Pursued by a Bear »

  • If you only do one thing this weekend, have at least five daily portions of Forbidden Fruit

    May 31, 2012 @ 7:20 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Festival: There’s only one party in Dublin this weekend, and it’s spreading out into the city. Forbidden Fruit is taking over the Royal Hospital Kilmainham for its second year, with more stages, more acts and a punchier line-up than last year. Is there anyone left that doesn’t know Wilco, New Order, Leftfield and the like are coming to town?

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    Further down the roster are some cracking local and international acts. Swedish outfit The Field might be in with a shout for set of the day away from the main offerings on Saturday. Sunday looks like the best day with Austra, Grimes and The Rapture setting out their stalls before headliners New Order boss the fields. Also, keep an eye out for Daithi who was apparently doing extraordinary things at last week’s Drop Everything festival, at least if this is to be believed. (more…)

  • Steve McCurry documentary in the frame

    @ 4:14 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    News reaches us via the excellent Phaidon website (and hat tip to @cdugdog for pointing it out), of a new Steve McCurry documentary that is in the works.

    The Magnum photographer, who is something of an auteur for the artform, is having a documentary made about his life and work by Michele Bonechi and Simon Taylor. (more…)

  • Spring time for The Bad Plus

    May 25, 2012 @ 11:18 am | by Laurence Mackin

    US jazz trio The Bad Plus have a reputation for tackling challenging music, but will Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ be a step too far, and why do they want to pepper-spray a particular US rock band?

    THERE IS A story about composer Igor Stravinsky and saxophonist Charlie Parker that has become part of jazz lore (Alex Ross mentions it in his superb book The Rest is Noise).

    Parker had heard Stravinsky’s astonishing The Rite of Spring and, in 1951, while playing a concert in New York’s Birdland, he spotted Stravinsky in the crowd. He immediately worked some motifs from the composer’s Firebird into the tune he was playing, Koko. Stravinsky was so delighted that, in the words of Ross, he “spilled his scotch in ecstasy”. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . put a Rite of Spring in your step

    May 24, 2012 @ 6:25 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Music: US jazz piano trio The Bad Plus have a reputation for tackling challenging chunks of music, but their latest project would surely have any musician thinking twice. In something of a coup for Note Productions, the band will be touring their version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, one of the most influential pieces of 20th century music, up and down the country, starting with Belfast tomorrow, then to Dublin on Saturday followed by Sligo on Sunday, before heading to Kildare, Limerick and Cork.

    The band have previous in this regard: check out their versions of Aphex Twin’s Flim, Tears for Fears’ Everybody Want to Rule the World or Blondie’s Heart of Glass, which are by turns clever and sublime. Stravinsky, though, is an entirely different, much more complex animal.

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  • Why getting stuck into a good book can be odd for your health

    May 22, 2012 @ 4:27 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Researchers at Ohio State University have uncovered a vital bit of truth that was already known to anyone who has ever enjoyed a good book.

    A recently published study claims that people who read a fictional story often find themselves feeling the same emotions and motives of the characters in the book. This can even lead readers to alter their behaviour, and act like or in empathy with the characters. In a deft semantic move of encoding the bleeding obvious, the researchers have called this, ahem, phenomenon “experience taking”. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . give a Jean-Claude Van Damme

    May 17, 2012 @ 6:58 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Dance: The capital city is still in the grip of the Dublin Dance Festival, and the festival is taking a logical cue from Martha and her Vandellas by taking it out of the theatres and on to the streets. As well as the festival’s regular programme, which includes pieces by the groundbreaking Trisha Brown Dance Company, Luca Silvestrini’s dance company Protein has been performing on Grafton Street all week. Tomorrow (Friday) they will be entertaining unwary pedestrians at 1.30pm and again at 5pm (for about 40 minutes each). Feel free to join in, like one of those films where the lead starts dancing and everyone else knows the moves. You can also learn a few steps if you fancy being a part of the finale performance on Sunday at 4pm, which will feature a troupe of musicians and local dancers performing a full street show. Well it makes a change from being hassled by chuggers and trainee hairdressers, doesn’t it?

    Music: Ah, Franz Ferdinand – the band that launched a thousand art-rock ships and played no small part in introducing a trend that musicians had to sport more than one haircut at any one time. The difference here is that Alex Kapranos and co have real substance to their music, and it’s easy to forget how definitive their sound was for several years after the release of their debut album in 2004. The band are currently on a tour of smaller venues in Ireland, which is a very appetising prospect. They have a habit of taking the tightly controlled aggression of their records and letting it run loose live, and are not afraid to tear through their older chart favourites with muscle and swagger. Go on, take yourself out to Cork, Galway or Limerick this weekend.

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  • If you only do one thing this weekend: enjoy some impressive exhibitionism

    May 10, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Dance: Last week I was arguing that modern dance has, perhaps out of all the artforms, the toughest sell to a general audience. It’s interesting then that the Dublin Dance Festival has something of a technological or scientific feel to it this year (Michael Seaver takes a look at this aspect in this article). The line-up has plenty to offer first-time dance-goers and enough heft to keep the hardcore dance fans happy – the Liz Roche Company and the Royal Ballet’s Sarah Dowling kick things off this weekend with a double-bill at the Beckett Theatre, while the formidable Trisha Brown Dance Company are making their Irish premiere in the Abbey. Blink and you’ll miss these performances – most are on for just two or three days, so catch this most elusive of artforms being performed by those at the peak of their powers while you can.

    Are ye dancing? Are ye asking?


  • Live review: SBTRKT, Academy, Dublin

    May 9, 2012 @ 10:37 am | by Laurence Mackin

    AARON JEROME AND collaborator Sampha have been building a devoted following since the release last summer of their eponymous debut album, and their reputation has been burnished by excellent sets on Other Voices and at a gig in the Workman’s Club last year. On stage, the pair perform wearing stylised tribal masks, adding a bolt of mystery and anonymity to their urban trip-hop sound.

    On record, the band are slick and subtle, spare acoustic elements and echoey effects pushed and pulled by smart beats and slick riffs that sound minimal and effortlessly cool. Live, Jerome plays an acoustic drum kit, along with a slew of triggers and samples, while Sampha’s warm, almost soulful vocal lifts off above his keyboards and looped lines. Given Jerome’s production work, and the band’s penchant for remixes, it’s no surprise that the live tracks differ from the album – the live kit might lose some of the restless, sparring subtlety of the record, but it adds a straight-ahead groove to many of the tracks, lifting the sound into something substantial enough to fill bigger rooms than this. (more…)

  • A pointless review of HHhH

    May 8, 2012 @ 6:27 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    HHhH By Laurent Binet Harvill Secker, 327pp. £16.99

    REVIEWS OF EXCELLENT BOOKS can feel pointless. They are packed with nuggets of information, prised from the cracks of the novel, that are best discovered while buried in their original pages. These shards are selfishly reproduced to serve the review: what more effective argument could be made than the utterly persuasive primary evidence of the book itself? In fact, you would be best advised to alight at the next full stop and get a copy of HHhH for yourself. You need read no further.

    In a way, this is the main problem facing Laurent Binet in his new book. HHhH is Reinhard Heydrich, the “butcher of Prague”, a man who physically and ideologically embodied the Nazi regime. His immediate superior was Heinrich Himmler, and rumours were whispered in the shadows of the Third Reich that “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich” – in German, “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or HHhH.

    Reinhard Heydrich, the hangman of Prague (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . visit the Paris of the northeast

    May 4, 2012 @ 1:58 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Where do you even start with a weekend like this one? The May Bank Holiday is like the first festive spring of the season, when towns, cities, villages and venues up and down the country let loose their first few programmes and set up a summer of arts and music action.

    The next few days are ridiculous. Those of you looking forward to a quiet, relaxed few days – forget it. All sleep is cancelled, all quiet time is null and void, all days-in are verboten. Here are just a few highlights of what is happening up and down the country. (more…)

  • Sound of the soul of African Peru

    @ 12:49 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    With her music and her politics, Susana Baca brought about a revival in Afro-Peruvian music and culture, with a little help from David Byrne

    SUSANA BACA has a reputation as something like a gentle force of nature. Speaking from New York, in-between flights, and with a translator and speaker phone between us, she still manages to communicate the warmth and commitment that have made her something of a national treasure in her home country of Peru, and won her many fans abroad.

    Baca is now in her late 60s. She almost single handedly brought about a revival in Afro-Peruvian music and culture, having championed the cause of the marginalised community of Peruvian descendants of African slaves, who arrived in the country in the 16th century. (more…)

  • Take a chance on … dance

    May 2, 2012 @ 6:34 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Is there any harder sell to a general audience than modern dance?

    More than any other art form, modern dance has its work cut out tempting in a random viewer who doesn’t know what to expect. You have more chance of getting a reluctant punter down the steps of a jazz venue, through a gallery’s doors, or into the stalls of a theatre than you have of making them sit still and soak up some modern dance.

    Which is odd, because a lot of it is accessible, and combines elements of dance with technology, lighting and music to make a much less intimidating package than, say, classical Greek theatre – and there is nothing in the arts world more turgid than bad Greek theatre. (more…)

  • Competition: Win tickets to Dublin Dance Festival

    May 1, 2012 @ 4:13 pm | by Laurence Mackin


    The Dublin Dance Festival takes place on May 11th to 26th, with a very impressive line-up. Among the highlights are Klaus Obermaier’s Apparition, which uses dancers and technology to form sensuous patterns of light and illusions; the Irish premiere of the Trisha Brown Dance Company; and Junk Ensemble’s The Falling Song, which looks at the nature of flying and its tempestuous relationship with falling (ouch).

    For more on the festival click here, and to celebrate we have two pairs of tickets to give away to a double bill of the festival’s opening performances. (more…)

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