The National Concert Hall is not a place you’d square with the debaucherous life and career of Shane MacGowan. But, The Pogues singer was never one to sty inside the lines and the national venue is taken over for one night for a 60th birthday show in his honour.
As Damien Dempsey says on stage during his first of many rousing performances that runs for nearly three hours with an interval, “They said that Shane wouldn’t see 30, then 40, then 50, nevermind 60,” he said. “Betcha many of those people are dead now,” he joked.
On the night, a bewilderingly large cast of his friends and admirers (and the President of Ireland Michael D) assembled to sing his own songs back to the man who imbued Irish folk and trad with a punk verve and energy.
If you thought this was going to be a stuffy recital in Earlsfort Terrace, this is Shane MacGowan’s night. A three-song Pogues rock set from Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, Clem Burke of Blondie, The Pogues’ Spider Stacy and Jesse Malin opened the show with a bast and made it clear that this was to be no seated event.
The audience barely had a moment to sit down such was the excitement as each new performer appeared on stage introduced by broadcaster John Kelly. A conveyer of serious talent joined a house band featuring members of the Pogues including Jem Finer, Terry Woods and Cáit O’Riordan playing alongside Sharon Shannon, Steve Wickham of the Waterboys and more as a rotating cast of singers like Damo Dempsey, Nick Cave, Imelda May, Glen Hansard, Bobby Gillespie, Carl Barat, Camille O’Sullivan, Finbar Furey, Cerys Matthews paid tribute while upcoming and younger musicians whenyoung’s Aoife Power, Lankum, Cormac Begley and Lisa O’Neill did Macgowan’s songs in a respectful and capable manner.
There were the unlisted guests, of course.
Bono sang ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’ (and Johnny Depp did his noodly guitar thing with him), Dubliners’ John Sheahan added great texture to the night.
The highlights were many. Sinead O’Connor surprised all with a devastating performance of ‘You’re the One’. Cait O’Riordan returned the favour by singing ‘Haunted By The Ghost’ which O’Connor previously sang with MacGowan, Lisa O’Neill duetted with Terry Woods on ‘Streets of Sorrow / Birmingham Six’ and later, channels Kirsty MacColl on ‘Fairytale Of New York’ on a duet with Glen Hansard. Damien Dempsey gets the closest to Macgowan’s folk instincts on his trio of performances including the rousing drinking song ‘Sally MacLennane’.
The accumulative effect of established musicians performing whiskey-soaked hymns and jams, the gig feels less like a birthday gig and more of a funeral for Ireland, such was the ability of MacGowan to bury himself into the Irish psyche by writing spirited barstool songs along with insightful lyrics informed by Celtic emigrant romanticism.
By the time Nick Cave sat down beside MacGowan, who made his appearance during the finale, and the pair sang ‘Summer In Siam’, and are joined by every member of the cast and the President, there are tears around the room. A spontaneous Happy Birthday leads the frail MacGowan to respond in kind with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’.
The National Concert Hall has never seen the likes of it. And likely neither shall we.
The RTÉ Choice Music Prize have announced the 10 albums shortlisted for Irish album of the year today as revealed on Tracy Clifford’s 2FM show by Choice chairman Tony Clayton-Lea.
The winning album will be revealed at Vicar Street on March 8th after a judging panel deliberation.
The 10 albums shortlisted by the judges for Irish album of the year are:
Come On Live Long – In The Still (self released) Marlene Enright – Placemats and Second Cuts (self released) Fangclub – Fangclub (Universal) Lankum – Beneath the Earth and the Sky (Rough Trade) James Vincent McMorrow – True Care (Faction Records) New Jackson – From Night to Night (All City) Otherkin – OK (Rubyworks) Fionn Regan – The Meetings of the Waters (Abbey Records) Ships – Precession (Ships Music) Talos – Wild Alee (Feel Good Lost)
A very strong list this year. Great to see Ships, Talos, Come On Live Long, Marlene Enright and New Jackson in there – many of which were featured in my Irish albums of the year. We live in a deluge of new music so for those albums to get even to judge’s ears now is no mean feat, not least make an impression. Independently-released albums have to swim upstream and rely on sites like this, word-of-mouth and hard graft to make a lasting impression beyond the week of release in the first place.
Missing from the list? Northern Irish acts didn’t get a look in once again. The NI Album of the Year from Joshua Burnside doesn’t feature, nor does the brilliant debut album from Bicep or And So I Watch You From Afar most notably. It seems the NI / ROI divide remains even if it has certainly improved in recent years.
2017 wasn’t a year that many Irish major label acts released an album save for U2, Van Morrison, Niall Horan, The Coronas and The Script. The Script was pretty much panned across the board and U2’s Songs Of Experience received mixed reviews. It’s December release date may not have helped.
One notable act whose huge success didn’t translate to a Choice Music Prize nomination? Picture This. They may be able to sell out big venues all over the country but this award is for album alone and the critics didn’t pluck for the Kildare boys.
No room for trad acts like Cormac Begley or Martin Hayes and Damien Dempsey fell short of the judges.
About the Choice Music Prize
The winning act will receive €10,000, a prize fund which has been provided by The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) and The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA). All of the shortlisted acts will receive a specially commissioned award. RAAP, Culture Ireland & Golden Discs are also official project partners.
RTÉ Choice Music Prize – Irish Song of The Year 2017
The shortlist for the RTÉ Choice Music Prize – Irish Song of The Year 2017 will be announced on Wednesday 31st January 2018. A special event featuring exclusive performances from both Album of the Year and Song of the Year nominees will be held in Dublin’s Tramline venue that evening.
Choice Live Event – tickets
Tickets for the Choice Music Prize live event on March 8th in Vicar Street are available from Ticketmaster and priced €28 plus fees.
RTÉ 2FM Radio support
RTÉ 2FM will celebrate the announcement of the shortlist across its schedule throughout the day with All Irish Music All Day from 6am to midnight. Louise McSharry will present a two-hour special programme on this year’s RTÉ Choice Music Prize, Irish Album of the Year 2017 shortlist from 8-10pm this evening. RTÉ 2FM will continue to mark the announcement of the shortlist this week and beyond through a mix of airplay of tracks from the shortlisted albums, interviews with this year’s shortlisted artists and live performances.
Live event broadcast on RTE radio and TV
As part of the partnership with RTÉ, the event will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2FM in a special four-hour extended programme from 7-11pm and on RTÉ2 as part of a special RTÉ Choice Music Prize TV programme, approximately one week later.
Kate Brennan Harding – Today FM Martin Byrne – Music Consultant Stephen Byrne – Golden Plec Tracy Clifford – 2fm Alan Donovan – Red FM Dave Hanratty – Freelance journalist & broadcaster with NO ENCORE podcast Hugh Linehan – Irish Times Culture/Arts/Ticket Editor Ann Marie Shields – BIMM Lilian Smith – RTE Radio 1 Danny Wilson – Totally Dublin
21 year-old songwriter signed to Matador Records who was my new artist of the week for the Irish Times last week, hits some big highs on her second album, and the first that people are already paying attention to and she’s nailed it with big songs that burn with atmosphere and a voice that commands the release. The gig on November 9th is sold out.
The band formerly known as Lynched release their first album (second in total) on Rough Trade Records. The phrase they coined about themselves still feels like the truest to apply to the band – folk miscreants. There are traditional tunes here but original ones too like the 8-minute ‘Deanta in Eireann’ that could be about nearly any time in Irish history but are applicable to the now – migration, a government who doesn’t care about the little people and using your Irish charm abroad but it turns the song’s gaze back on the homeland – if the Dáil are the pimps, then we are the whores” and in the end, you’ll want to stand up and declare the song our new antagonistic national anthem.
The Gloaming fiddle players’ latest project saw him convene in an 18th century house in Bantry with frequent collaborator Dennis Cahill (guitars) and New Yorkers Doug Wieselman (bass clarinet, Anthony & The Johnsons and Laurie Anderson) and Liz Knowles (hardanger d’amore), with a fire going at both sides of The Blue Room (the album is called after it) and the quartet’s recording process involved playing each traditional piece repeatedly and allowing something different to emerge in the process. The quartet are playing the album at NCH this Saturday night.
For her first Fever Rat album in 8 years, Karin Dreijer returns to the sound that made the now defunct band The Knife that she formed with her brother a going concern – that means it’s more dynamic electro pop with an edge than a haunted atmospheric album like LP1. More on the background of the album, the release of which was only announced yesterday.
The Galway/Dublin singer-songwriter has been following a path of elegaic music making in recent years and his eighth album eschews his trusty guitar completely, thanks to encouragement from producer Thomas Bartlett (The Gloaming again). That makes for music that has new tones and colour to it. The only constant is Crowley’s barrelling baritone.
Donal Dineen and Myles O’Reilly’s This Ain’t No Disco online music show has returned for a third episode and the 50 minute show features Brigid Mae Power, Rusangano Family, Lankum, Peter Broderick, Lisa O’Neill & RSAG. Peat and Lisa O’Neill duet on Irish traditional singer Margaret Barry’s song Factory Girl.
Next weekend sees the kickoff of Clonmel Junction, a multidisciplinary arts festival that draws music, comedy, dance, visual art and installation from all over the country to Clonmel and the wider South Tipperary area. A whole host of attractions are lined out for the festival, running from July 3rd to July 10th, and picking a handful of sights to see is tough, but here’s our personal selection of some must-see gigs happening throughout.
Thursday July 6th, 6pm @ Baker’s Bar, free
Everyone loves Caoilian Sherlock. Absolutely everybody. No exceptions. The handsomest boy in Cork music has worn many a hat in his time among the city’s musical rabble: as a DJ, one of the curators of Quarter Block Party, one of Southern Hospitality Board, and as one of the lads from Leeside psych-pop combo The Shaker Hymn. Criss-crossing the roads of Ireland on his lonesome for new project Saint Caoilian, Sherlock taps into his inner troubadour to sweet, injured, almost heartbroken effect.
Friday July 7th, 8pm @ Mulcahy’s, €20
The artists formerly known as Lynched have been on the ascendant in recent years, combining respect for a vast array of musical traditions with a distinctly relevant socially-conscious edge. They combine distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar. Having appeared on Later with Jools Holland following the release of their first album Cold Old Fire, the band were also nominated for three gongs at the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and have signed with Rough Trade for their second long-player.
Friday July 7th, 8pm @ Mitchelstown Cave, €30, with Peter Broderick
Meanwhile, over at Mitchelstown Cave on the same evening, one of the vanguard of the new wave of Irish artists takes to stage. Sallay Matu Garnett, aka Loah, is a now well-established presence in Irish music. The Sierra Leonean/Irish singer has been a lifelong musician, classically trained in piano, violin and voice. Her time at Trinity College yielded collaborations with future members of the likes of Little Green Cars, Slow Skies and I Have A Tribe, while subsequent ventures have seen her co-write music on Hozier’s platinum self-titled record, and finish her debut E.P., showcasing her folkish brand of self-named “art-soul”.
Saturday July 8th, 6pm @ Phil Carroll’s, free
The improvisational project of musician/artist Irene Buckley and producer/GASH Collective head Ellen King (aka ELLL), Wry Myrrh weave together off-the-cuff electronica with brooding, foreboding drones and textures. Debuting in January of 2016 at Cork’s Community Print Shop, the duo have since shared a stage with Sophie Cooper, MMOTHS, and the Tor Invocation Band.
Crash Ensemble & Sam Amidon
Saturday July 8th, 8pm @ Old St. Mary’s Church, €30
At the bleeding edge of contemporary Irish music for twenty years this year, Crash Ensemble have been pursuing a number of special events and collaborations. For this event Crash Ensemble will be joined by American folk artist Sam Amidon, who reworks traditional folk melodies into new, indie-friendly forms.
Tickets for all events above are available now at junctionfestival.com, along with info on the full programme.