Morrissey, Wiley, Rex Orange County, Katie Laffan: the best rock and pop this week

Plus a lesson in scratches and breaks from Grandmaster Flash


Saturday, February 17

Word Up Gala
Bernard Shaw, Dublin; 2pm; free; also Sunday;
Is there such a thing as authentic Irish hip hop? The answer should be delivered at this two-day celebration of Irish spoken word, organised by the pioneering Dublin-based collective Word Up. For a few years it has showcased virtually every major spoken-word figure on the national urban scene, with quite a few of these making names for themselves outside Ireland. The likes of Tebi Rex, Felispeaks, Sasha Terfous (bel0w), Sequence and JyellowL will perform over the two days, along with newer acts such as Reuben James, Why-Axis, Jake Hurley and Sick Nanley. During a debate on Sunday afternoon, meanwhile, that “authentic Irish hip hop” question will surely be answered. TCL

Rex Orange County
Academy, Dublin; 7pm; €15 (sold out);
Not yet 20, the English singer-songwriter Alex O’Connor (below) was a virtual unknown less than two years ago. In 2016 he was an aspiring musician who uploaded his songs to SoundCloud in the hope that people would listen. One person who did was the R&B songwriter Tyler, the Creator, who whisked O’Connor off to Los Angeles to collaborate on a couple of tracks that eventually found their way on to last year’s Flower Boy album. Lauded as well by Frank Ocean and Skepta, O’Connor was also runner-up in the BBC’s Sound of 2018 list. If a hybrid of honest-to-goodness lyrics, R&B, electronic and jazz is your thing, try to blag your way into this one. TCL

Sunday, February 18

Whelan’s, Dublin; 8pm; €13;
Since the release in October of Malojian’s fourth album, Let Your Weirdness Carry You Home, which has quite the Rolodex of guest appearances – Beck, the REM drummer Joey Waronker, and the Teenage Fanclub bassist, among others – Stevie Scullion has been dipping his toe into live shows near his native Lurgan and in Britain. Here he’s playing the main venue at Whelan’s with a full band. Scullion’s gentle indie-pop comes with hidden jokes, twinges of sadness and simple stories that feel comfortably yet uniquely familiar. LB

Monday, February 19

Olympia Theatre, Dublin; 7pm; €27.90;
Admit it: you have no idea who Linus Eklow and Christian Karlsson are, do you? Eyebrows will arch when you hear that Eklow cowrote Icona Pop’s I Love It, and Karlsson cowrote Britney Spears’s Toxic. Individually, the Swedes are hitmakers, but when they teamed up as Galantis, signing to an imprint of Atlantic Records in 2013, they decided to follow their art, not the money, by blending serious lyrics with the buzz of electro-pop. Yet the money continues to tag along, as Galantis’s two celebrated albums – 2015’s Pharmacy and last year’s The Aviary – rake in the sales and streams. Special guests include the New York DJ and producer CID and the Vancouver DJ and producer Pat Lok. TCL

Tuesday, February 20th

3Arena, Dublin; 8pm; €69.50;
It may now seem outlandish (if not ridiculous), but in 2006, in a poll overseen by the BBC’s Culture Show, Morrissey was voted the second-greatest living British cultural icon. (David Attenborough nabbed first place.) In the past decade or so he has hardly added to such acclaim: a sizeable autobiography in need of a decisive editor, a risible debut novel, three patchy albums (2009’s Years of Refusal, 2014’s World Peace Is None of Your Business and last year’s Low in High School), and some divisive quotes about politics, multiculturalism and terrorism. Yet there are people who regard him (with some justification) as one of contemporary music’s most influential songwriters. On occasion he’s still able to pull out a zinger of a song (there are a few on his latest album), but we’re not so sure that someone whose glory days are long behind him will fill this venue. TCL

Olympia Theatre, Dublin; 7pm; €26;
From being dubbed the Godfather of Grime to being bestowed with an MBE in the 2018 New Year honours list, for services to music, it has been a curious trip for the 39-year-old Londoner Richard Kylie Cowie. In the early Noughties Wiley was a member of the UK garage act Pay as U Go; he ended the decade a solo star. He is also one of the most prolific of the past 15 years, with a dozen albums and the same number of mixtapes to his name. His new album, Godfather II, is released this week, so expect this show to focus on that one. Rest assured, however, that he has enough material under his belt to turn this one into a marathon. TCL

Wednesday, February 21

Homebeat Present : Christian Löffler + String Ensemble
Sugar Club, Dublin; 8pm; €12.50;
“All my music is connected by a gloomy spirit, which is minted by a warm sincerity,” says the German electronic musician Christian Löffler, who’s a dab hand at the melancholy. Performing previously unreleased music and songs from 2012’s A Forest and 2016’s Mare, Löffler will be joined by Mohna, the vocalist from Me Succeeds, a Hamburg indie pop band, and four violinists on the night, just to push that gloom and sincerity even further. LB

Thursday, February 22

Katie Laffan
Whelan’s, Dublin; 8pm; €13;
One of this year’s rising stars, Katie Laffan belies her petite stature with a substantial sound that embraces all manner of styles: from reggae/ska and hip hop/funk to slivers of punk and slices of pop, the Dubliner has everything covered. With such a broad range, you might think she has bitten off more than she can chew, but based on a performance we caught at Other Voices, in Dingle, last December, her ability to tie all of the strands together highlights as smart a cookie as we’ve seen in years. Highly recommended, this one. TCL

Grandmaster Flash
Opium Rooms, Dublin; €20 advance/€25 on the door;
Not only is the renowned hip-hop DJ Grandmaster Flash going to get you moving, he’s also going to show you how he moves you. Instead of reaching underneath the counter and showing you “something he made earlier”, his scratches and breaks will all be displayed on a big screen for any eager beavers to take notes during the first (apparently) visual history of New York hip-hop block parties. LB

Dermot Kennedy
Olympia Theatre, Dublin; 7pm; €22 (sold out);
“Hotly tipped” is such a cliché that it’s virtually the same as “see you at the bargain bin in 12 months”, yet for Dermot Kennedy it rings true. Less than four years ago the Dubliner wasn’t even a twinkle in a record company’s eye, but these days, now signed to a major label, nabbing a World’s Best spot on Zane Lowe’s Beats1 show, and appearing on Taylor Swift’s Spotify list, the singer-songwriter seems set for mainstream success. If you like dramatic and earnest balladic songs with hints of David Gray then Dermot’s your man. TCL

3Arena, Dublin; €51;
What is a Kygo, you may ask. Kygo is Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, a Norwegian DJ and producer. Really, though, Kygo is a state of mind, a chart sensation thanks to guest vocalists like Selena Gomez landing a hand on It Ain’t Me and, since the Rio 2016, the first house-music producer to perform at an Olympic closing ceremony. House is a generous term for his radio-friendly EDM, but, sure, we’ll leave him to it. LB

Friday, February 23

Wyvern Lingo
Button Factory, Dublin; 7.30pm; €19.50 (sold out);
It has been a long time coming for Wyvern Lingo, but after two fine EPs – 2014’s The Widow Knows and 2016’s Letter to Willow – Caoimhe Barry, Karen Crowley and Saoirse Duane finally present their self-titled debut album. The trio have altered their musical outlook in the past few years: the women started as, essentially, an indie folk act but have gradually, successfully engaged with a funkier R&B style that suits them from the top down. This album-launch gig sold out ages ago, but with a nationwide tour continuing until March 11th you’ll have no excuse. Venues and dates at TCL

Join Me in the Pines
Connolly’s of Leap, Cork; 8pm; €15;
Like the rest of us, the Bell X1 musician and Join Me in the Pines creator David Geraghty is making some new-year-new-me promises. His solo tour will see him clearing out the cobwebs from his back catalogue and giving it a little bit of a makeover to fit in with the sound of his upcoming fourth album. Using Nile Rodgers and Prince as a touchstone, he promises things like joy and fun rather than his broody-songwriter shtick. LB

Sophie Coyle
Cobblestone, Dublin; 9pm; €10;
The Dundalk-based singer-songwriter Sophie Coyle has more than several strings to her bow: illustrator, designer, member of the feminist art-rock band The Periods, partner of the Louth mouth performer Jinx Lennon, mother, and purveyor of the kind of sparse gothic-tinged folk that would go down a treat if it were to soundtrack The Wicker Man. Coyle’s recently released debut album, Blame Me for the Storm, may show a quieter side than her work with The Periods, but it’s imbued with the same observational attention to detail. This is the first date of a nationwide tour that culminates with a headline gig on March 11th at Whelan’s in Dublin. TCL

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