Archive for the 'Music' Category

Nov 24 2008

Why, Oh Why, Oh God Why?

Published by under Blog,Music

5 responses so far

Nov 17 2008

Blog Catchup – Dirty Pretty Things

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Dirty Pretty Things

I was in two minds about going to the gig. I was still feeling unwell and my couch looked very inviting. But it was Dirty Pretty Things second last gig in Ireland ever (as they are disbanding at the end of their current tour), so I wanted to make an effort to see them.


Once again, proving to be a great drawing power, on Thursday November 6th, Greystones Theatre played host to Dirty Pretty Things and three support acts.


Local boys, More Tiny Giants kicked things off with an excellent heavy rock set, but it was Apollo Sunshine who really got the night started. Their last couple of tracks, where they practiced group percussion, were particularly exciting to watch and the crowd returned the energy tenfold.


A short while later, Dirty Pretty Things took to the stage and a crowd of mostly younger people (younger than me, at least) went berserk. The band attracts a strong fan base and there was definitely a few fanatics in the crowd.


The first four tracks had me gripped. Frenetic, fun and bigger than the stage itself, these tracks showed the band at their best, better than The Libertines, better than Babyshambles. Following up with a couple of tracks that sounded like they could have been covers of songs by the Sex Pistols and The Clash respectively (I say this as a compliment), the band seemed to have great flow.



Then it seemed to die off somewhat. With the exception of the scary drummer, the energy dissipated and it started to feel like they were just going through the motions. When the lead singer of a supposedly bad-ass punk band asks, “Can you please move back a few steps”, you know they’ve lost their mojo.


For the last few songs I retired to the bar and for all the good the band were doing, I may as well be have been listening to the album on my iPod. The music was decent, but there was no energy or charisma in the live performance at this stage. Catching the last couple of tracks as I sipped a Lemsip in the bar, I wondered if the now tired band would have liked to join me.


Their music is good and they play well together. When their energy is high, they sound fantastic live, but if they can’t sustain that energy for one full set, then maybe it’s best they go their separate ways.




Greystones TheatreThere is a lot of great gigs and events coming up in Greystones over the next couple of months including Cathy Davey, Director, Jack L, Brian Kennedy, The Dublin Comedy Improv and a lot more. I’ll follow this up with a full listing and give you some idea of the shows I plan on seeing. If anyone wants to join me, let me know.

7 responses so far

Oct 22 2008

If You Could Read My Mind

Published by under Blog,Music

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
When you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won’t read that book again
Because the ending’s just too hard to take!

I‘d walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let’s be real;
I never thought I could act this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it.
I don’t know where we went wrong,
But the feeling’s gone
And I just can’t get it back.

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You’ll know that I’m just tryin’ to understand
The feelin’s that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it.
I don’t know where we went wrong,
But the feelin’s gone
And I just can’t get it back!

– Gordon Lightfoot


And here’s Johnny Cash‘s great version from the Hundred Highways album:


6 responses so far

Oct 16 2008

“Duke, I Am Your Father”

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review,Night Out

Neil HannonIt annoys me that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind going in to see the Duke Special and Divine Comedy gig. I had just had a bad few days and, if I’m honest, if someone had told me that the gig was cancelled, I wouldn’t have been particularly upset.

But it was not cancelled and I had bought 12 tickets, all of which were in my inside jacket pocket, so there was no possibility of skipping off home. I lifted my head up, grinned a grin and went for it.



At first, I was afraid,

I was petrified,

Dave Couse was on piano

And we nearly cried,

But then he wasn’t all that bad

Depending on the drinks you’d had

And we grew strong

We learned to ignore his songs……


Ahem, yes, we survive the support act Dave Couse (formerly of A-House), which began with promise but ended up delivering to us an irritating man on a piano with two underused band members at either side of the stage. Still, we weren’t waiting long for the main event.



Neil HannonDivine Comedy is one of the first bands I was truly fanatical about. Neil Hannon‘s quirky powerhouse vocals hypnotised me and his mixture of incredible melodies, colossal orchestral pieces and very funny, clever lyrics showed me that there was far more to modern music than boyband pop, sampled dance tracks and heavy metal head banging, all of which I saw too much of in the early nineties. His was a fresh, intelligent sound and I lapped it up.

Neil Hannon & Duke SpecialJump forward to the early noughties (or is it naughties?) and we were in the bar in the Olympia Theatre waiting for Juliet Turner to kick off. We were skipping the support act, as we were expecting Juno Falls (Lottie is NOT a fan), but then heard a frenetic vaudevillian sound emanating from the venue beside us. I poked my head in and was instantly transfixed by Duke‘s look, the music and the energy that was bounding off the stage. Beer in hand, we cheered and clapped like devoted fans. And from that moment on, we were exactly that.



So, when I first heard that the pair would do a joint concert, as part of the Amnesty International Small Places Tour I made sure to have good seats. On Tuesday night, our group took up one front row table and two second row tables in Vicar Street, and I think it’s fair to say that none of us were disappointed (no Maxi, you cannot have a refund).

Duke Special and Divine Comedy

It was billed as a duel between Duke and Hannon, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Both artists are known for being theatrical, so it was unlikely to be dull, at least.

The evening alternated between duets and solo tunes, interspersed with a lot of fun light banter between the duo. Beginning with Duke’s song Everybody Wants a Little Something, it was great to hear their voices complement each other so beautifully. Neil Hannon & Duke SpecialThe set up of two grand pianos placed opposite each other was reminiscent of the ‘duel’ between Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Okay, Neil Hannon didn’t fire a cannon ball at Duke, but both did try to outdo each other, first through music, then through arm wrestling. The swashbuckling was a disaster but their lightsaber fight was nothing short of brilliant.

They challenged each other to do one another’s songs. Duke Special did a fine rendition of Mastermind, while Hannon’s No Cover Up actually added to Duke’s already sublime tune. But it was two cover versions that stole the night. A dazzling version of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted was charming and sweet, while You’re So Vain was performed so uproariously and skilfully that I don’t want to know hear any other version again.


Duke Special vs Divine Comedy from darraghdoyle on Vimeo.


Neil HannonThroughout, Duke on piano far outplayed Hannon. While Hannon’s mistakes were endearing and very funny, there were too many to allow them go without comment. After a disastrous Festive Road (a Divine Comedy song) he said it wasn’t about accuracy but about feeling. Funny and full of feeling as they may have been, Hannon could only show his brilliance when allowing Duke to take the lion’s share of the piano work. Then he could concentrate on his singing and worry less about the technicalities of chords and hitting the right notes. Songs like Our Mutual Friend and Everybody Wants to Be A Cat really let him shine.



And now he’s back

From outer space

He just walked on

With that big stupid ugly grin upon his face

We should have all got locked

We surely dropped the ball

But how were we to know he would come back on stage at all……


Yes, they actually allowed Dave Couse back on stage. Strangely, it wasn’t awful. In fact, they all combined to deliver a fantastic version of Couse’s Endless Art. The song’s theme is something that means a lot to both Hannon and Duke. Artists first and foremost, putting the music before fame and fortune, both will have far reaching legacies for some time to come.

They finished the night with the duet they recorded together last year Our Love Goes Deeper Than This, and Hannon’s Songs of Love from his Short Album About Love – he also reminded Duke that it was from Father Ted. 🙂

Duke Special

It was a superb gig – innovative, witty and full of joy. The showmanship and differing but collaborative style made it so much fun. I am already looking forward to seeing Duke play again in November when his tour kicks off. Maybe he’ll bring Neil along for the ride. We live in hope.

Neil Hannon

Duke Special

Neil Hannon

7 responses so far

Oct 10 2008

The Songs That Go Like This

Phantom of the OperaI‘ve mentioned once or twice (or three times or four times) before that I like musicals. I’m a huge fan and am already looking forward to New York in January when we will get to see Wicked and Avenue Q on Broadway. So, I was very excited to hear that my local theatre in Greystones (just 32 seconds walk from my apartment) was putting on a night of music from Broadway and the West End.

Music of the Night, featuring some of the best songs from the biggest shows, was performed by Paul McGowan, Ben Morris, Aisling Sullivan, Niall Morris and Róisín Sullivan. Each of them brought something different to the table, whether it be Niall’s quirky tenor or Róisín’s sweet and flawless vocals. In the packed theatre, all the patrons both young and old, had a great time.


The first half of Act One was nice. That’s as far as I can go – it was some nice singing of some nice perennials. It opened with a selection of old style Hollywood classics such as Oh What a Beautiful Morning, The Street Where You Live and Over the Rainbow. Then it changed pace a bit with the crowd-pleasing Grease numbers, Hopelessly Devoted and You’re the One That I Want, along with Any Dream Will Do from Joseph. But it was Ben Morris’s rendition of Gethsemane that really got the evening started for me. He was truly fantastic. Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my all time favourite musicals and Gethsemane is in the running for my favourite song from a musical. I have heard countless different versions of it over the years, some had me transfixed (particularly when it last played in the Point) and some had me reaching for the sick bucket, but Morris nailed it. It was the perfect combination of great singing and a fine acting performance. That marked the start of a spellbinding run of songs.

I Know Him So Well from Chess was beautiful, the Sullivan sisters’ voices complimenting each other perfectly, and the three songs from Les Mis, On My Own, Bring Him Home and One Day More, brought the first act to a triumphant close. One Day More sounded like there was an entire chorus on stage rather than just the five singers. Wonderful.


A light refreshment later (the Guinness in the Theatre is of good stock :)) and we were back for some excellent Phantom numbers, followed by a song a song that was new to me – Princess from A Man of No Importance about a girl from Roscommon destined for the lights of the big city. It was a great surprise and I look forward to hearing more from that musical.

It was a shame that they did only one song from Wicked, For Good, because the voices were great for the roles and I was shocked but thrilled to hear them do a fantastically hammed up The Song That Goes Like This from Spamalot and then an Avenue Q song (a musical known for its puppets), Purpose.

The only shadow on the evening, for me at least, was the finale. It’s understandable that they would do a couple of tracks from Mamma Mia! but it is a musical that I really don’t like. Still, a pleasantly silly encore of Any Dream Will Do left me leaving with a smile on my face.


Overall, it was a fun night. Though not groundbreaking, there were a few moments of perfection throughout. I look forward to their return around Christmas and I hope to drag a few more people along with me next time.


2 responses so far

Oct 08 2008

They’re Called Bui Doi

Published by under Blog,Music

Can someone please start a campaign to bring Miss Saigon back to Dublin? This is just so wonderful:


Also, this is just cute:

Now excuse me while I find out where Lottie left my testicles.

4 responses so far

Sep 22 2008

A Night To Remember John Brogan

John Brogan at the OlympiaLast night was a special event and I am lucky to have been in attendance. John Brogan, stage manager of the Olympia Theatre for over 30 years, celebrated his retirement with an amazing night of music.

Over the years, whether loved or hated by the thousands of acts he told “don’t put that there”, it’s clear that he left an indelible impression on everyone he met, helping bring their performances to life on stage. Many of those performers were delighted to return to the stage last night in his honour.


PantiI‘ll admit to being somewhat concerned when the larger than life drag queen, Panti, catwalked onto the stage to MC the proceedings, but I needn’t have worried. Her cynical charm and no bullshit commentary provided the balance the otherwise congratulatory evening required. Flirting with a collection of non responsive performers, she was very much in control of the night.


The first act brought on was the Coronas, an unusual but very welcome set. Unusual because they have not had a full performance at the Olympia yet and welcome because I’m a fan and my appetite is now whetted for their night in Greystones Theatre on October 5th. I found myself wondering if they set the tone for the night. I doubted it – and what came next proved it.


The Coronas


Twink and John BroganPerhaps the only thing more camp than Panti came on next – Twink. Thankfully, she didn’t sing. However, mad as the woman may be, she does give good theatre and her very heartfelt and genuine reminiscence of John Brogan was a note perfectly struck. Funny and warm, she was the ideal person to introduce the man of the hour, John Brogan, to a standing ovation.

Dustin the TurkeyUnfortunately, John was not given the opportunity to regale us with ancient anecdotes, as he was interrupted by a turkey. No, Pat Kenny did not show up, Dustin did. Slight but fun banter swiftly gave way for the return of Panti to introduce one of the beauties of the evening.


Francis Black has an Irish angel’s voice and she used it to its fullest performing two of her classics, Christy Hennessy’s All the Lies That You Told Me and the heartbreaking Wall of Tears. Perhaps it did bring a mushy element to the proceedings, but I loved it. Truly beautiful.


Brian KennedyNext we saw Brian Kennedy, AKA Mr. Cringe, so much so that I welcomed the distraction of the loud skangers behind me being kicked out of the theatre. He performed You Raise Me Up that brought tears to a lot fo people’s eyes. I was in tears because he seemed to go on forever. He pranced round the stage worse than Daniel O’Donnell. He was Eoin McLove without the humour. The man has a voice, but why he needs to girate his hips while using it is beyond me.


Declan O’Rourke may have been a little off form singing Gallileo, but his words about Brogan came from the heart. Brief and poignant, he simply said, “I‘m going to miss him“.


The Dubliners


This was the first time the remaining members of The Dubliners have come together for a public performance since the passing of Ronnie Drew. Indeed, yesterday was Ronnie’s month’s mind mass. It brought a sombre but respectful note to the evening Barney from The Dublinersand John Sheahan‘s poem to Ronnie made up for in pure emotion what it maybe lacked in eloquence.

The tiny leprechan on a banjo, Bernard ‘Barney‘ McKenna too was a treat. His rendition of The Dubliners classic I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me was one of the highlights of the evening. Overall the four members of The Dubliners (including just two original members) were wondeful, warm, funny and enthusiastic. Having whipped the crowd up, it was a shame the evening took a break after their set.


Though Tom Dunne looked surprisingly uncomfortable up on stage, Something Happens got the whole of the Olympia going again. Loud, abrasive and very tight, the eighties/early nineties Irish pop act proved they still have it. The now classic Parachute sounded fresher than ever.


Something Happens


One surprise of the evening was how fantastic Mary Coughlin was. Looking great and sounding rough and ready, but better than ever she teased us with I Wanna Be Seduced, before bowling me over with a fabulous I Would Rather Go Blind. Ireland’s original cabaret belle is back.


Mary Coughlin

One wonders if Declan O’Rourke, Barney McKenna and Sharon Shannon are drinking from the same water supply. Shannon’s diminutive frame came out on stage and we all got our binoculars ready. Her set was more an exercise in showing the band’s prowess than her own. The Penguin was flawless and though not as well received by the audience as some of the Dubliner’s songs, it was, for me, proof that Traditional Irish music isn’t going anywhere.


Camille O'SulivanThe ever wonderful, always spectacular, painfully sexy Camille O’Sullivan performed just three tracks, but stole the show as far as I’m concerned. In These Shoes, her perennial signature tune, introduced the band and set the tone. Here was the reason John Brogan did this job for as long as he did – to see truly great performers make the fullest use of his stage, to witness spectacles and to fall in love with the show.

For John, she dedicated Nick Cave’s The Ship Song:



Brian Whitehead, current manager of the Olympia and just one of the many John has worked with over almost 40 years, brought along Maureen Grant, the bar manager, to present John with a photograph of all the current staff and a Waterford Crystal commemorative bowl. A man of few words, John Brogan was clearly moved as he thanked everyone for making his time in the Olympia great. He begins his speech with “I‘d like to tell Brian Whitehead, I’m not leaving.” Laughter all around, but there was a slight hint of apprehension – afterall, he’s threatened retirement before.


John Brogan, Brian Whitehead, Maureen Grant


The Fleadh Cowboys, a band who were regulars in the early days of Midnight at the Olympia, finished the night. Their final song, Bob Dylan’s May You Stay Forever Young, was a nice sentiment, but judging by the respect and reverence everyone holds for this great man, I think John Brogan will forever be remembered, fondly and respectfully, as the old man of the Olympia. Have a good and long retirement, John.



5 responses so far

Sep 04 2008

Quick, Call The Lynch Mob

Published by under Blog,Music,Night Out

I think the first Stephen Lynch song I heard was Baby. It begins beautifully – a sweet song about his newborn child, and his glee “as my lady gives birth today“. All is going well until he looks at his newborn and says, “Damn that’s an ugly baby; Damn that’s an ugly ass baby“.

And so goes the comic musical stylings of Lynch. Having seen so many of his grainy YouTube videos (again and again and again). I was delighted to be able to see him live in the Olympia, not once but twice. On Monday night, Darragh and Niamh brought us along to see the American comedian and we coaxed Andrew, Anthony and Little Miss to come too. On Tuesday ngiht we went with Mr Rick and an old friend of his.

The support act on both nights, Ruth-Anne Cunningham, was woeful. She was woeful mostly due tot he fact that she did not fit in there. Somebody high up in the Bulmers Comedy Festival organisational hierarchy thouhgt it would make perfect sense NOT to put a comedian on a Lynch’s support act, but instead a young pop singer. Argh! What were they thinking? Anyway, Andrew speaks more on this moronic decision here.

Stephen Lynch

Once Stephen Lynch came on stage the ‘oldest Porno Theatre in Dublin’ erupted with cheers. On the first night I was one of the whoopers and screamers. However, being that I was in one of the boxes in the Olympia for the first time on Tuesday night (gloat, gloat, gloat), I was able to look across the audience and see the cries, the hollers, the adoration. It was particularly impressive to look out at the crowds and watch them sing along to every word of almost every one of his songs.

Audience at Stephen Lynch at the Olympia

And, of course, this is one of the great things about the Internet – the global community. The only way the vast majority of the audience would have ever heard Stephen Lynch’s music would have been on YouTube or through not-so-legal downloads. He has only ever been in Ireland once before for a short time,and he has never appeared on TV over here. And yet, so many people knew every word of Little Tiny Moustache, a song about his Nazi ex-girlfriend.

Stephen Lynch

I, of course, was one of the many singing my heart out. I delighted in hearing Lullaby, his sweet song explaining to his young daughter why Mommy is divorcing him.

He also brings a bit of an entourage with him in the form of his friends Rod Cone and David ‘Joberg’ Josefsberg. The chemistry between the guys on stage is electric. It seems so natural and spontaneous even though seeing the show twice proves otherwise. Joberg wrote one of the best songs of the night, which I was lucky enough to catch on camera. It’s called Dirty Sanchez:

Stephen Lynch

Stephen Lynch

Rick has more videos.

Darragh has some great pictures.

For further insight check out Andrew and Lottie‘s posts.

3 responses so far

Aug 13 2008

Is This The Best Ever Summer Song?

Published by under Blog,Music

Foley mentioned this song on his show today – the bastid didn’t play it though. I think it’s the best ever summer song (I was very young when it came out and probably didn’t appreciate the subtle sub-story beneath the deep lyrics):

What’s your favourite Summer Song? Here’s a list of the 100 best Summer Songs from Entertainment Weekly to help you decide.

12 responses so far

Aug 11 2008

Could This Be The Greatest Gig Ever?

Published by under Blog,Music

Okay, I think I’ve made it abundantly clear how much I enjoyed the Tom Waits gig. It was incredible – the greatest concert I’ve ever been to.


On October 14th there is a special gig in aid of Amnesty International in Vicar Street and two of my all time favourite artists are performing together.

It’s Duke Special vs. The Divine Comedy!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am. I have been a Neil Hannon fan for as long as I can remember and Duke is just godlike:

Duke Special, Lottie and Darren

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 13th and are €29 each. I will be going. Who’s joining me? Let me know and we can all make a night of it.

More info on Duke’s website or on

18 responses so far

Aug 05 2008

Tom Waits, The Rat Cellar, Friday August 1st 2008

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Tom WaitsBefore Friday night, I can’t think of a time I was truly starstruck. I was a bit tongue-tied when I met Gay Byrne last year, but apart from that, I don’t think I’ve ever come close to being starstruck.

When Tom Waits stepped out on stage, he looked ten feet tall. A combination of the rapturous cheers, the perfectly targeted spotlights and Waits’ natural charisma made him the most alluring man on the planet at that moment. I was in awe. I’m not sure if I cheered – I may have just stared. Of course, I was not as overcome as the American guy behind me who screamed uncontrollably and looked close to tears. Understandable!

All this, before the man sang a single note.

Tom WaitsBut that’s the thing about Tom Waits. I’m not sure anyone can really claim to be there purely for his singing ability. His croaking growl and haphazard disregard for his own melodies is trademark. If the pop divas of yesteryear made you soar high above the clouds with their voices, then Tom Waits grabs you by the throat and drags you through the muddy swamp with his.

It’s fair to say he’s unique. His sound is unmistakable. It’s his and only his and 3,000 people have gathered in a suitably theatrical circus tent, The Rat Cellar, in Phoenix Park to witness the spectacle.

And so, the show began. Lucinda began the set and Tom’s rhythmic stomp on the white powdered stage was further evidence that this night was going to be special both musically and visually. This weather-worn giant in his dirty hat and haggard suit took mere seconds to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Whoops and cheers ascended to the stage and within a few songs it was clear that Waits was enjoying this as much as we were. There was the briefest of moments when he was introducing one of the songs where he lost track of his story and just looked out across the adoring crowd. The man smiled. He was happy to be in Ireland. He was happy to be in Dublin. And at that moment, he was happy to be right there.

The tour is called Glitter and Doom. If the closing part of the show (including encore) is the ‘Glitter‘ section, then the first part must be ‘Doom‘. He played some of his darker, hell-born songs in this section. Raindogs, Falling Down, I’ll Shoot the Moon and one of my all time favourite Tom Waits tracks, God’s Away on Business would be depressing if they weren’t so feverishly frightening. Lottie captured a brilliant video of Gods Away on Business, for which I’ll be eternally grateful:

But it was the middle section, the piano set, that allowed Waits’ genius to shine. Incredible renditions of The House Where Nobody Lives and Innocent When You Dream followed a beautiful version of Tom Traubert’s Blues, a song that Waits seemed to sing purely for his own enjoyment. It was wonderful to see him enjoy a song so much that he has been performing since 1976. The track is still fresh today, as Lottie’s video shows:

Hoist That Rag, probably the closest thing that Tom has to a dance tune, was responsible for dragging people into the aisles. As the people left their seats, the samba rhythms and growling repetitive chorus provided one of the highlights of a night filled with highs.

And one of the greatest of these moments used the simplest of props to unparalleled effect. The creepy and funny tale of the Eyeball Kid was punctuated by Tom’s mirrorball hat, which sent shards of light around the tent. Spectacular in the truest sense of the word.

Tom Waits

We were six rows from the front, dead centre, the best seats in the house. I doubt I’m alone now in saying that the high ticket price was completely worth every cent. As we milled out of the tent after the nearly 2 1/2 hour set, I realised that I would happily pay the price again to re-live the show.

Tom Waits

In a year of musical highs, where I met the wonderful Juliet Turner, where I attended my first festival, where I got to dance with Duke Special and where I watched Bono’s image rile a JayZ crowd, at the Tom Waits gig in Phoenix Park on 1st August 2008, I was witness to an event, a moment that I will be talking about for decades. This was, and I say this without hesitation, the greatest gig I have ever seen.

Thank you, Lottie, for getting me the tickets for my birthday, and thank you, Tom Waits, for being a marvel, a giant, a presence, something I will never forget.

Outside the Rat Cellar in Phoenix Park

More photos of the night here.

12 responses so far

Jul 19 2008

Juliet Turner In Greystones Theatre

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Darren and a BumpRushing down to catch the DART this morning to head into the City Centre for something that ended up being canceled anyway, I was distracted by a neighbour and in our chatter I didn’t notice the lamppost right in my path. WHAM! I knocked myself to the ground and produced a lump the size of an orange on the side of my head. The neighbour brought me in to her house and gave me tea (the Irish cure for anything) and an ice pack. So, now that I’ve recovered from the bump on my head, I feel up to writing a bit about last night.

Greystones Theatre

Greystones Theatre is open a matter of weeks and last night was our first time setting foot inside, despite the fact that we live exactly 32 seconds from the front door. The venue is beautiful, the acoustics are perfect (the best of any venue I’ve been in and that really surprised me). It is a new venue and, as such, isn’t well known yet. So, sadly, Juliet Turner did not get the turnout she deserved. The half empty/half full theatre still managed to make her feel very welcome as our small group were strong on whoops and applause.

Greystones Theatre

Gentry Morris

Gentry MorrisLottie talks about the supporting act here so I won’t write much about him, except to say he was yet another excellent choice of support for Juliet. In the past we have been lucky enough to hear a number of great support acts, not least of which was Duke Special a good number of years ago. Last night Gentry Morris played and was brilliant. Slightly nervous and sporting a chest infection, none of it showed as he played a few beautiful songs and a couple of songs that I already find myself singing along to. Check out his MySpace page or his own website.

Juliet Turner

When Lottie first introduced me to the music of Juliet Turner eight years ago, I gave it a swift listen and dismissed it as the audio equivalent of chick-lit. It was not until I was dragged to one of her gigs that I truly learned to appreciate what an amazing artist she is.

Her music is hard to define. To describe it as folk is to do it a sincere disservice. To call it jazz or soft rock is pigeonholing it because it is so much more than this. Alternative Irish probably means nothing to most people. Juliet Turner is all of this and more. Her songs are imbued with personality and emotion that seem to tell the story of her life. From her early Pizza and Wine (see Lottie’s video below) to her more recent offering Invisible to the Eye, she reveals so much of herself. Not that she is a particularly guarded or circumspect person. In between each track she is happy to chat and joke with the audience, telling us stories of her tours, her experiences and her inspiration for the songs she writes. And her voice is a thing of beauty. Her Northern Irish twang permeates through her songs and it is a joy to listen to her chat away. If she didn’t sing a note, she could still keep the crowd captivated for hours.

Pizza and Wine is one of my favourite Juliet tracks and it hails from her first album, Let’s Hear it For Pizza. Juliet TurnerThough the song is a number of years old now, she still sings it with the same joyful reflection that she did when I first heard it eight years ago. The first Juliet album I was heavily exposed to was Burn the Black Suit which has some wonderful tracks such as Belfast Central, Rough Lion’s Tongue and the ultimate Tom Waits cover, I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You (which I haven’t heard live since she dueted with Brian Kennedy at the Point Theatre and Kennedy fell over onstage – how we laughed 😆 ).

We seemed to be waiting decades for her follow up album, Season Of The Hurricane (2004), which did not disappoint. The brilliant track Everything Beautiful is Burning got a lot of radio play and the extremely sexy Vampire is one of my favourites. She also overjoyed fans by putting the crowd pleasing Sugartown on disc for the first time.

People Have Names

Her current tour is promoting her new album, People Have Names (iTunes link), and last night she mixed a number of new tracks in with her older established set. They fit in seamlessly and add a new vigour to the performance with tracks like Girl With a Smile and Tuesday Night Ladies wowing the crowd. She also played a wonderful rendition of Joy (also from the new album) which she claims is sung without cynicism – I don’t believe her for a second.

One of the excellent things about Greystones Theatre’s new website is their GTTV section where they have uploaded a number of performances from shows and gigs that have been on at the venue. The following is a recording of Joy from last night’s show:

The also whipped the crowd into a frenzy with the title track from her third album, Burn the Black Suit:

Juliet will be playing in Whelan’s on the 25th where I expect she will get a bigger crown than last night. We hope to be there and if you want tickets they are available from Ticketmaster. They are a mere €22.50 and it will be a great night.

Lottie, Darren and Juliet Tunrer

Also, if you know any Radio DJ’s (ahem!) please beg, pester and threaten them until they play Juliet’s new single Trickster, which can also be heard here.

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Jul 17 2008

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part Three)

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Be Prepared to Run the Gauntlet

GladiatorsAs the Sunday sun beat down upon our milk-bottle white frames and we lay by the tents praying that the inevitable redness that would colour our skin would metamorphose into something resembling a light healthy brown, we watched the campers a few tents down engage in something that resembled the Gauntlet from Gladiators. They had a big blow-up armchair and were standing in the main thoroughfare challenging anyone who dared to pass. A few people scoffed and walked around, but there was many a brave soul who took on the challenge. How no one broke a bone is beyond me, as everyone from a 20 stone rugby player (clarification: he looked like he may play rugby. This might be a stereotype but I really doubt he pirouettes down the local ballet hall in his spare time) to a frail but nippy teenager, smashed through and lept over the two-man one-armchair blockade.

Bring Some Wellies, Yes, But Also Bring Comfortable Shoes Too

I tried my best to find some wellies for the weekend but those shops that weren’t sold out had sizes that wouldn’t fit me. I am a size 11 but size 11 boots were too big and size 10 were too tight. I gave up and settled on an old pair of hard wearing runners. It ended up being the best thing I could have done. They had a strong grip, were reasonably water-tight and they weren’t too warm. So, while everyone else was cooking their feet, I was in complete comfort. See if you can spot my feet in a photo from Mr Rick‘s N95:

Bring Money, Not Bank Cards

I will direct you to this post as a perfect reason to bring enough cash with you.

Be Prepared for Rain, Mud, Cold Weather But Also…

Bring light clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses and light shoes. Sunday’s incredible weather took us completely by surprise. Waking at 6am on Sunday morning I was drenched in sweat, it was like someone had moved us out of our tent during the night and placed us in a kiln. Tired and uncomfortable, needing to use the toilet, I attempted to unzip my sleeping bag. I squirmed and became exasperated but finally located the zip. I tugged too hard. It got caught up in the fabric. I wriggled and pulled and ripped and kicked, but to no avail. I was stuck. It was no use. I closed my eyes and suffered through it.

Me at OxegenI must have passed out because I awoke again at 11 with a renewed yearning to escape my prison. I tried to open my eyes but they were glued shut, it seemed. I located the zip again and took some deep (warm) breaths while I tried to calmly undo the zip. It came loose. I was free. Now I just had to put on some clothes and get out of the tent.

A half an hour later I found freedom. The cool air, the fresh air was manna. I looked up and saw not a single cloud in the sky. Apparently we hadn’t been transported to kiln at all, but to the South of Spain. I was first sad that I would be missing the rest of the festival, but then resigned myself to the thought that Spain was the next best thing. I think the heat had gone to my head.

I returned from the toilet to deckchairs, crisps and a beer. Ah, heaven! We talked for hours about the possibility of going into the festival arena to catch some early acts, but it was just talk. Instead we sunbathed. I can’t remember the last time I just lay out in the sun for the sake of it. Luckily, both Lottie and T had brought sun cream (it wouldn’t have crossed my mind) and we didn’t get too sizzled. Still, Lottie is quite red, even today, and my rudolph-like nose has looked better.

Save Some Batteries for the Last Day

No, I’m not referring to Nickel Cadmium cells for your torch or walkman. Make sure you keep enough in your own system to make it through the final day. When we finally emerged from the sunbathing, we staggered to the arena. It was not a drunken stagger. We were just wrecked tired from the previous night’s dancing (less dancing, more aimless jumping) and our legs and feet were in pain.

Mick PyroIt did not stop us from getting right back into festival mode, however, thanks to Delorentos. Sunday was to be a day of Irish acts for Lottie and myself. Beginning with the incredible Delorentos, who seemed more overwhelmed by the gig than us, it was to be a brilliant day of quality music. As the bassist departed the Pet Sounds stage he looked across the crowd and gave us a wave of sincere appreciation. It’s great to see a band enjoy a gig just as much as the fans.

One of the most anticipated gigs of the weekend, for us at least, was the Republic of Loose gig up on the O2 Stage. Lottie and I, Lady Anon, RP, and others gathered a good distance back from the stage and were still close enough to experience the energy and charisma of the bigger-than-life Mick Pyro. They played a set with more power and intensity than anyone else at the festival. Pyro wanted to be remembered and went all out, pushing the crowd, demanding as much from them as they wanted from him. As an exercise in audience participation, it was a masterclass. Singing, screaming, swaying, clapping, jumping and hanging on every word of the powerhouse lead singer, the crowd loved every minute of it.

Bring Water

Darren and AndrewAnd don’t forget to drink the water you brought. Seriously, we brought bottles and bottles of water and yet I only drank occasionally from them. For this reason I was beginning to lag midway through Sunday evening. I was getting a headache and needed to buy more water. The headache was not helped by the quandry of the next gig choice. The Raconteurs were playing at the same time as Róisin Murphy. In the end we headed towards the Pet Sounds Stage for Murphy. We had seen so many live bands over the weekend, we thought a change (in the form of Murphy‘s pop-dance act) would be good.

Roisin MurphyShe was more than good – she put on a show where she had no less than 6 outfit changes, where she wildly flirted with her backing singers, where she toyed with the other band members, beating up the lead guitarist, and all of this before we even think about her powerful voice. We caught Róisin at the Choice Music Prize in Vicar Street earlier this year where she performed a couple of less energetic tracks. Utilising her voice instead of the theatrics and big band, it was clear that she had an amazing voice. But seeing her at Oxegen, it was brilliant to see the full package: great voice, great songs and an unbelievable performance – a show worth catching. Again, it was a shame that the gig was so short.

Choose Your Last Gig Wisely

It will be the one that leaves you with lasting memories. Finish on a high. We chose to go to the Swell Season in Pet Sounds. Who? It was Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s first performance as a group since the Oscars and they did not disappoint. It was probably the happiest gig of the entire weekend. Lottie managed to get some great footage on her camera here.

Bring Deodorant

Nah – don’t bother!

Bring Pills

No, not those – I refer to hayfever tablets, Imodium, diorylyte. Even if you don’t end up using them, someone else will be happy you are well stocked. I actually suffered really badly with hayfever on Sunday. It didn’t ruin the day or anything, but it definitely took something from it.

Be Prepared for the Impossible

You may be ready for everything – you may have enough food and drink, you may be prepared with a first aid kit, you may have a variety of clothes and footwear, you may have ear plugs, you may have a blow up mattress, you may be ready for rain, hail or snow, you may be ready for almost any eventuality……and then a tornado rips through the campsite and takes your tent a fe hundred feet in the air and miles away. This is what happened to two or three tents on Sunday afternoon. Two twisters zipped through the red campsite and left chaos, disruption and rubbish in their wake. So, what else could we do only applaud and cheer.


The Aftermath

After the dust has settled and I open my eyes to greet the real world anew, I truly feel as though I’ve been through a ‘rites of passage’, one I perhaps should have braved 10 years earlier. I trudged through mud, I basked in the rain, I ran between gigs and endured sanitary conditions that make the term ‘sanitary conditions’ a misnomer. I have no regrets, not one. I will return, I will definitely go to more festivals, but I somehow doubt anything will compare to the incredible experience I have had at Oxegen 2008.

Previous Posts:

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part Two)

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part One)

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Jul 16 2008

She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

Published by under Blog,Music

Following on from my review of the She & Him album, Sentimental Heart, here is the band’s new video:

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Jul 16 2008

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part 2)

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Don’t Rely on Your Mobile Phone

Have pre-arranged meeting points because even though you may have full signal, you may still have difficulty getting through due to 80,000 other people attempting to do the same. I left the Winehouse to meet with my brother but we kept missing each other due to the inability to get a mobile connection. This also meant that text messages sent, were received up to an hour or more late. This did afford me the opportunity to hear Panic at the Disco, the pop punk group from Las Vegas. I knew a couple of their songs (Nine in the Afternoon is brilliant) but was delighted to hear more. They were a great energetic act which acted as a contrast to Miss Amy‘s lacklustre performance at the opposite end of the arena, down on the Mainstage.

Don’t Hang Around With a Bunch of 16 Year Olds

One: you will feel very very old. Two: People will stare at you oddly because you are hanging around with a bunch of 16 year olds.

I did finally catch up with my sibling and his mates and ingratiated myself into their favours with packs of Mini Smarties. My hopeful attempt to seem cool and hip in front of them was grounded at the first hurdle. I looked like this:

Once I clambered over that obstacle things went further down hill when I insulted one (and probably more than one) of them accidentally. But, they were a forgiving bunch and allowed me to tag along with them to watch REM. Further showing my age, I was able to sing along with most of the earlier REM tracks while struggling with tracks from the recent Accelerate album (their best in many years).

Get Up Front As Early As Possible

After REM on the Mainstage, we bounded through the admittedly light layer of mud to see Manic Street Preachers in the Green Room. We arrived with time to spare so we could get some decent positioning for the gig. We were pretty much right up front and if you want to be anywhere near the front at a gig as popular as this, you need to get their early.

Alternatively send a bunch of people ahead of you. The Teens and I held onto a good spot while Lottie, Andy and T, RP, Lady Anon and others made their way through the masses to join us. The great show put on by the Manics was only improved by our brood of bouncing buddies. The Manics did not disappoint and gave us hit after hit – we loved it and the band seemed to really enjoy their set too, which can only enhance the performance. Dancing, singing, waving and jumping we were all on a high when they finished the set, but were immediately thrust into depression. It was too short. There was no encore. We screamed for more, but it did not come. It’s a shame, but such are the ways of the festival. The Manics were probably my top band of the entire weekend both for the music they played and the feeling of longing for more they left us with. The gig encapsulated all that Oxegen was for me. It was fun; I was surrounded by great friends and strangers who I clicked with; the music was unrivaled; the show was electric; I was left wanting, needing, crying out for more. Awesome!

Plan Your Weekend


No Matter How You Plan It, You Will Inevitably Miss Some Gigs

It’s going to happen. It’s the nature of festivals. Some gigs will clash with others. Some gigs will be on early and you may still be sleeping. Some gigs you may not even hear about until after the event. This is why it is vitally important to plan out your gig-guide before you go. Thanks to the ever-efficient Cormac Moylan I had a readymade Excel sheet which I could adapt for my own nefarious plans (mwahaha). Okay, so nefarious they may not be, but plans they are. For the most part I got to see what I wanted and my guide actually managed to stay in one piece for the whole weekend despite being rained on, handled by many and moving from muddied pocket to muddied pocket repeatedly.

But true to form, the well laid plans of mice did not allow for a number of gigs. I would love to have caught the Aphex Twin (especially having heard some of the reviews in the past two days). Paddy Casey would have been fun and I wanted to hear Counting Crows (although Andy and T were hugely disappointed by their mish-mash of a concert). The Hoosiers, Vampire Weekend, Declan O’Rourke and Alabama 3 were on my secondary list, but alas went unheard by me. The choice between The Raconteurs and Róisin Murphy on Sunday was very tough. We ultimately went with Róisin to add a greater variety to the weekend and I’m glad we did, because she was remarkable. I stepped into MGMT in Pet Sounds before the gig had started and was all set to watch them. I rushed out to summon Lottie, but by the time I returned, mere minutes later, the entire tent was surrounded by hoards of people and there was no hope of getting in. By all accounts it was a fantastic session – well, once it restarted after the idiots climbed down from the rafters.


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