Kendrick Lamar, The Script and Imagining Ireland: The best pop and rock this week
Beth Orton is back on the gig trail; The Lost Brothers find their way around Ireland; British Sea Power sail on; and The Pale are still hale 25 years later
The Script: big nights at the big arenas
Imagining Ireland: 21st Century Song
National Concert Hall, Dublin; Saturday, February 3rd, 8pm; €34/€30/€27; nch.ie
As part of NCH’s Perspectives series, BellX1’s Paul Noonan and NCH head of programme planning Gary Sheehan have devised a follow-up to 2016’s Imagining Ireland event. For this event (which also visits London’s Barbican Centre on March 5th), the focus is on emerging Irish artists in music and spoken word. Noonan and Lisa Hannigan perform with and introduce the likes of Saint Sister, Maria Kelly, Brian Deady, Loah, Seamus Fogarty and J Colleran. Spoken-word highlights, meanwhile, include poet Stephen James Smith and grime/hip-hop duo Mango & Mathman (who, incidentally, raised the roof during Other Voices two months ago).
The Shape of Dublin to Come with Lorenzo Senni
The Button Factory, Dublin; Saturday, February 3rd, 11pm; €11.04-€16.56; eventbrite.ie
Grayscale and Hidden Agenda have pulled a blinder with this gig, with the headline slot going to Italian producer Lorenzo Senni and support coming from Cork’s ELLLL and Dublin’s CLU. Senni’s minimalistic trance will only heighten the euphoria that ELLLL and CLU will have so kindly laid out for you. Complete with hypnotising visuals, this is a night that will tend to all of your senses.
Super Extra Bonus Party
Róisín Dubh, Galway; Saturday, February 3rd, 9pm; free; roisindubh.net
Well, look who it is. It’s the SEBP lads and, for their very first gig of the year, they’ve decided to throw the people of Galway a free gig. How kind. The 2007 Choice album of the year winners are back, meaning that their hiatus is officially over. If you’ve haven’t sampled their latest single Switzerland, then get on that and make sure you turn up on time to get a good spot to celebrate the return of the Newbridge group.
Quarter Block Party
Various venues, North/South Main Street, Cork; Saturday, February 3rd, and Sunday, February 4th, various times; €27.10/€16.54/€11.27; uticket.ie
This three-day music/arts festival continues until Sunday and is held along Cork city’s North and South Streets, which the organisers say are “the platform, the stage, the canvas” for the presentation of groundbreaking creative work. In venues such as Triskel Arts Centre, The Roundy, Kino, BDSM and St Peters, all manner of creative activity will be taking place. Saturday’s events include two live podcasts at The Roundy (The Point of Everything, 1pm; No Encore, 2pm), music at AMP (Davy Kehoe, 10pm; Bad Bones, 11pm), and back at The Roundy (Pale Rivers 10.30pm; R Kitt 11.30pm). The festival concludes on Sunday with events at BDSM – Sing Along Social at 8pm and Quarter Block Party DJs from 10pm. Visit quarterblockparty.com for full details.
Shine Presents: Feel My Bicep
The Telegraph Building, Belfast; Saturday, February 3rd, 9pm; £25; ticketweb.ie
Bicep, Daniel Avery, Moxie, Hammer and Cormac. Phew. That is one hefty line-up. Feel My Bicep (go on . . . touch it) is an event series curated by Bicep’s Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar, and it’s the first time since 2016 that they will host the night in their hometown of Belfast. Bringing together some of the best international names in techno and house, Feel My Bicep is the club night you’ve always dreamed of.
Whelan’s, Dublin; Saturday, February 3rd, 8pm; €20/€15; whelanslive.com
Sooner or later an anniversary will come around that will make you wonder how all those years could have passed so quickly. Which brings us to the 25th birthday (or thereabouts) of Dublin band The Pale’s official debut album, Here’s One We Made Earlier. Released on (then) major label A&M in 1992, the album was evocatively described by Vox magazine as “mandolin frenzy that could only otherwise exist if Les Voix Bulgares became involved in an industrial drinking accident”. For all of that, the band – still fronted by that charming man Matthew Deveraux – is much more than the sum of its parts, as anyone who has seen them perform will surely confirm.
UK songwriter Beth Orton started out over 20 years ago merging folk (Bert Jansch, Nick Drake) and electronic (Chemical Brothers, William Orbit) to notable success with albums such as 1996’s Trailer Park and 1999’s Central Reservation. Never one to be pigeonholed, however, she soon steered clear from this gap-bridging music (dubbed, all-too inevitably, “folktronica”) and set about doing what came just as naturally: writing simple, quality songs. Usually, Orton performs in larger venues, so these two up-close-and-personal gigs are most definitely worth your time and ticket price.
The Olympia, Dublin; Sunday, February 4th, 7pm; €30-33 (VIP packages €95.50); ticketmaster.ie
Canadian rapper and singer Jahron Anthony Brathwaite, aka PartyNextDoor, is bringing his Infinity Tour to Dublin – and with a name like that, you really hope that the party is on in The Olympia and not in Brogan’s. Although . . . it’s not a bad substitute. Signed by Drake’s OVO Sound record label in 2013, he’s part of the young and thriving Canadian hip-hop scene and a reliable feature act for big acts like Zayn and Big Sean.
Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin; Monday, February 5th, 8pm; €13; whelanslive.com
North of England’s Yungblud (aka Doncaster-based Dominic Harrison) has been creating quite a stir over the past 12 months. His Irish debut will see him deliver the kind of strong-willed and clever suburban narratives that we loved about early Arctic Monkeys and/or Jamie T. Something of a canny, natural wordsmith – AM’s Alex Turner and Kendrick Lamar are substantial influences – Harrison frames his words in ska and hip-hop rhythms. Expect an object lesson, then, in assertiveness and attitude from a soon-to-be high profile music act who has said of himself, “I was the kid who the mums used to hate.” Cards duly marked?
British Sea Power
Cyprus Avenue, Cork; Monday, February 5th, 9pm; €17.50; cyprusavenue.ie; Whelan’s, Dublin; Tuesday, February 6th, 8pm; €17.50; whelanslive.com; and The Limelight, Belfast; Wednesday, February 7th, 8pm; £16.50; limelightbelfast.com
Brighton-based British Sea Power have seen enough ups and downs in their 18-year existence to know they’re taking part in a continuous Generation Game. Their 2003 debut, The Decline of British Sea Power, failed to dent the UK Top 50; 2010’s high-point album, Do You Like Rock Music? sailed into the Top 10; last year’s Let the Dancers Inherit the Party sat outside the Top 20. All of that is grist to the mill for such an experienced band noted for its intense live shows. Seeing them in such compact venues will be a treat for the fans and a good surprise for the curious or ambivalent.
SSE Arena, Belfast; Tuesday, February 6th, 8pm; £49/£41.50/£30; ssearenabelfast.com; and 3Arena, Dublin; Thursday, February 8th, Friday, February 9th and Saturday, February 10th, all 8pm; €42.55 (sold out); ticketmaster.ie
Ten years of The Script (as in from the release of their highly successful self-titled debut album; the trio formed in 2001) hasn’t blunted their pulling power as an arena act, as proven by the three sold-out gigs at Dublin’s 3Arena. The band – Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan, Glen Power – has continued to involve itself further in amalgamating pop and hip-hop, the results of which don’t always work. This said, there’s little doubt the songwriting nous of O’Donoghue and Sheehan – forged from past experience as writers/producers for the likes of TLC and Beyoncé – is instinctive and clued-in, so, you know, fair play etc.
District 8 Presents: Nightmares on Wax
The Tivoli, Dublin; Tuesday, February 6th; €27.38; district8dublin.com
Just off the very fresh release of his eighth album Shape the Future, which is a very seductive combination of soul, electronica, dub and hip-hop, Nightmares on Wax frontman George Evelyn is bringing his live show to Dublin. The Leeds composer and DJ, who also goes by DJ E.A.S.E., will crank his set up a notch to suit his surroundings but keep the album on standby for when you need those quieter moments.
3Arena, Dublin; Wednesday, February 7th, 8pm; €62 (sold out); ticketmaster.ie
With more than a handful of Grammy nominations for last year’s standout album, Damn (including Record of the Year and Best Rap Album), as well as “curating” the soundtrack to the highly anticipated superhero/action movie Black Panther, Kendrick Lamar’s star looks set to rise even higher this year. Described by New Yorker magazine as “a master of storytelling”, Lamar is the jazz/funk-flavoured, verbally dexterous hip-hop performer that people who say they don’t like hip-hop are surprised they like. He’s starting the European leg of his Damn tour on Wednesday evening; expect a somewhat low-key arena show that is more about emotional resonance than ego. Support act is UK songwriter/producer James Blake, whose delicate music (while coming with a Lamar seal of approval) may be lost in front of such a partisan audience.
This year, Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album, Trails of the Lonely, but for such an outwardly casual approach (their website biog claims they were initially “writing songs by accident and demoing them for fun”), the musicians/songwriters have been prolific enough, releasing a new album every two years. Their latest (fifth) album, Halfway Towards a Healing, enhances the duo’s soft but yearning music. If you haven’t yet seen them perform, try to make amends on their nationwide tour, which continues until February 24th. See thelostbrothersband.com for further details of venues.
Once Upon a Time Back the West
Róisín Dubh, The Blue Note, Massimo and Leisureland, Galway; Thursday, February 8th, to Sunday, February 11th, various times; various prices; facebook.com/onceuponatimebackthewest
If you’re looking for some music, comedy or simply a Franz Ferdinand gig in Leisureland (Leisureland!), then Once Upon a Time Back the West, the festival that’s taking over the pubs and clubs of Galway city’s westside, is just the ticket. Featuring music from Daithi, Elaine Mai and Le Boom, comedy from Karl Spain, as well as a special Sing Along Social in the Róisín, the craic will come in thick and fast here.