Browsing articles in "Music"
Sep 5, 2013

Cats – The Greatest Musical Ever

It’s no secret that Herbstreet is my fave restaurant in Grand Canal Dock. So that’s exactly where I went for a pre-theatre supper last week. Me & Dad sat by the window, twas a mild night & the water was rippling gently. The last of that summer feeling… We got our munch on with lemon and lime marinated chicken, Irish oak smoked salmon and fish tacos, made with local plaice, and sweet potato wedges.

Fine food in our bellies, we were ready for Cats at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. A quick dash into Fresh for sweeties, a cup of tea in the foyer and we were soon seated close to the action. The last time I saw Cats was in London fifteen years ago. We used to go up the West End together whenever Dad visited, for London was my home, and it was him who introduced me to the joys of musical theatre.

Cats, of course, is legendary. One of the longest running shows in West End and Broadway history, Cats is a wonderful blend of music, song and dance. I still remember the magic! Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Trevor Nunn, with tour direction and choreography by Chrissie Cartwright. This time Susan McFadden plays the role of Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Let the Jellicle Ball begin…

Based on T.S Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, this is the story of the Jellicle Cats, a motley crew of street cats who attend the annual Jellicle Ball with the hope of being reborn to the Heaviside Layer. Top cat, Old Deuteronomy presides while the cats sing and dance their way through each character’s personal story. The cats are a sight to behold with their tiger stripes and painted faces.

Set in a junk yard, the stage remains the same and it’s the choreography that sets the scene. The cast were amazing to watch as they flipped, pranced and crawled through high tempo numbers, opening with “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”, then “The Rum Tum Tugger”, “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer”, “Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat” and “Magical Mr. Mistoffilees”. I had a huge grin on my chops!

Admiring the beautiful acrobatic cats, I wished I could sing and dance. I was sent to Irish dancing when I was five. Two left feet… The drama played out as the cats ran up and down the aisles, delighting the audience. More melancholy moments were the appearance of Grizabella the Glamour Cat and Gus the Theatre Cat, played by Paul F. Monaghan. In the background was menacing Mystery Cat Macavity.

The scene stealer was Susan McFadden, as Grizabella, with a jaw dropping version of “Memory”. McFadden made it her own, like original Elaine Paige had. A truly enjoyable show, Cats kept us on the edge of our seats from beginning to end. Enchanting and breathtaking it transported me to a child-like awe, like only Lloyd Webber can do. If you want to forget the world for a couple of hours, then go see!

www.catsthemusical.com / www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie / Herbstreet, Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 / www.herbstreet.ie

Sep 4, 2013

Decibelles – Molloy & Dowling

A Friday evening with friends, what could be nicer? The addition of pizza, that’s what. I met the gang after work (well, for them. My office is casual. Ahem) in Chaplins on Hawkins Street. What a lovely pub. Unassuming. Traditional in a non Paddy-whackery way. Purveyors of a fine ten euro pizza and pint deal too. I went for a scoop of O’Hara’s and a margarita. Down the hatch! The rest of them munched away.

It was a flying meet up before my next engagement, but good to see my chums for a bit o’ banter. I was off to Molloy & Dowling on Kildare Street for a party in an opticians. A what in a where, you ask? That’s right. Funky eye wear dispensers, Mssrs Molloy & Dowling host regular events in their Aladin’s cave of a shop. The two gentlemen share a wonderfully eclectic taste, with their own art on display throughout.

Decibelles, featuring live music from some super cool bands, was in aid of the Women’s Therapy Centre Ireland. A counselling and psychotherapy service for women, the centre enjoyed a successful fundraiser at Molloy & Dowling on the night. WTC Office and Fundraising Manager, Claire de Jong told me that she was delighted with the turnout and thanked the bands involved for volunteering their services for free.

My 15 euro ticket price got me some vino, a couple of Kit Kats and plenty of top sounds. First up was Revelry for Beginners, a one woman show and debut performance for the enigmatic Grainne. Interspersing her act with poetic vocals, self deprecating one liners and lots of la la la, Revelry for Beginners was original and surprising. I liked. Cave Ghosts were next with a melodic rock pop vibe.

Three edgy girls and a guy, they tried out new song ” All My Life”, a little slice of summery guitar choon. Little xs for Eyes filled up the stage with six players on myriad instruments. Theirs was a rich tapestry of jangly sounds all melded together with wistful vocals. Very nice. We swayed along, all smiles and rainbows. The final act of the night was the less winsome, more femme punk five piece September Girls.

I had spotted these chicks kicking back, earlier in the night, looking hot and being cool. They were no different on stage, turning out fuzzy garage rock with spiky charm. All eyeliner, back combing and plectrums these girls have a good thing going on. Their drummer was a powerhouse with sticks, with the front line strumming away in rhythm. Watch out for their debut album, coming out early next year.

With the music over, the fun kept on coming with Tina Maguire, Counselling Psychologist with WTC, opening the hat for their raffle. Prizes included books, DVDs, wine and vintage glasses. Yours truly didn’t win, but I was like a child with the excitement. Molloy & Dowling is such a brilliant venue. Quirky and intimate, I love what they’ve created. WTC were thrilled to announce they raised 936.59 euro.

www.womenstherapycentre.ie / Molloy & Dowling, 18b Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Aug 3, 2013

Porterhouse – Chowder and Brew

Me and the Bloke were looking for somewhere close to basecamp for a spot of lazy Sunday dinner. No cooking for us, no Siree! The Porterhouse Temple Bar on Parliament Street was ticking all the right boxes so off we went down the cobblestones. Perched at a quiet counter we whet our appetites with a pair of Porterhouse Plain. A deliciously rich and nutty stout, nay porter, with a hint of bitterness.

Live music filtered from upstairs filling the whole place with a feelgood factor. Locals and tourists alike happily tucked into good food. The Porterhouse has a reputation for hearty fare and the menu makes yummy reading. Sunday was the last day of their Belgian Beer & Mussels Festival so I ordered my dessert first. Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream, chocolate buttons and hot chocolate sauce. Get in!

I went for the seafood chowder, while the Bloke tucked into bangers ‘n’ mash. My chowder was a creamy, salty sea of smoked haddock, cod, mussels and prawns with brown soda bread for buttery dipping. His pork and leek sausages didn’t last long, always a good sign. Maybe it was the beer gravy! My Belgian waffles came with two spoons. Phew… We left the Porterhouse with a waddle in our step.

The Porterhouse Temple Bar, 16 – 18 Parliament Street, Dublin 2 / www.porterhousebrewco.com

Jul 31, 2013

Blur 21 – Teenage Kicks

I remember the very first time I clapped eyes on Damon Albarn. He was staring out from a poster, all big blue eyes, in the first issue of Select magazine. It was summer 1990 and Blur’s first single “She’s So High” had hit the airwaves. That poster ended up on my bedroom wall next to the Manics, Oasis and Pulp. The birth of Britpop had marked the start of my musical teenage years. I still have those records.

Blur 21, a photographic exhibition spanning the band’s history, is on show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham. I felt like I’d got into a time machine. There are some really great photos and album artwork. I was reminded of days spent poring through the NME and Melody Maker, my homework left lonely in the corner. A time when Thursday was Top of the Pops and Saturday night was the Tivoli.

The exhibition chronicles the band’s rise from fresh faced pop tarts to accomplished musicians. The pics, lots by Kevin Cummins and Paul Postle, are snapshots of a pre-bling time before celebrity culture. When London was cool. When Tony Blair was cool. The reason I left for the bright lights, straight outta school. Blur’s music still stands up today. Britpop, like grunge, was one of the last great musical eras.

Blur 21. IMMA, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 / www.imma.ie

May 23, 2013

Social-Life Dublin – Pleased to Meet You!

Dublin’s a little town with a lot of people. Getting out and about is easy, so why not meet more of your neighbours? Social-Life Dublin is the city’s newest meet-up. It’s a monthly gathering offering various talks and performances, followed by music and chat. Your Girl Friday, ever the social butterfly, found it fun and informative. Good times! The latest event was a top evening at Boteco Brazil on Ormond Quay.

Caipirinha in hand, I made my way to the cellar bar where plenty of folk were already chattering away. First up was Miller Anthony and his talk “How Enthusiasm Saved My Life!”. Certainly an upbeat topic, life coach Miller talked us through how to channel one’s thought process in a positive direction. Miller explained how enthusiasm in everyday life is the key to happiness. It’s all about mental attitude!

We paused for deliciously authentic Brazilian tapas. Melty mozzarella balls & hot veggie skewers… Nomsters! The stage was set for the inimitable Rose Lawless – cabaret artiste & enfant terrible. The eternally glamorous Rose was her usual mixture of mirth and mischief, regaling us with song and story. She graced us with her comedy numbers including “Up Da Pole” and “Man With a Moustache”.

Social-Life Dublin is run by local bon viveur Jerry O’Brien, whose aim is to showcase a host of interests under the one roof. The idea is to bring positive people together to discuss and take part in hobbies and personal development. The events include talks, entertainment, hobbies, activities, networking and clubbing. Not only is it a great way to meet new friends, but a good opportunity to make connections.

I’ve caught Conor Lynch from Social Media talking personal branding, world traveler Chris Riggs on African safari and Mo Levy on improv comedy, among others. Social-Life Dublin’s next meet-up is Friday June 14th at Boteco Brazil. The line-up includes comedian Marcus O’Laoire, memory master Kevin Redmond and Patricia Tiernan of LEAP Coaching on “How to Find a Job You Love”. See y’all there!

www.facebook.com/Sociallifedublin / Boteca Brazil, 6 Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin 7

Dec 11, 2012

An Afternoon With Rose Lawless

“It’s like a Recession party” mused the inimitable Rose Lawless. Our favourite cabaret girl was describing Dublin’s creative renaissance. It’s something she’s grasped with relish as her personality, though influenced by Paris and Prague, was born of this great city. Living as she is these days in Georgian Parnell Square, Rose is delighted to find such grand quarters teeming with fellow artists.

“Moore Street is the Montmartre of Dublin” Rose declared “The spirit, the characters, the comedy. It’s all there”. Since the untimely demise of the sorry Tiger, this town is thriving. Dublin has shifted into another gear. The right one, says Rose. “People like us are allowed to go to the party now. The hurt and anger is over and we’re developing a new relationship with ourselves” she paused “It really is la dolce vita”.

We met in the seaside haven of Monkstown and Rose brought me to the delightful Cafe Du Journal. “I love this place” she told me “It’s a real community hub”. A notorious good girl gone wrong, bohemian Rose is naturally attracted to such boltholes. She was found flaunting her gorgeous self at The Hot Spot in Greystones last week, causing her audience to both blush and marvel at her daring darling show.

Rose, of course, was delighted with the reaction. “If we can’t shock, then what can we do?” she asked, wide eyed. Sipping her Americano, Rose filled me in on her upcoming Christmas show in the New Theatre. “The Dazzling Cabaret Revolution!” she beamed “I am fabulously down at heel but still scandalising the masses… And now I’ve got a band and an album on the way too!” She winked boldly.

Rose Lawless, the shabby chic Paris Hilton of Dublin, has come a long way. Underground Rose ran away from boarding school aged sixteen. An anarchist she took a Hungarian lover and found the stage as a burlesque dancer with more than an edge. Her songs celebrate love, sex, sorrow and joy. Only Rose can add such glitter and gore to the kitchen sink drama that is life. A lady and a glamorous tramp!

Looking slinky in an Edith Piaf style black dress, from Lulu French Vintage in Monkstown, Rose glanced out the window and sighed. “Though I am a poor artist, I count that as a blessing” she explained “Toulouse-Lautrec, you know? Beauty comes from poverty”. Indeed, Rose is soon to film a video for her controversial rap song “Up Da Pole” in the city centre. “Like a fash mob, but in our best pyjamas!”

Rose and her comrades will be at the mysterious New Theatre, in the back of Connolly Books in Temple Bar from December 17th to 22nd. With Julie Cruickshank on keyboard, Claire Fitch on cello and Shane Atlas on drums it promises to be a spectacular Rose Lawless cabaret experience. Win a prize for your vintage style and enjoy a dinner deal at nearby La Dolce Vita. Let the fun begin, la vie en Rose!

www.roselawless.com / www.the newtheatre.com / The New Theatre, 43 East Esssex Street, Dublin 2

Sep 30, 2012

To Arthur! The Mezz Knows How To Party

Stepping into the jaws of Temple Bar, from Westmoreland to Fleet Street, I entered into a full swing party. Last Thursday was Arthur’s Day and the rarified Dublin air was infused with Guinness. The whole area was body to body, the pavement was wet, not with rain but the black stuff. Folk complain of the commercial side to Arthur’s Day but I must say those who were out to play got the best of our fair city.

All those revellers got me in the mood, so I made a beeline for The Mezz. Rock ‘n’ roll Baby! This live venue has been serving up fresh musical talent for almost 20 years, it’s deep dark cavernous atmosphere perfect for showcasing bands. The vibe is down and dirty with walls covered in images from rock history and a busy bar running the length of the room. The place was already locked and loaded.

I pulled up a stool by the stage, DJ Glenn Brown was spinning the discs – everything from Bowie to The Clash and The Jam to Oasis. Pint of velvet in hand, and there was plenty flowing from the Mezz’ taps, I was ready for some entertainment. First up was The Covers – yes, you guessed it, a tribute band spanning rock, pop and indie. A slick operation, The Covers belted out classics to get the crowd going.

The La’s “There She Goes”, “Coffee and TV” by Blur and The Smiths “Bigmouth Strikes Again” all went down a treat with the burgeoning audience. Lead singer Davey McGuinness then teamed up with sweet singer Caroline for a duet of the Zutons’ “Valerie”, famously revamped by Amy Winehouse. They kept the crowd a-swaying with a stomping version of “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher” by Jackie Wilson.

Morrissey and his NHS specs have a lot to answer for as these muso boys wound down to raucous applause. The Covers made way for Randy Rarely And The Scuds, a punky bunch who ramped up the richter scale. The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black” was sleek and sexy and it was lighters out for, all indie boys’ heroes, The Smiths “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”. Singer Andy Early was a dynamo!

These kids were what every young band should be – a gang of lads having a good time. Their raw energy filtered into every sweaty corner of the Mezz, guitars blaring at top volume. I was pogo-ing like my heyday, to The Jam’s “Town Called Malice” and “London Calling” by The Clash. It was hot and heavy as Randy Rarely And The Scuds ripped off their shirts to a baying mosh pit. More Genius. To Arthur!

The Mezz, 24 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Sep 25, 2012

Pugwash – Love At First Sound

Ever go to see one of those bands that you’ve never heard of only to find yourself totally familiar with their tunes? Well that’s what happened to your fave reporter at the Grand Social last Friday night. Pugwash was the band. They’ve been around since my school days. Been on my radio. Singer Thomas Walsh even said hello to me before he got on stage and only then I realised he was the main man.

Now I can’t get their songs out of my head. Lucky me! Pugwash are the sort of accomplished band that need no red carpet nor champagne kisses, having earned their musical stripes over the years. The Loft upstairs at the Grand Social is a great little venue. Cosy with good acoustics and a vaulted ceiling that feels almost like a festival marquee, bunting and all. Pugwash filled the place up with feelgood vibes.

There were some proper gems in the set like “Fall Down” from their new album “The Olympus Sound”, a nice slice of holiday pop that rolled in melodic waves. Walsh’s ability to distill faraway feelings into his music and lyrics brings whimsical thoughts and solid sounds together so perfectly. The magic of songs is what he’s all about. “Answers On A Postcard” was another sweeping guitar sway along foot tapper.

The great thing about Pugwash is that all the band are involved with lots of layering going on between the boys. Their unique rollercoaster of Rickenbacker guitars and punchy lyrics had the crowd surfing the same high as the band. Between his singing and the banter Walsh brought the whole thing together into a Dublin love in with laughs and some serious jams. Pugwash make for a most mellow moshpit.

Support band on the night were The Urges, who I didn’t see as me and the Bloke had left just enough time for a Guinness to settle. Fashionably late! But my sources tell me that they come from the same school of music as Pugwash, channeling the original garage sound through psyhedelic rock ‘n’ roll. Pugwash bring echoes of The Beatles and ELO – Walsh spoke of his delight of a letter from Jeff Lynne.

The fine numbers played on with “Be My Friend Awhile” and “Nice To Be Nice” – the kind of songs that stick to your heart. Onstage, Walsh exudes the same easy romance as his songs and it’s plain to see that he’s in his element with lots of guitar changes and a great camaraderie with band members Tosh Flood, Shaun McGee and Joey Fitzgerald. They’re a tight knit yet beautifully fluid bunch of musicians.

“Dear Belinda” was dedicated to a friend and “Apples” from the album “Almanac” was a winding yellow brick road of a song. But my absolute fave was the delicious debut single “Finer Things In Life” from their first album “Almond Tea”. I’ve heard it before in daydreams. “Age Of Revolution” was a stomping sing along, from their Duckworth Lewis Method collaboration with the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon.

Sharing the last of their Friday night with us Pugwash finished up with “Two Wrongs”. I could see why everyone in the place loves them as Walsh gives as much as he gets. With words like “seasons pass faster than fruitflies, decades disolving like Solpadeine” what’s not to like? We were now four and rocked on to Sweeney’s, then the Foggy Dew for a glass or three. Pugwash had certainly put us in the mood.

Illustration by Glenn Brown

www.pugwashtheband.com / The Grand Social, 35 Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1

Aug 2, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera – Angel of Music

Last Friday was sunshine and showers but I was in perky form despite a killer headache. The show must go on as they say! And what a show – The Phantom of the Opera at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. I found my mate dangling his legs over the side of the Grand Canal basin. Just kidding… But there was a gang of boys diving into the water and it looked like such fun! Next, KC Peaches for bites.

The deal is that you can pick any size plate – small, medium, large – and fill up with whatever you fancy. The food here is scrummy, especially for salad fans, and we went for beef curry, stuffed chicken and mixed greens. Even better are the cakes – don’t worry we kept room! Passion fruit cheesecake and peanut butter jelly brownies were washed down with creamy coffee. I was feeling better already…

The Bord Gais Energy Theatre, though slick and modern, has an intimate feeling. There’s a lovely party atmosphere – everyone’s here for a good time. But it’s the great staff that make the place. We were well looked after from the moment we arrived. I’ve seen Phantom once before, at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and I can still recall that spine tingling performance. The passion, the sorrow. The music.

The show opens on a magnificent set, the Paris Opera House, with the ensemble cast limbering up for a top performance. The scene is opulent and the costume fine, but lurking beneath in the shadows is the Phantom. Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all he soon comes to the surface, his love for his singing protege Christine Daae too strong to control. She is at once repulsed and fascinated.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hallmark musical is in Dublin for the first time after twenty five phenomenal years. The original players, Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford, are of course legendary but the actors in this show are very impressive indeed. Katie Hall gives her all as Christine, her glorious voice filling every corner of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, matched only by rival Carlotta for high notes.

However, it is the Angel of Music who really captures our imagination. The Phantom, played by John Owen Jones, is as mesmerising as he is menacing. Jones’ voice is tremendous and his portrayal of the tortured recluse is heart wrenching. I can’t help being swept away by the tragic romance of this show, as Christine is torn between her lover Raoul and her mentor Phantom, to whom she remains loyal.

With songs like “The Music of the Night”, “All I Ask of You” and “Phantom of the Opera” the production is as fine as you’d imagine, but live these numbers simply soar through the air. The infamous crashing of the grand chandelier is a great moment but the drama reaches a crescendo as Phantom loses the plot and kidnaps Christine. John Owen Jones’ captivating tones wring out as madness unleashes.

But Phantom’s heart is melted by Christine’s kindness to him and he eventually releases her to Raoul, surrendering to his own lonely fate. He gifted her a voice and realises that is all he can give. The lesson of The Phantom of the Opera is that one must not love for oneself but for the other person. Raoul’s genuine concern for Christine is selfless and holds the mirror up to Phantom’s emotional black hole.

It is human nature to covet what you cannot have and that is why we sympathise with Phantom. I know he moves me to tears! But it’s the highs and lows of Lloyd Webber’s powerful arrangements that pull on the heart strings. Beautiful music. We breathed a sigh of awe as the final curtain fell and the cast took a collective bow. Truly one of the greatest shows on earth. Love never dies. Now home to dream…

Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 / www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

Jul 24, 2012

Back to the Future – Disco Retro

Ah, that Friday feeling. I met Dad in town and we enjoyed a half an hour each in our fave shops – the best way for boys and girls to shop! Followed by a lazy lunch in the M&S Rooftop restaurant. The menu here is stuffed full of all that lovely Marks nosh that you can’t help putting in your basket – only it’s cooked for you! We had yummy fish cakes, chicken in Parma, chocolate brownie and lemon tart.

When I got back to the bat cave, it was a quick fire round of housework, followed by some scribbling and a flop on the sofa with a nice cup of tea. The girls were coming ’round for a screening of Back to the Future chez moi. The official show at the Sugar Club was sold out, but we planned to meet our pals who’d got their mitts on tickets, for the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Chardonnay time…

The movie night, run by Film Fatale, was a twist on their monthly classic screenings with both 50s and 80s themes combined. How clever! So while some of my girlfriends were dressed up all Madonna stylee in lace fingerless gloves and neon leg warmers, I went all demure in a dusky pink prom dress I’d picked up in Oxfam last week. Isn’t she lovely? The blokes went for a double denim and “life preserver” combo.

The Sugar Club had been transformed into an underwater paradise, just like the movie, with soap bubbles and balloons. The dance floor was jumping with kids jiving to Jaime Nanci and the Blue Boys, who were belting out rock ‘n’ roll gems. These cool cats had us tapping our toes to “Johnny B Goode” and “Jailhouse Rock”. Entertaining us after dark with a slick set was the Andrews Sisters Brothers.

We were whipped up into a frenzy on rum cocktails and high jinks with some top 80s tunes. These guys had their finger on the retro pulse with well chosen records – not too obvious, nor too obscure. It felt like 1986 again when I was gliding around the Top Hat roller disco, with my Mickey Mouse jumper and a Michael J Fox poster ripped out of Smash Hits proudly blue tacked to my bedroom wall. Good times!

Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Chaka Khan and, of course, MJ had us dancing ’til 3am. Film Fatale really know how to throw a party and event organiser Anna Taylor told me they were thrilled with the sellout night. It seems they’ve found a new niche with the 80s! I was fit for the scrapheap after a final flurry to New Order’s “Blue Monday” and headed home to bedfordshire, brow damp and feet burning. Like Friday night should be…

www.filmfataleevents.blogspot.com / The Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

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