Boys in the better band: Fontaines DC head this week’s best rock and pop gigs

Dido, Happy Mondays, Aldous Harding, Rufus and Martha Wainwright . . . and Whitney

Saturday November 30

Grand Social, Dublin ; also Friday 6, Cleere's, Kilkenny
As one band implodes so another rises up? Former members of the rather fine Irish rock group Sub Motion have bunched together for the next phase of their sonic assault. The result is Sick Love, a four-piece that advances former approaches of taking no prisoners to capturing as many of them as they can. Making the right kind of commercial shapes in the UK (where it seems they play as many shows as they do in Ireland), Sick Love are also looking towards the US, where they have recently teamed up with Los Angeles-based sync agency Pick & Mix. 2020? Looking good, we'd safely say. TCL

Cyprus Avenue, Cork
18 years ago, two young bucks made their debut in Cork as Fish Go Deep but instead of making their birthday all about them, they're making it about all things house in Cork city. Honouring the likes the club night Sweat in the now-demolished Sir Henry's, where plenty of acid house weekenders were held in the 1980s, they'll play house classics all night to celebrate the journey from being green DJs to becoming infamous party starters. Doors are at 9pm. LB

Sunday December 1

3Arena, Dublin
There was a time when Dido's calm songs were grist to the mill for those that wanted to vent about how dull music was getting, but years pass, opinions change (or not), and we are now in the year when she received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection. Although not very prolific (she has released a modest five albums in 20 years), Dido nevertheless successfully captures the pang of post-relationship heartbreak and fractures. She might be best known for her first pair of albums – 1999's No Angel and 2003's Life for Rent – but the same level of craft continues, with this year's Still on My Mind sounding, Pitchfork states, "serene, unbothered and preternaturally confident". Let's put it this way: there'll be no sending them home sweatin' tonight. TCL

The Academy, Dublin
With a name that's near-impossible to Google, Whitney took a risk, but the indie darlings from Chicago have used it to their advantage. It's a name that makes you do a double take, but once you make your peace that they're not the Whitney, you can happily dive right in. Sharing this weekend with an appearance in Dingle's St James's Church for Other Voices, they're making the most of their time in Ireland. If you can't make either gig, this year's Forever Turned Around is worthy of your time. LB


Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Yolanda Quartey performed at this venue about a month ago (as support to Greta Van Fleet), but such is her pulling power that she is back as a headliner this time. Previously a backing singer for the likes of Chemical Brothers, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry and Massive Attack, Yola has been a solo act for a few years, leaning from her bread-and-butter of dance/pop to the more vocational areas of Americana/country/soul. To this end, she released her Dan Auerbach-produced debut album, Walk Through Fire, earlier this year, promptly setting a genre standard with a collection of songs the Wall Street Journal described as "an introduction to a seasoned, major vocalist". TCL

Monday December 2


NCH, Dublin; also Tuesday 3
It is a rare enough event, for sure: the voices of Rufus and Martha Wainwright together on stage. In Dublin. Three weeks before Christmas. It is a special pair of shows, too: subtitled A Not So Silent Night, and based around the Wainwright and McGarrigle family tradition, there will be seasonal treats aplenty from the clan, as well as from special guests such as Loah, Paul Brady, Lisa O'Neill and Conor O'Brien. While wintry cheer will be widely distributed, there is a serious undertaking to the shows: all profits will go towards the Kate McGarrigle Fund, which supports sarcoma research, and a music therapy program for cancer patients to be launched by Martha Wainwright in association with Stand Up to Cancer Canada. To optimise this funding, various up-close-and-personal opportunities are available for an additional fee. See for further details. TCL

Tuesday December 3

Vicar Street, Dublin
Another quite special songwriter and singer that we have seen graduate from small to sizeable Dublin venues, Hannah Sian Topp (who changed her performing name to Aldous Harding, named in part after her well-known New Zealand-based mother, Lorina Harding) has to her name three albums – her 2014 self-titled debut, 2017's Party and this year's Designer. From one album (and, indeed, one song) to the next, Harding has staked a claim for individuality, but Designer's pastoral sensibility is the work that has given her a far higher profile. Treat yourselves to this one. TCL

Cyprus Avenue, Cork; Also Limelight, Belfast, Wednesday 4; Vicar Street, Dublin, Thursday 5
They had their time in the sunshine, it has to be said, and justifiably so. Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, Salford's Happy Mondays pioneered a fusion of funk, house, indie, psychedelic and rave that quickly morphed into what came to be called the Madchester sound. Buzzing on the music and anything else they could ingest, the band influenced the likes of The Stone Roses and The Charlatans before splitting up in 1993. They've been back and forth like an old yoyo, of course, because everyone loves a burst of nostalgia, and what better way to celebrate their 40th decade as a band than with a run-through of their third album, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, inarguably their creative peak. The Cork and Belfast shows are sold out. TCL

Thursday December 5

The Darkroom, Dublin
To celebrate the release of Participant's new EP Modern Retelling, a gentle EP that blends acoustic guitar with forthright lyrics, Stephen Tiernan is putting on a very special show in collaboration with The Darkroom on North Brunswick Street. This is Tiernan's first headlining show in a while and he promises an intimate performance. Taking place in an actual darkroom, where the cover of the EP was shot, this gig will have a limited capacity so you're advised to get your tickets quickly. Doors are at 7pm. LB

Friday December 6

Whelan's Upstairs, Dublin
Waterford's Alex Gough has experienced a profile-raising 12 months, with 2020 tipped as his potential breakthrough. No pressure, then, as the drummer/producer/rapper – who impressed many with his work at Ireland Music Week a couple of months ago – finishes the year with a headline show here. Tracks such as Step to Me, Afraidofmoney and Breakfast (his most recent single that gained much traction in the UK courtesy of various BBC and Amazing Radio DJs) highlight a sprightly approach that will surely grab the attention of those searching for their next hip-hop/jazz fusion fix. TCL

Encore, Kildare
"Half a decade, 1,000 hangovers and we're none the wiser." It's been five years since the disco-loving duo from Newbridge started playing tunes together and while they claim to have learnt nothing, they've got plenty to show for their time as Mix & Fairbanks. For just a tenner in, you can catch Jimmy Rouge from the Orange Tree Edits label and Magnier from the House of Disco on support. It runs from 10pm until close, so kickstart Christmas with a feverish, disco bang from two of Kildare's finest. LB

Limelight, Belfast ; also Saturday 7, Academy, Dublin
Anyone with a liking for post-punk heritage bands need look no further than tonight's gig, which features two of Scotland's best-known groups. Formed in Dunfermline in 1977, The Skids released a few punk rock classics (Into the Valley, The Saints Are Coming, Animation, Circus Games) but in 1980 the band's co-founding guitarist, the late Stuart Adamson, left and formed Big Country. That band also went on to have several major international hit songs. Both band are historically and creatively intertwined (Big Country's original guitarist Bruce Watson is also a member of The Skids), so expect a call to arms, legs, hands and feet as people of a certain age connect with the songs. TCL

Saturday December 7


Vicar Street, Dublin; also Sunday 8
Well, now – that was a good year, wasn't it? After 2018's slow-rising introduction to the public at large, this year was the one that brought Fontaines DC outside niche and into the mainstream. Just over six months ago, also, their debut album, Dogrel, was released, garnering them high-profile outings such as a Mercury Music Prize nomination and a much-admired appearance at Glastonbury. These two Dublin shows will certainly be viewed as celebratory, but there will also be, to a degree, a closing of the band's first chapter. Next year will see album number two but not before a nomination (surely?) on the 2019 Choice Music Prize Album of the Year list. Special guest for these shows are Los Angeles-based Warm Drag. Gigs of the week, for certain – and they're sold out, too. TCL

Button Factory, Dublin
Having made his Boiler Room debut earlier this year and generally blowing everyone's heads off with his set at All Together Now, Dublin producer and DJ R Kitt is putting together a special headlining show in the Button Factory. Working with visual maestros Algorithm, this will be a late night, audio visual spectacle. A tonic for the soul, a serotonin boost for the body and a feast for the eyes and ears, this is going to be one hell of a night out. LB

Dalymount Park, Dublin
A calendar highlight for many, the annual Yule party tends to bring some of the most wonderful Irish musicians together for a party that thrives on warmth and kindness. Organised by Siobhán Kane from Young Hearts Run Free, this event is in aid of the Dublin Simon Community and while special guests won't be revealed until the night, we can confirm that Paddy Hanna, Rachel Lavelle, Tandem Felix and a Scott Walker tribute supergroup will be playing in the home of Bohs. LB