Pack your Picnic basket: the best rock and pop gigs this week
Simon Le Bon or Johnny Logan? Pet Shop Boys or Manfred’s men? It’s a nostalgia fest
Stradbally, Co Laois, Friday September 1st-Sunday September 3rd (sold out) ticketmaster.ie
As per usual, Electric Picnic is sold out, and as per usual it has more on-site stages than anyone surely has time to see. All we can hope for is that the weather holds up in order to allow people to negotiate the trek from stage to stage without needing to be rescued. Music-wise, there’s something for everyone in the audience – from The xx to Hudson Taylor, from London Grammar to Pete Tong, from Duran Duran to Perfume Genius. Sorted.
Vicar Street, Dublin, Friday September 1st & Saturday September 2nd, 8pm, €35 vicarstreet.ie
When J-Log tells you to hold him now, you hold him. You hold him tighter than you ever held anyone in your life and you never let him go. The man, the legend, the King of the Eurovision is packing up his almost 40 years of greatest hits and bringing them out on tour just so he can unleash them upon you, the deserving audience, like a flutter of delicate kisses. Reach out, for you may just catch one in your hands.
National Concert Hall, Dublin, Monday September 4th, Tuesday, September 5th & Wednesday, September 6th, 8pm, €39 (sold out) nch.ie
He’s back! Some months ago, David Gray undertook a brief nationwide tour that didn’t include any Dublin shows. He’s certainly making up for it this month with these three NCH shows. Arguably, it is when Gray performs acoustic that he is at his best – when he first arrived in Ireland in the early 1990s, armed with an acoustic guitar and a batch of bilious songs, it was almost frightening to see a musician so invested in his material that his anger spilled out for all to see. This is the first time he has played solo shows in Dublin since 1995, so no pressure, then, Mr Gray, no pressure at all.
Pet Shop Boys
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, Tuesday September 5 & Wednesday September 6th, 8pm, €59.50 bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
It is 36 years since Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe first teamed up, and the pair, admirably, still produce high-quality electro-pop. Ostensibly, these gigs are to plug recently released album reissues (including 2002’s Release and 2006’s Fundamental), but you can safely bet that over 30 years of music will be represented. Another safe bet? The stage show presentation will be smart, slick, witty and quietly, smoothly innovative. Just like the music, then.
Whelans Upstairs, Dublin, Tuesday September 5th, 8pm, €15 whelanslive.com
Owen isn’t yer man from down the road – it’s the solo effort of Mike Kinsella, singer with Illinois band American Football. The Chicago man is bringing his delicate serving of emo-indie music to the upstairs venue in Whelans for one night and one night only to promote his recent album The King of Whys. Let the gentle strumming of his guitar and the imploring lyrics wash upon you, either as you face your comedown from Electric Picnic or as a treat for fighting the festival FOMO.
Vicar St, Dublin, Wednesday September 6th, 7.30pm, €35.50 ticketmaster.ie Opera House, Cork, Thursday September 7th, 8pm €32 corkoperahouse.ie
Unusually for a 1960s pop group, Manfred Mann enjoyed two successful phases. Now amalgamated under the catch-all title of The Manfreds, the first iteration of the band (1964-1966) featured vocalist Paul Jones. From 1966-1969, the band’s lead singer was Mike d’Abo. In the space of five years, they clocked up 13 Top 10 hit singles (including Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James, Ha! Ha! Said the Clown, and My Name is Jack). In other words, there’s enough familiarity here to keep fans of 60s Brit pop very happy indeed.
Opera House, Cork, Wednesday September 6th, 8pm, €51.15 (sold out) corkoperahouse.ie
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, Thursday September 7th, 8pm, €53.50 bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
There has always been something wonderfully uncompromising about US singer Tori Amos. Straight from the start, on 1992’s Little Earthquakes, Amos told it like it is, regardless of response. She has forged a singular path ever since, and arrives in Dublin to promote her forthcoming album, Native Invader, which is partially influenced by US president Donald Trump and other equally unpredictable challenges. Knowing Amos the way we do, expect feathers to be ruffled and sparks to fly.
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Thursday September 7th & Friday September 8th, 8pm, €40.50 ticketmaster.ie
Whoever would have thought that Glasgow pop/soul band Texas would have enjoyed such longevity? Yet here they are, delivering the hits for which they are well known for (including I Don’t Want a Lover, Say What You Want, and Black Eyed Boy) as well as making people aware they’re still capable of releasing new material (Jump on Board, their ninth album) that makes an impression.
The Beat featuring Dave Wakeling
Whelans, Dublin, Thursday September 7th, 8pm, €22.90 whelanslive.com
Formed in Birmingham in 1978, The Beat lasted until the early 1980s, but in that short space of time, the band – an early signing to the famed UK ska label Two Tone – notched up several classic hit tunes of the genre. Songs such as Hands Off She’s Mine, Mirror in the Bathroom, Too Nice to Talk To and Stand Down Margaret added Jamaican flavours to a uniquely British lyrical viewpoint. Fans of quality ska/reggae – your pork pie hats are waiting.