This week we were

 

. . . playing: The crime saga LA Noire(from the makers of Grand Theft Auto) and admiring its ambition and storytelling.

. . . listening to

The new album from Arctic Monkeys,– Suck It and See.The Sheffield band have their pop mojo back with a cracking collection of songs.

The captivating bluegrass album Redhills,by Irish band I Draw Slow.

Cold War Kids’ small but impressive back catalogue after their storming gig at the Academy this week.

. . . reading

The Tenderloin,John Butler’s much anticipated debut novel.

Alfred Bester’s extraordinary 1956 novel, The Stars My Destination,the classic sci-fi from Gollancz’s SF Masterworks series. It’s as innovative now as it was then.

. . . talking about

Mel Gibson with a glove puppet, the two sides of dance and the plans for the literary centre on the weekly Culture Podcast at irishtimes.com and on iTunes.

. . . saying 


Humour will always do one or the other: a joke that doesn’t work loses its author far more brownie points than a weak plot point or a clunky sentence - Author Ed O’Loughlin on the perils of writing a comic novel, in Wednesday’s LifeCulture

  . . . going to

Futurescapes, Leo Scarff’s arresting sculptures based on natural and artificial structures, at Leitrim Sculpture Centre.

. . . watching Sufjan Stevens at the Olympia

There has always been a transcendent quality to Sufjan Stevens, apparent in both his demeanour and his music, but it was never quite as pronounced as during the first song in this thrilling, psychedelic, exultant performance.

As he gently sang Seven Swans, the stage shrouded in darkness with a constellation of stars dancing on the screen behind him, the lights suddenly rose, and from his back appeared a giant pair of white wings, feathered and poised for flight.

Immediately, it was clear: Sufjan Stevens is an angel among us, with a mission to spread his singular musical vision.

This was easily the most breathtakingly imaginative and colourful production to visit Dublin in many years; Stevens called it a cosmic pageant, which was about right. He and his nine-piece band were bedecked in fluorescent strips, glowing and dancing as the songs demanded, while the screen was filled with childlike cartoons and trippy visuals. As if an ambitious amateur dramatic society decided to stage Tron with extra helpings of interpretative dance.

The songs were mostly from his two most recent releases, the ambitious and sprawling The Age of Adz and the All Delighted People EP, but the folk songs with which he made his name made occasional cameos, little interludes of clarity amid the frenetic discord.

It ended with the most spectacular finale of recent memory, a distended rendition of Impossible Soul, nearly 30 minutes of euphoric chorus-singing and showmanship, simultaneously encapsulating all his self-indulgence and genius, replete with a carnival of costumes, confetti and streamers. Stevens often dares us to be frustrated or baffled, but above all he dares us to be entertained: our ears, and our retinas, won’t be treated to anything like this for a long, long time. DAVIN O'DWYER

. . . admiring

Kinsale Arts Week’s novel approach to a programme launch: it’s got an eponymous racehorse to do the honours.

. . . looking forward to

Roger Waters and Sade (below) at the O2: neurotic rock on Monday and Tuesday, smoochy soul/pop on Wednesday.

Suede’s ‘three albums in three nights’ stint at the Olympia this week.