Out and About: Kicking off the New Year
Something for everyone from Bowie to Talking Heads and District 8
Dublin Bowie Festival
Saturday, January 5th
Out to Lunch Festival
Various venues/times ticket prices at cqaf.com
Once again, Belfast’s Out to Lunch Festival positions itself as the first major arts event of the year with a programme that is both diverse and imaginative.
Today sees performances (at Black Box venue) from The Henry Girls (1.30pm £10), King Kong Company (8.45pm £16). Widening out the music remit with music documentaries (also showing at Black Box) there is a screening of Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story (tomorrow, Sunday, 1.45pm £5), and Rudeboy: the Story of Trojan Records (Friday, 7.15pm £12), which will be followed by a DJ set from acclaimed documentarian/DJ/BBC 6Music presenter, Don Letts.
London Astrobeat Orchestra Play Talking Heads
Button Factory, Dublin, €20, buttonfactory.ie
Anytime the Lighthouse cinema screens Talking Heads’s Stop Making Sense concert film, it sells out ridiculously quickly. Whenever David Byrne plays a concert in Ireland, it also sells out ridiculously quickly.
So if you’ve missed the boat with everything and anything Talking Heads in recent history, you can try and make up for it with the London Astrobeat Orchestra’s take on music from the 1984 film.
Even though they don’t keep as straight a face as Mr. Byrne when they’re in performance mode, it’s a great tribute to the cult classic and if you’ve spent most of the new year so far locked inside, this might be a nice gentle way to ease yourself back into reality.
District 8, Dublin, €15-25 district8dublin.com
With the Tivoli’s demolition date so near in sight, every gig that District 8 from here on out will be fairly special. After spending most of last year touring across Europe and Asia and playing festivals like Longitude and Life last summer, this Dublin date will be his final gig in the Tivoli before the venue is knocked down and turned into a five-storey, 289-bed aparthotel.
The house DJ from Dublin has played a number of sets in this venue over the years so there will a slight tint of nostalgia to this night for him and for District 8 regulars. This gig is sold out but if you sniff around the event page on Facebook, you might come across some tickets for sale. Support on the night comes from the Donegal DJ Mark Laird.
Sunday, January 6th
Cate Le Bon
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, €22 paviliontheatre.ie
Adding to the number of innovative musician and songwriters from Wales, Cate Le Bon has been around for over a dozen years, first emerging as a voice to be reckoned with in 2007, when she was the special guest on Gruff Rhys’s solo UK tour.
Further alliances with Welsh acts Neon Neon (a side project of Rhys’s), Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and Manic Street Preachers ran in parallel with a solo career that started in 2009 with the release of her debut album, Me Oh My.
Currently working on her fifth solo album (although casual fans would be well advised to search out last year’s side project, Drinks, and their album Hippo Lite), this show is certainly the first singular gig of the year, as Le Bon, up-close-and-personal, performs her songs with just a piano.
Monday, January 7th
Dublin Bowie Festival
Various venues/days/times/ticket prices dublinbowiefestival.ie
This festival is increasing in its reach as each year passes, and we know why: it isn’t just a celebration of David Bowie’s music, it is also an acknowledgement of his contribution to contemporary culture, from art, design and literature to photography and cinema, and more besides.
There are too many events to mention here but highlights include Space Oddity & Other Songs from the Bowie Universe (National Concert Hall, Monday, January 7th), and Bowie by Duffy (a photographic exhibition by Brian Duffy, who conceived and shot covers for Aladdin Sane, among other Bowie albums, Ebow Gallery, January 9th-13th).
Tuesday, January 8th
Vicar St, Dublin, €47.50 ticketmaster.ie
Second date: Wednesday, January 9th
Christy Moore will reach the age of 74 next year, but he shows little sign of paying attention to the passing of time and more to how many gigs he can fit into any given month.
By this point, of course, Moore can do anything he wants to, and perform any amount of diverse material from a back catalogue that stretches back to his debut album, Paddy on the Road, which was released 50 years ago.
Having long been (correctly) viewed as a national treasure, Moore could stuff this venue – his favoured one when he performs in Dublin – night after night, which makes his gigs here all the more intimate and personal.
He also performs there on Monday, January 14th and Tuesday, 15th.
Wednesday, January 9th
A Bowie Celebration
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, €73.50/€44.85/€40.45 ticketmaster.ie
As a card-carrying David Bowie fan, we’re not too sure about this – a tribute act consisting of former members of Bowie’s various bands. Admittedly, the pedigree of some can’t be faulted: Mike Garson, the pianist that first came to our attention via his amazing work on Aladdin Sane; Earl Slick, the guitarist who worked on albums such as Diamond Dogs and Young Americans; Gerry Leonard, the Dubliner who was Bowie’s bandleader and guitarist in the last decade or so of his life; Carmine Rojas, the bass player who toured with Bowie in the ‘80s.
Vocalists include Bernard Fowler, Joe Sumner, Corey Glover (formerly of Living Colour), and Lee John (son of Earl Slick). Expect a guest singer or two and a set list that will feature (we are informed) “an ever-rotating mix of Bowie hits and deep cuts.” Doubtful? Actor Evan Rachel Woods (who has performed on a few Bowie songs with these musicians) loves them, and that’s fine by us.
Grand Social, Dublin aikenpromotions.com
Other dates: Thursday, January 10th, Black Box, Belfast, £12 cqaf.com; Friday, January 11th, The Stables, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, €22.20/€16.87
Some singer-songwriters disappear after major label support has been withdrawn. Others – like Ivor Novello Award-winning UK songwriter Scott Matthews – decide to carry on, denying themselves, perhaps, a safety net but committed nonetheless to their self-expression through song.
His most recent album, last year’s The Great Untold, proved his instincts right, with a collection of mostly acoustic songs that bear graceful hints of Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, John Martyn, and Paul Simon.
A rare visitor to Ireland, you are advised to make a beeline to these intimate shows.
Thursday, January 10th
3Arena, Dublin, €41.05 ticketmaster.ie
The 1975 have a a real knack from coming up with distinctly wordy album titles. They played it cool with their debut 2013 album and just went with The 1975 but they decided to go all out with their 2016 release; I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. A mouthful.
Learning from that, their 2018 album toned down in the title department, going for A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, but where they toned down in the name, they made up for with the content. An album full of meandering and thoughtful songs, the Mancunian band ponder the meaning of life so eloquently and so honestly that this show is set to be quite spectacular.
If you’ve never given them a go, to paraphrase one of their latest songs, they’d Love It If We Made It.
Friday, January 11th
First Fortnight festival
Various venues/times/ticket prices firstfortnight.ie
This year’s iteration of First Fortnight festival is a unique one in that it is hosting the European Mental Health Art & Culture Festival. There are a huge number of highlights nationwide, but one of the best events scheduled is for today - Therapy Sessions.
Curated by Stephen James Smith and Saint Sister, the music section of the line-up includes Rachel Lavelle, and David Tapley (from Tandem Felix).
The spoken word segment includes Scottish poet Kevin P. Gilday, UK poet Salena Godden, and Irish writer (“opinionated scamp” as her Twitter bio has it) Saoirse Anton.