Niall Horan, Rejjie Snow, CupcakKe, Stereophonics: the best rock and pop this week

Also coming this way: Death From Above, Damien Jurado and Spook of the Thirteenth Lock

Niall Horan: First big Irish tour. Not his last

Niall Horan: First big Irish tour. Not his last

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Daniel Avery
Tivoli, Dublin, Saturday March 10th, €16.50 district8dublin.com

Techno DJ Daniel Avery is making quite a habit of visiting Dublin and, with his second album, Song for Alpha (the follow-up to 2013’s Drone Logic), coming out in April, this Tivoli gig will be a great way to wet the head of his new music. “Drone Logic’s spiritual home was the dancefloor,” he told Resident Advisor. “This record’s is definitely the road. Those late nights and hazy mornings, finding inspiration beyond the fog.” Yes. Let’s lift that fog.

Niall Horan
INEC Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry, Saturday March 10th, 7pm ticketmaster.ie

3Arena, Dublin, Monday March 12th, 6.30pm ticketmaster.ie

SSE Arena, Belfast, Tuesday March 13th, 6.30pm ticketmaster.ie

Following the massive success of his debut album, Flicker, Niall Horan’s first Irish tour as a solo act is now entirely sold out. Kicking off in Killarney’s INEC,  the tour sees him taking on Dublin’s 3Arena, Belfast’s The SSE Arena and Dublin’s 3Arena again on Thursday March 29th. He’s all go. Support for each of the shows comes in the shape of the incredible Julia Michaels, who’s written massive songs for Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Selena Gomez, so get there nice and early.

Tebi Rex
Workmans Club, Dublin, Saturday March 10th, €11.75 + booking fee ticketmaster.ie

Maynooth hip-hop duo – bet that’s a phrase you’ve never read before – Tebi Rex are an act you should keep your eye on. With songs like Men Are Trash and She Hated Love Songs II (a collaboration with Elkin) Matt O’ Baoill and Max Zanga remain darkly witty while creating lo-fi, hip-hop songs with a pop hook. Get to know the lads a bit better on their Welcome to the Darkest Year of our Adventures EP.

Michael McDonald
Vicar St, Dublin, Sunday March 11th, 7.30pm €55 ticketmaster.ie

With a career spanning almost 50 years, St Louis, Missouri musician, vocalist and songwriter Michael McDonald has seen them come and go, yet still he’s around to dip into the back catalogues of his various former bands (including Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers). He will also include songs from his nine solo albums, the latest of which is last year’s Wide Open. Whether or not fans of Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) will rock up to the venue remains to be seen – the Grammy-winning, multi-genre bass player, celebrated for his work with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, has made it known how much McDonald’s work means to him. An all-ages show, then?

Damien Jurado
Whelans, Dublin, Sunday March 11th, 8pm €22 whelanslive.com

Damian Jurado
Damian Jurado

Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has excelled at quite a few stylistic changes in his 20-plus year career. From yearning lo-fi folk/roots (1999’s Rehearsals for Departure) and sprightly indie-pop (2002’s I Break Chairs) to ballad-strewn tunes (2008’s Caught in the Trees) and conceptual indie-folk (2016’s Visions of Us on the Land), Jurado has deftly explored each area in observant, literate fashion. If you’re into singer-songwriter material that has classic reference points (Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Randy Newman, Neil Young) yet is also tricky enough to categorise, then Mr Jurado would very much like to see you.

CupcakKe
The Button Factory, Dublin, Sunday March 11th, €18.50 + booking fee servingentertainment.com

CupcakKe
CupcakKe

Chicago rapper Elizabeth Harris, aka CupcakKe, makes her long-awaited Irish debut as part of her Ephorize tour. Fast, furious, ferocious and with zero filter, she pushes boundaries with her music, tackling social issues and her sexuality with a blunt and thrilling honesty. Not for the faint of heart. Check out her track Duck Duck Goose to see if you pass the test.

Rejjie Snow
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Monday March 12th, 7pm, €22 ticketmaster.ie

Rejjie Snow: Homecoming gig for the Irish rapper. Photograph: C Brandon/Redferns
Rejjie Snow: Homecoming gig for the Irish rapper. Photograph: C Brandon/Redferns

The time has finally arrived for Rejjie Snow to stand up and be counted as one of the most exciting and original voices in Irish hip-hop. With the release of his debut album, Dear Annie, Snow (real name Alex Anyaegbunam) has come of age at the point where Irish hip-hop is experiencing a sequence of glorious moments, despite his recent admission (on brightonsfinest.com) that “being Irish . . . [hip-hop] isn’t the most marketable thing ever”. This aside, Snow is making serious inroads internationally, especially in America, where, as the only Irish act signed to New York-based 300 Entertainment, he is mixing it up with (other) acclaimed music acts, many of which have a broader fan base. Long story short? A hometown guy, a homecoming gig. Let’s celebrate that.

Keep Shelly in Athens
Grand Social, Dublin, Wednesday March 14th, 7pm, €18 thegrandsocial.ie

It isn’t often you hear of a music act from Greece making some noise outside the country, but Keep Shelley in Athens (a pun on the neighbourhood of Athens the band originated from – Kypseli) has achieved what many would have considered most unlikely. Revolving around the songwriting skills of the mysterious man known only as RPR, KSIA originally had singer/lyricist Sarah Psalti in the ranks, but when she left four years ago, her place was taken by Australian writer/poet Jessica Bell. The music remains in a similar terrain (dreamy chillwave), so stay calm and carry on.

Stimming X Lambert
Sugar Club, Dublin, Wednesday March 14th, €13.80-€24.45 homebeat.eventbrite.ie 

Fresh off the release of their collaborative album Exodus (released on March 9th by new label Kryptox), Stimming, the emotive and innovative electronic producer, and Lambert, the masked pianist, will not just be making their Irish debut as a live act in the Sugar Club, but also their world debut. This is set to be a very special gig, combining the unique and beautiful qualities of the two German performers and amplifying them.

Death From Above
Tivoli, Dublin, Wednesday March 14th, €33.50 ticketmaster.ie

It’s been three years since Death From Above’s last Dublin appearance and all those who attended have just about recovered. Dropping the 1979 from their name, the noise lords are back. Despite a 2004 cease-and-desist letter from James Murphy’s record label of the same name when they released their debut album, the Torontonian two-piece have been numberless since 2016 and, with no apparent legal issues from Murphy, Death from Above the band name lives on.

Paul McLoone Show on Tour
Róisín Dubh, Galway, Thursday March 15th, 8pm, Adm free (tickets required - from eventbrite.ie) roisindubh.net

Paul McLoone
Paul McLoone

With a debonair swish of the microphone cable and some choice witticisms, Today FM presenter Paul McLoone takes his show on a road trip over the next few months, broadcasting live from various venues. The first stop is Galway, where music acts David Keenan, Slow Riot and Freezer Room (which includes guest vocals from Wallis Bird, Tracy K, and Jack O’Rourke) will be putting on a grand display of their talents. McLoone then takes his roadshow to Connolly’s of Leap, Co Cork (April 26th) and the Workman’s Club, Dublin (May 23rd), music acts tbc. All aboard!

Stereophonics
SSE Arena, Belfast, Thursday March 15th, 8pm, £41.50 ssearenabelfast.com

3Arena, Dublin, Friday March 16th, 8pm, €46 ticketmaster.ie

Stereophonics
Stereophonics

Another anniversary, another brace of arena-sized shows. This time it’s Stereophonics, the Welsh band that celebrates the 20th birthday year of its debut album, Word Gets Around. That album set up Stereophonics as a lean, bluster-free act, and for a while, that’s exactly what they delivered. The band’s middle years saw the music gain weight, which hardly gained them new fans, but, judging by these two shows, lessons have been learned. Last year’s album, Scream Above the Sounds, will be plugged, of course, as well as their sizeable back catalogue. One for the fans.

Jonathan Wilson
Whelan’s, Dublin, Thursday March 15th, 8pm, €18.50 whelanslive.com

With a new and much-praised album, Rare Birds (“In the best way, this sounds like a record you could lose yourself in for months” – Mojo), North Carolina singer-songwriter Jonathan Wilson might come across to some as yet another flavour-of-the-month songsmith with a preference for Laurel Canyon stylings. The somewhat more prosaic truth is that Wilson is as much in demand for his songwriting as he is for his production (for the likes of Father John Misty, Conor Oberst and Roy Harper) and collaborative work (he is currently musical director of Roger Waters’ Us + Them tour, which visits Dublin June 26th and 27th). Here, though, is Wilson without any kind of safety net: no special effects, no heritage songs, just adroit, measured craftsmanship.

Karl Blau
The Workmans Club, Dublin, Thursday March 15th, 8pm, €15 theworkmansclub.com

To indie rock and folk, you can add drone, bossa nova, dub, hip-hop, grunge and found sound. No one can accuse American songwriter Karl Blau of sticking to the tried and tested. The man is also an avid fan of engaging with the community as well as embracing the “moment”. To this end, he has said that when he’s recording music, any outside interruptions are not only welcome but become part of the end result; even mistunings are kept in. A songwriter that resists as well as challenges tradition? Yours for the asking.

Spook of the Thirteenth Lock
Pepper Canister Church, Dublin, Friday March 16th, 7.30pm, €13.50 peppercanister.ie

Spook of the Thirteenth Lock
Spook of the Thirteenth Lock

Forever destined, it seems, to be always a fringe attraction (despite having released in 2008 one of the best Irish albums of the past 40 years – their self-titled debut), Spook of the Thirteenth Lock may be too easily referenced as an “experimental” folk-rock band, but they are so much more than that. For their forthcoming third album, Lockout, they have added guitars to the line-up – almost 20 to be precise. Tipping the hat to American avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, whose 13th Symphony for 100 Electric Guitars is surely a template, but looking towards Irish history (notably the 1913 Dublin lockout), expect this gig to fuse various sonic shapes in bravura style. The concert is part of the St Patrick’s Festival.

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