Last Wednesday, the six members of Midlake from Texas took to the stage of Dolan’s Warehouse and delivered an impressive 90-minute set. I wasn’t that familiar with their music beforehand, but I thoroughly enjoyed the band’s musicianship, vocal harmonies and their songs. They formed in 1999 and released albums in 2004, 2006 and 2010. Antiphon is the title of their fourth album and it will be released later this year
And so Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band‘s Wrecking Ball Tour made its way around Europe and finished up with two nights in Kilkenny. I’d only planned to go to the two Munster gigs when the Irish dates had been announced last winter, but that plan went out the window following the first show in Limerick. I went online the next day and easily secured a pitch ticket for the second and final concert at Nowlan Park on July 28th. These two dates were going to be a bit of a celebration as half a dozen other acts would join Bruce and the band over the two days in what was being billed as the Wrecking Ball Weekender. My sister and her husband had already bought tickets for the Saturday and they both had yet another unforgettable night on what was their third gig of tour. Josh Ritter, Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard had warmed up the crowd that night and Glen also returned to share the stage with Bruce during an impressive duet on Drive All Night. They also got the whole of the Born in the USA album and some nice weather, so it sounded like Sunday would be a tough act to follow
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band’s triumphant return to Ireland for their debut Limerick gig last Tuesday was followed two days later by the band’s first ever gig in Cork city. As I made my way down on the bus from Limerick, I thought about the last gig played at what was going to be Thursday night’s venue. Páirc Úi Chaoimh is the home of the GAA in Cork and also the home of the Cork hurling team that had been defeated by Limerick the previous Sunday. I had been there a lot throughout the ’90s, following the fortunes of a pretty decent Limerick hurling team and had actually been in attendence in July when Limerick won the 1996 Munster championship by beating Tipperary in a replay. I never thought it would be another 17 years before Limerick would win their next Munster title and, when I saw Oasis play there a month later, I never imagined that it would just as long before another concert would take place at Pairc Úi Chaoimh
It’s four in the evening and sunny. That’s not unusual for a mid-July day in the Northern Hemisphere. But I’m writing this on the outskirts of Limerick city and anyone familiar with Ireland’s third largest city will be only too aware that it’s not noted for its sunshine. Recently, however, the Limerick of Frank McCourt’s raintrodden Angela’s Ashes, like the rest of Ireland, has been experiencing its hottest summer in seven years and there’s no sign of it abating. The unusual weather has brought warm days and nights, sunshine and no rain. As a result, people are constantly in a good mood, more optimistic and far happier. This unexpected heat wave has had to compete with two other unusual events this week. On Sunday, the Limerick hurling team won its first Munster championship in 17 years, when they defeated provincial rivals Cork in front of 30,000 sports fans at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds in Ireland’s national sport. Two days later, at the home of the Munster rugby team, Thomond Park, over 30,000 music fans came to watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band make it a memorable few days for the city by the River Shannon. Many people got to experience the weather, the hurling and the music. Due to work commitments, I could only watch Sunday’s final on television, but I was there on Tuesday to see the concert of a lifetime by my favourite performer.
Last Wednesday night, I went to bed earlier than usual as I had a big day ahead of me on Thursday. I had to be up before 9.00am the next morning to try to buy tickets for the Cork leg of Bruce Springsteen’s visit to Ireland next year. Across the city, my friend John was going to try to get tickets for Limerick and later that day the two of us were travelling to Cork to see Wessex boy Frank Turner play Cyprus Avenue on the opening night of a short trip around Ireland. We’d already seen Frank play a storming set at Wembley Arena in March this year and we caught The Boss in top form in Dublin in July. Unfortunately I awoke at four in the morning with a terrible pain in my stomach and made a few journeys to the bathroom to talk to God on the great white telephone before somehow managing to secure tickets for Springsteen in Cork. John got the tickets for Limerick as well and then I told him about my eventful night. We agreed that I’d go back to bed and would only make the journey south if I made a recovery. I didn’t
I’m not usually a fan of tribute bands, but I saw one last weekend that proved to be the exception to the rule. It took place at Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick, though it would be more correct to call it a tribute to one of the greatest musical events in rock & roll. The show being celebrated was the 1976 farewell performance by The Band that took place at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco during Thanksgiving Day. This spectacular concert not only featured The Band along with an impressive horn section, but also some of the biggest names in music at the time. Thankfully, the show was filmed by Martin Scorsese and given a cinema release two years later as The Last Waltz. I first bought a copy on video cassette over twenty years ago and upgraded to DVD a few years ago. I’ve watched it dozens of times over the years and it always cheers me up no end when I put it on. It was no different at Dolan’s last Saturday night
A few weeks ago, my friend John and I caught the first in what promises to be a busy few months of checking out some of our favourite songwriters at various venues around the British Isles. First up was Randy Newman who played two gigs at Dublin’s Vicar St. at the start of March. We had hoped to catch him there a couple of years ago, but he caught a sore throat and had to cancel. On the opening night this time, he began with Mama Told Me Not To Come and it was obvious that he was under the weather again and should probably have heeded the song’s advice. Fortunately, his head cold only affected him on a few songs and the rest of the show made me forget my own dose of the man ‘flu for a couple of hours