t show.

All in all it was a fantastic night with the experimental noodling of The Great Balloon Race perfectly balanced by the fuzzy power pop of Hello Moon. Two acts for the price of one and not a dissatisfied punter in sight.

 

Le Galaxie::: The Pavilion 28/09/12

Le Galaxie have been building a considerable reputation as a very special live act off the back of some very warmly received slots at Electric Picnic and Indiependence to name but too. So when I heard they were playing a free gig in The Pavilion it wasn’t a difficult decision to pop my head in the door. The Dublin electro-dance merchants didn’t disappoint. They delivered a fast and furious one hour set that lifted the roof off the venue.

From the off they played with a real energy and enthusiasm that translated to the audience and provided the kind of night that is all too rare.  Highlights of the set included a rousing rendition  of their recent single The Nightcaller and terrific versions of Heat City and Midnight Mdnight.

 Often electronic gigs can be sedate affairs with the guys stuck behind a keyboard syndrome dampening proceedings. This was never a worry here,frontman Michael delivered the kind of frantic Duracell bunny on speed performance that left the crowd crying out for more. The Pav  witnessed an act who seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves and giving the kind of assured, exuberant performance that marks them out as a live act not be missed.

Efterklang ::: Cork Opera House 15/9/12.

What a night. What a band. You knew as soon as the Orchestra took to the stage that you were in for a special night. Copenhagen’s finest exports were in town and they gave a performance to remember. From the opening strains of Hollow Mountain they gave a thrilling show that not once left the audience in anything other than a state of delight.

Kildare’s Inni-K gave fine support on the night and delivered her set with aplomb. Then around 9 bells the main event took to the stage. Never ones to shy away from innovation Efterklang were performing their new album with a 24 piece orchestra onstage. They delivered Piramida in its entirety and displayed a modesty and graciousness that instantly endeared them to their audience. The swirling of the strings and the brass allied to Casper Clausen’s vocals was all backed up with subtle bits of electronic aspects that worked in perfect harmony to deliver as striking and yet charming a performance as you’re likely to see.

From bass player Rasmus belatedly giving the album cover a quick flash to the audience to Caspers half joking reluctance to (briefly) go into the albums recording there was as a real sense that here were an act that were enjoying themselves. Backed up by an incredible orchestra and with a frontman who seemed almost humbled by the crowd’s appreciation they stormed through their set and departed the stage to rapturous applause. They came back on and played ‘Monopolist’ from their album Tripper and ‘Modern Drift’ from Magic Chairs, they left with a more than well-deserved standing ovation but the applause and cheering continued so an unscheduled second airing of ‘Ghosts’ had to be delivered. Nobody seemed to mind too much. In short this was a fantastic night’s entertainment from an act at the height of their creative powers.

Peter Hook & The Light – Murphy’s Little Big Weekend, Cork, 25.08.12

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There’s a certain mindset that views Hooky’s touring of Joy Division numbers as almost sacrilegious. I don’t share that mindset; the man was there from the beginning, end of. Himself and Barney Sumner mightn’t be talking anymore but musicians falling out is nothing new, and this is as close as anyone of my generation is going to get to hearing the legendary Mancunian outfit live.

Anyways, musico-political minefields aside, there is always a certain degree of trepidation when approaching a gig like this. Are there going to be actual fans here or eventers out for the night? Will the famous bass man be able to deliver on the night? Thankfully the place was jam-packed with believers who were witness to Peter Hook and his band The Light delivering a rousing set.

Support on the night came from local boys Dead School who didn’t leave the side down and rocketed through a very pleasing set. They’ve had a very busy year and it must really put the crown on things to support an act like Peter Hook on their home turf. Nice work by the lads and it was good to see them in the crowd after, just as big fan boys as the rest of us.

Everything was here for the casual Joy Division afficionado. His voice mightn’t be the best but Hooky grabbed the crowd by the collective throat from the minute the bass strains of ‘Atmosphere’ kicked in. From here on in, we got to see a master at work. Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s seminal masterpiece was played in its entirety and he even managed to go for the elusive double encore, finishing off proceedings with ‘Transmission’ and the ever popular ‘Love will tear us apart’.

It was a decidedly pleasant night all round and showcased the venue on a balmy Saturday night. Listening to the soaring beat of ‘She’s lost control’ so near to the banks of the Lee isn’t a memory anyone who was there is likely to forget anytime soon.