The Old & The Young

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

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Man at the Top

Long Time Comin'

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

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Rebel Rouser

2013-07-18 13.42.16

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

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Frankly, Mr. Turner

Frank Turner Galway 2012

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

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Mixing Pop & Politics

“It’s surprising how quick a little rain can clear the streets,” sang Billy Bragg on a wonderful rendition of The Saturday Boy at Dolan’s last night. The Limerick streets are used to rain, of course, and if they were empty on a Monday night it was because everyone was at the Warehouse to welcome the Bard of Barking to town for the first time. It’s hard enough to get people to come out any night to see a solo singer backing himself on guitar, but it was a testament to his standing that he attracted a full crowd on a cold and wet Monday night in October. I got to Dolan’s early and filled my stomach with some tasty Guinness stew and later washed it down with pints of porter in the Warehouse as I joined some friends to check out the opening act. Paddy Nash hails from Derry and he did a fine job warming up the crowd. He was quite comfortable with the audience and explained that he had walked out on his job in the film industry when they wouldn’t give him the week off to follow Billy around the country. A song called Billy Bragg Jeans was inspired by a story Paddy heard about Billy buying a pair of jeans for a few quid in a charity store. He also gave us a song called Rubber Bullets that was sung from the perspective of a child growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. His best song, and the one the audience enjoyed the most, was called Ballad of a Nobody. This was a witty song that told the story of an average man with an average life and had everybody in stitches as its key line was repeated each time

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Three Is The Magic Number

It had been a while since my friend John and I had been to a gig in Limerick, but we made that right last Wednesday night. John’s a big fan of British and Irish folk music and I quite like singer-songwriters. Both categories were catered for at the Belltable on October 5th as three talented musicians from the British Isles came to town. James Yorkston, Adrian Crowley and Alasdair Roberts were the trio and Limerick was their first stop on a four-night tour that would take in Cork, Dublin and Kildare on the subsequent nights. It was my first visit to the Belltable since its refurbishment earlier this year and I must say I was impressed with what they’ve done to the foyer and the theatre area. Fife native James Yorkston was first up and he tried out a load of new songs on us. I’ve been a fan of his music ever since I heard his song Woozy with Cider and it was a pleasure to finally hear his wonderful voice in person. I’m afraid I can’t recall any of the titles of the new songs, but his quiet delivery and plucked guitar on one was reminiscent of Thom Yorke. He’s no Jimi Hendrix on guitar and spent some time tuning it between tunes, but also engaged in a bit of banter with the audience while fiddling with his strings. Yorkston was joined by Alasdair Roberts at the end of his set as the two paid tribute to a folk legend. Bert Jansch had passed away that morning and Yorkston revealed that his very first paid gig was supporting the Glasgow-born musician. He last met him when he supported him in Paris a few years ago. He admitted that he didn’t know him that well, but you could tell that Jansch’s music meant a lot to him. He and Roberts delivered an emotional version of a traditional ballad about a sailor who takes advantage of a servant girl that brought the first half of the show to an end

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The North Sea Scrolls

Luke Haines recently announced that he’s about to release the follow-up to 2009’s 21st Century Man. The new album has the rather improbable title of 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early ’80s. And, apparently, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I’ve been following Haines’ career ever since the release of New Wave by The Auteurs in 1993. The band were always on the margins of Britpop and Haines later changed musical direction to form the electonic group Black Box Recorder. Haines has also collaborated with other musicians and has released a few solo records. He’s even written a couple of memoirs, beginning in 2009 with Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall. Haines was quite uncomplimentary about his fellow Britpoppers, with Blur and Radiohead amongst his victims. I’ve seen him once in concert, when he performed recently at Cabaret Voltaire during the Edinburgh Festival. The show was advertised as the North Sea Scrolls and all I knew beforehand was that he’d be joined on stage by a number of companions. When I got to the gig, I was delighted to discover that Cathal Coughlan was one of those guests and that they would also be joined by the writer Andrew Mueller and the cellist Audrey Riley

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