Pursued by a Bear »

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … get your Stradbally on

    August 30, 2012 @ 2:42 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Festival? What festival? Stuck for something to do this weekend? Feel like something is on but it might have slipped under your radar? Not quite sure, but think you are supposed to be doing something but can’t remember what? Of course not, because like anyone in the country with any sense, you’re heading to Stradbally for the greatest show in Laois. Click here for a quick rundown of some slightly off-the-beat acts worth checking out. Click here for Jim Carroll’s On the Record EP jukebox. Click here if you are one of those people who has to dress up in an outfit at a music festival. You know who you are.

    Is the protest song dead? Not if Arlo Guthrie has anything to do with it. Rumour has it that if you cut Arlo Guthrie, he bleeds agitation – and little wonder given that his father, Woody Guthrie, is one of the greatest protest songwriters of all time, and the original person to gig with the message “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar. Arlo’s coming back to these shores to stir up a little social justice with a tour that takes him from Tipperary tomorrow, to Wexford on Saturday and Galway on Sunday before heading to Cork next week.

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  • 10 off-the-beaten-track acts at Electric Picnic

    August 27, 2012 @ 6:03 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Away from the headline acts at this weekend’s Electric Picnic, there’s an excellent roster of acts that may not have made it on to most people’s musical radars just yet. So here’s a quick look at 10 off-the-beaten-track acts well worth giving the time of day and night to. Once they don’t clash with The Roots, that is.

    Wallis Bird
    Fresh from a storming set at last night’s birthday party for her Rubyworks label in the Olympia theatre, Wallis Bird will be looking to light up the Picnic with a trademark livewire performance. Her astonishing vocal range and terrific projection should make her set a fine festival moment.

    Yes she is the girl from the Gotye song – but she also has a debut album out now, Vows, which showcases her prodigious talents. It might try to do too many tricks at once, and perhaps, in terms of musical styles, Kimbra is stretching herself a little too tightly, but the record is whip smart, funky pop – if she has a cracking band to match her own ambition, this could be a stormer.

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    John Talabot
    John Talabot’s DJ set at this year’s Body and Soul festival came heavily hyped, and he delivered a cracking, relentless late-night feast for house music fans. If he shows up and delivers a similar performance, this will be one very happy tent indeed.


  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . head into the mystic

    August 23, 2012 @ 8:12 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Van and friends: I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who has persevered with Van Morrison gigs with a tenacity that is admirable, bordering on the misguided. He had seen him six times, and each gig was worse than the last. Then, one night in Warsaw, at a private show Van was giving for mobile-phone company clients, my friend gritted his teeth and prepared to seal a seventh disappointment. Morrison decided not to follow the script and instead called on all his musical prowess to deliver a show of exceptional quality and soul.

    Happily, Morrison seems to have stuck to this modus operandi. This year’s shows in the 02 were exceptional – Van at his best. Knocking it out of the park with a red hot band, he delivered a stunning set of power and presence. This weekend, he’ll be sharing the stage with another soul and roots man enjoying a renewed sense of style and substance, Tom Jones. It’s a crying shame that Bobby Womack is no longer on the bill – his latest album is one of the year’s best. Don Baker and Sinead O’Connor, though, are solid local replacements.

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    Happy birthday:
    Rubyworks are celebrating their 10th birthday – and my is it worth celebrating. A small record label that cuts its own path, with a diverse catalogue, a resolute resistance to chase trends, and a commitment to its acts that goes far beyond the profit margins? If only all record companies were run this way. You can read more about the label here, and this weekend it’s running a series of gigs to pop a few champagne corks. Pick of the bunch is Sunday night’s fandango in the salubrious setting of the Olympia Theatre. The excellent Rodrigo y Gabriela head a rock’n’roll roster featuring Ryan Sheridan, Wallis Bird and Josephine. Happy birthday indeed.

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  • Richard Mosse to represent Ireland at Venice Biennale 2013

    August 22, 2012 @ 12:41 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Ireland’s representative at the Venice Art Biennale 2013, the world’s foremost art event, will be Richard Mosse.

    Mosse was selected after an open call for submissions by Anna O’Sullivan, director of the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, and Ireland’s Commissioner/Curator for Venice 2013. For the Biennale, Mosse will present a “highly ambitious eight-channel multimedia installation on the subject of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo”. (more…)

  • Books to get you punch drunk

    August 20, 2012 @ 6:07 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Katie Taylor’s story is one the most inspiring to come out of Irish sport in years, and boxing has always been one of the richest sporting seams that writers have mined. Here’s just a few boxing cultural moments worth sparring with.

    On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates

    This lightweight of a novella (and we are strictly talking page count) can punch the lights out of most heavier competitors. Oates turns her laser-like focus to boxing, and attacks it from a number of angles, all undercut with a deeply rooted love of the sport. A stunning piece of work, whether you’re a fan of boxing or not.

    The Fight by Normal Mailer

    Even the most cursory of lists couldn’t fail to have Mailer’s definitive work on the card. The book focuses on the 1975 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire when Muhammad Ali took on and beat George Foreman when he was at the height of his formidable power. Brilliant, wild and dazzling, it has often being copied, but probably never quiet bettered.

    Mailer and Ali go toe to toe (more…)

  • ‘Uplifting and fun’ – Tom Waits on his new video

    August 8, 2012 @ 11:33 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Okay, so it ain’t a tour – but it is Crazy Ol’ Tom being the man. Here’s what he has to say about it:

    “As most of you guessed, it’s a tour…a tour de force!

    “Matt Mahurin has created an apocalyptic war dream to accompany the song Hell Broke Luce. Kathleen and I envisioned it as an enlightened drill sergeant yelling the hard truths of war to a brand new batch of recruits. The video grew from the gnawing
    image of a soldier pulling his home, through a battlefield, at the end of a rope.

    “I think you will agree, it’s uplifting and fun.”

    Those are two words we always associate with the great Mr W.

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  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . festivalise

    August 2, 2012 @ 5:27 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    In a festive funk: If you were the king of festival land, and were wearing your finest festival suit, while riding along in your festive carriage being pulled by the most festive horses in all the land, you still wouldn’t be festive enough to handle all that this bank-holiday weekend could throw at you.

    King of the heap by a nose is Castlepalooza, the three-day event that turns Charleville Castle into one enormous house party. Among the acts playing are The Charlatans, Le Galaxie, Ghostpoet, King Charles, Jape, Solar Bears, Little Green Cars, Katie Kim, Donal Dineen and plenty more. Tickets are available for just €50. Suits of armour are optional.

    Meanwhile, in Cork, the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival is laying on the likes of British Sea Power, Feeder, Maverick Sabre, Japanese Popstars, Delorentos, We Cut Corners, and more in Mitchelstown. Tickets for this one are €99.

    Also trying to show you a good time is the Liss Ard 2012 festival featuring Chic (who are bossing their away around various bits of the country at the moment), Lisa Hannigan, Bob Mould, Tieranniesaur, and more. €89.50 gets you through the gate for the whole shebang.

    Solo shows: Away from the festival heap, the standout gig of the weekend could well be James Blake’s DJ set in the Academy on Friday night, and his turn in Stiff Kitten in Belfast on Saturday. The electro producer who everyone wants to work with will be including tracks from his Harmonimix alter ego, with support from The Chain and the hotly tipped Space Dimension Controller.

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    London beatboxer and live improviser Beardyman is also taking the time to perform in Dublin’s Button Factory this weekend – he’s a frequent enough visitor to this part of the world, but given his extraordinary dexterity he always gets a warm welcome.

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    Meanwhile, Nicolas Jaar will be rolling into Dublin on Sunday night for a rare live show, as part of a showcase for his label, Clown & Sunset Records. Support on the night comes from Acid Pauli and Valentin Snip.

    Planning a quiet weekend in, were you? Forget it. All sleep has been cancelled.

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    Do not avert your Gaze: This year sees the Gaze Dublin International LGBT Film Festival celebrate 20 years in action, and it will be calling Dublin’s Light House cinema home for the weekend. Among the highlights on offer are: Leave It On The Floor, Sheldon Larry’s low-budget musical; Carol Channing: Larger than Life, an affectionate if uncritical biopic of the Broadway star; Sexing the Transman, a documentary made by Buck Angel that claims to be the “most progressive sex education film ever made”; and Revealing Mr Maugham, Michael House’s film on the playwright, novelist and spy W Somerset Maugham.

    Fading pictures: The PhotoIreland festival is drawing to a staggered close, but there’s still time to catch some of its host of exhibitions before the pictures come down. Evelyn Hofer’s work will stay in Temple Bar’s Gallery of Photography until August 31st, while Sean Hillen’s work in Northern Ireland from 1979 to 1990 will stay across the way in the National Photographic Archive until the end of September. Kimura Ihei’s pictures of Paris from 1954 to 1955 (below) are at Alliance Française until September, and you have the weekend to squeeze in a fleeting glimpse of the work of Jean Revillard at the Copper House Gallery.

    Eastern promise: If you haven’t seen it already, this is your last chance to take in The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, a glorious exhibition in the Chester Beatty Library, featuring newly restored 17th-century Japanese picture scrolls that illustrate the oldest Japanese work of prose fiction. I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, but it’s worth repeating, and here’s Gemma Tipton’s article on these scrolls, perhaps the first ever Japanese sci-fi story.

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