Elbow, Imagine Dragons, Seal, Ricki Lee Jones – the best rock and pop this week

Marlon Williams, Dappy, Shakey Graves and Middle East fundraiser among the highlights

Elbow’s Guy Garvey performs at The Hammersmith Apollo in London. File photograph: Rob Ball/WireImage

Elbow’s Guy Garvey performs at The Hammersmith Apollo in London. File photograph: Rob Ball/WireImage

 

Saturday, February 24th

Elbow

3Arena, Dublin, 8pm, €59.50 ticketmaster.ie

With a recent Best Of album to plug, and on the back of a huge response to their version of The Beatles’s Golden Slumbers (which was used for last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad campaign), Elbow have rarely been so popular. Viewed by some as a middle-aged avuncular response to caring and sharing, talking and listening – and driven by an apparent love of classic Genesis and Talk Talk – Elbow’s music isn’t for everyone, but there’s no point telling that to the band’s sizeable contingent of Irish fans. Expect a show rammed with songs that will bring the capacity crowd much joy, if not an epiphany or two. Special guest is John Grant, another favourite of discerning Irish audiences. Gig of the week. TCL

Bodytonic Presents: Daniel Wang

Wigwam, Dublin, 11pm, €13.32 -€16.66 wigwamdublin.com

Humming off a disco mainline, Daniel Wang is the type of DJ that feeds off the energy in a room and then makes it his mission to get people in there moving. Born in California, reared in Taiwan and then educated in the ways of disco in New York’s club scene during the 1990s, he moved to Berlin where he immersed himself further in club culture. Bringing disco, soul and house together, he’ll tend your to every dancing need. LB

Syrias Vibes Presents: Yemenade

The Grand Social, Dublin, 8pm, €10 thegrandsocial.ie

Syrias Vibes, the organisation that fundraises via live gigs and events for those affected by war in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, is putting Ships, Carriages, Cinema, Diamond Dagger and The Drifter on the bill so that they can raise enough money send a container full of medicines and medical supplies to Yemen. The live sets kick off at 8pm and the DJs will take you on until late. A great line up for an even greater cause. LB

The Last Discotekken Jungle Book Party

The Sugar Club, Dublin, 9pm, €6.72-€16.81 thesugarclub.com

In the fifth and very final run of Discotekken Jungle Book Party, you can enjoy music from some of the acts who have all contributed somehow to the last five years of this beloved night. DJ sets from Donal Dineen and Papa Lou and live performances from Morro 16, the 18-piece samba band and, of course, a screening of The Jungle Book. One sure way to forget about your worries and your strife. LB

Marlon Williams

Whelan’s, Dublin, 8pm, €15, whelanslive.com

Brilliant singer-songwriters from New Zealand aren’t ten a penny, let’s be honest, so when someone from so far away makes such an impression with a music style that bridges folk, blues, country and bluegrass it’s a good idea to sit up and take note. Williams’s self-titled debut, released three years ago, set tongues wagging with its hard-earned songs about emotional losses and tough times. Channelling Gram Parsons as much as Nick Cave, the album’s tenor leaned towards the dark side. Follow-up album, the just-released Make Way for Love, documents the singer’s break-up with fellow Kiwi singer/songwriter Aldous Harding, herself a recent visitor to Ireland, and the results are as you’d expect: honest-to-goodness heartache in the shape of really good songs. TCL

Sunday, February 25th

Rickie Lee Jones

Vicar Street, Dublin, 7.30pm, €40 ticketmaster.ie

Now here’s a blast from the past. Rickie Lee Jones has had a stop-start career as a musician and songwriter – the so-called “Duchess of Coolsville” released her self-titled debut album in 1979, and embarked on, initially at least, a hugely successful stint that included Grammy wins, Rolling Stone covers and Billboard hits. There then followed periods of transition and experimentation, few of which appealed to the core fan base that grooved to the likes of her best-known song, Chuck E’s in Love. Despite this, Jones has valiantly soldiered on. She puts her own boho stamp on all she does and cares little for the vagaries of commercial success. More power to her, we say. TCL

Seal

The Olympia, Dublin, 8pm. €59.50 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie

In support of his album Standards, which sees him covering classics such as I Put a Spell on You and My Funny Valentine and the album he’s always wanted to make, apparently, Seal is coming to The Olympia to woo and serenade with other people’s music. But he’ll throw in a few of his own because it would be criminal to omit Kiss from a Rose. Even though it’s sold out, some tickets are available for an outrageous price on third-party sites. LB

Nils Frahm
Nils Frahm

Monday, February 26th

Nils Frahm

National Concert Hall, Dublin, 8pm, €30 (sold out) nch.ie Also Tuesday Mandela Hall, Belfast, 7pm, £27.75 mandelahall.com

All too quickly we tend to shove musicians under categories that don’t always match, but there’s little point trying to pigeonhole Nils Frahm. Throughout his career, the German musician has made certain to frustrate those who feel the need to shoehorn him by producing music that subtly blends ambient electronica with minimal jazz. As if to make it even more difficult for those pigeonholers, Frahm’s latest album, All Melody, mostly replaces meditative piano with a range of keyboards (including harmonium and synthesisers) as well as trumpet, beatbox, percussion and choir. Prepare for blissed-out lift-off. TCL

Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons

3Arena, Dublin, 8pm, €41.05 ticketmaster.ie

It seems The Killers is not the only internationally successful rock band to have emerged from Las Vegas. Say hello, then, to Imagine Dragons, who this year celebrate 10 years as a going concern. It took three years of hard slog to the point when the band knew success was coming – debut album Night Visions, released in 2012, reached the top spot on Billboard’s Rock and Alternative charts. The music industry publication subsequently named them 2012’s Brightest New Stars and Breakout Band of 2013. From that point onwards the only way was up. Presently schlepping their third (and Grammy-nominated) album, Evolve, around the globe, keep your ears open for arena-sized electro-rock anthems. Special guest is US lo-fi/hip-hop songwriter K Flay. Born Kristine Flaherty, she might have a relative or two in the audience. Give her a firm Irish welcome, anyway, yes? TCL

Tuesday, February 27th

Dappy

The Academy, Dublin, 8pm, €23 ticketmaster.ie

Famous for wearing silly hats when he appeared as a contestant on BBC’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks and vaguely known for fronting N-Dubz, the hip-hop group that brought Tulisa Contostavlos to fame, rapper and singer Dappy is back. In his new single Trill (Refix), he boasts that: “We had my tunes before iTunes/Bebo before Myspace.” So undefeated and immune to any criticisms, maybe Dappy will outlive us all. LB

Wednesday, February 28th

Stephanie Rainey

Sugar Club, Dublin, 8pm €16.35 thesugarclub.com Also Thursday Mike the Pies, Listowel, Co Kerry, 8pm €15 (sold out) mikethepies.com; Friday, Cyprus Avenue, Cork, 8pm €15 cyprusavenue.ie

Just in case anyone thinks that to succeed in the music business these days you need to be surrounded by cute-hoor managers, sneaky lawyers and pushy PR people, Cork singer and songwriter Stephanie Rainey has proved otherwise. One song made all the difference: written about a family tragedy, Please Don’t Go racked up millions of views on various social media platforms. For Rainey, who had spent the best part of 10 years intrepidly chipping away as a songwriter, the success of Please Don’t Go is bittersweet. Onwards and upwards we go, however, as these shows form part of a nationwide tour and the launch of her new single, Question Mark. TCL

Friday, March 2nd

Chris Difford

Christchurch, Castlebar, Co Mayo, 7.45pm €25 cwb.ie

This is a rarity – Chris Difford, one of Squeeze’s two primary songwriters and vocalists goes it alone to tour some of Ireland’s most intimate venues. The format is different, however, from the usual solo shows, as the songwriter will not only play a rake of Squeeze songs but also read excerpts from his recent best-selling autobiography, Some Fantastic Place. So let’s see – Cool for Cats, Up the Junction, Labelled with Love, Hourglass, and Tempted? Yarns and tales (some of them tall, no doubt) about being in one of the best pop groups of the past 40 years? Seriously, what’s not to love? The nationwide tour continues until March 10th (Ballymaloe Grainstore, Cork), and Difford will have a special guest at each show. TCL

Roe
Roe

Ailbhe Reddy & Roe

St John the Baptist Church of Ireland, Church Avenue, Drumcondra, Dublin, 8.30pm, €15 eventbrite.ie

Under the banner title of “new sounds in an old place”, northside Dublin voluntary arts group GlasDrum continues its astute gathering of emerging and established talent, and placing same in a venue that is conducive to listening. Effectively a co-headline show, Ailbhe Reddy and Roe are two Irish singer-songwriters that are rapidly gaining traction within the music industry – Reddy recently signed a publishing deal with London-based BDI Music, while Roe (aka Róisín Donald) is currently basking in the glow of positive reviews for her recent single, Wasted. Patient. Thinking, which is creeping up the all-important Spotify playlist. TCL

Django Django
Django Django

Django Django

The Tivoli, Dublin, €24.64 tivoli.ie

Their third album Marble Skies, released at the end of January, is still fresh to the world and luckily Django Django, the art rock group consisting of members from the England, Scotland and Ireland, can come to Dublin before the songs gain any weariness. For them. Not us. Songs from their debut, self-titled album will get you moving more than their latest offering, but they’re bound to get you bopping no matter what. LB

Shakey Graves
Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Whelan’s Dublin 7.30pm, €18.50 (sold out) whelanslive.com

Oh, but we Irish have long memories – and we love Shakey Graves, too, because when the town of Dingle watched him on stage in St James’s Church a few years ago (as part of Other Voices) no one forgot how good he was. Graves (real name Alejandro Rose-Garcia) returned to Ireland about six months after that Co Kerry gig and made even more friends. So now we have a sold-out show that could probably have been shifted to a bigger venue. That’s for next time, perhaps. Right now, Shakey will be performing with a full band, and previewing new material from his forthcoming album, Can’t Wake Up. Special guest is Canadian country/folk/blues singer-songwriter, Cat Clyde. TCL

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