Rock/Pop highlights of the week ending December 31st

Damien Dempsey – Attention Bébé Christmas Party – Mick Flannery – Jenny Greene – Fontaines DC – Fr Ted Day – Subject With Surgeon, New Jackson, Tr one and more – Aslan – Hudson Taylor – ASIWYFA – Overhead the Albatross – Something Happens


Saturday December 23


Vicar St Dublin 7.30pm €32.50

Dublin born and bred, the owner of a booming voice, a stout heart, and the presenter of everyday tales of everyday folk, Damien Dempsey is a welcome people’s poet. It is 20 years since the release of his song, Dublin Town; in the interim period, he has been championed by the likes of Sinead O’Connor and Morrissey, and has released a sequence of albums that has showcased his growing strengths as a songwriter. This year’s studio album, Soulsun, is the man’s best yet, mixing guitars with gut-instinct lyrics to suitably bracing effect. A pre-Christmas treat is in store. Tony Clayton-Lea

Whelan’s, Dublin  €10 adv / €12.50 door

Anyone who has stumbled upon Attention Bébé in the wee hours at Electric Picnic or Body & Soul knows that they are the ultimate party band. Just when you think you’ve no energy left, they lift you up. Not directly a covers band, they rework and upgrade 90s hits like Alice DeeJay’s Better Off Alone, Kernkraft 400’s Zombie Nation and Michael Jackson’s Earth Song – all solid classics – and with their dapper brass section adding in horns where you never thought possible, you’ll be bopping until you drop. Expect a few surprises on the night. They’ve been known to add in a pass the parcel round during a hectic trumpet solo. Discount tickets are available to buy for groups of five and over. Louise Bruton


Róisín Dubh Galway 8pm €26/€24

Also Thursday December 28 Dolan’s Limerick 8pm €25

There aren’t too many people whose songs are adjudged (by Tom Waits, no less) as being of good enough quality to win various categories in Nashville’s International Songwriting Competition. Not that Mick Flannery will broadcast this – the man is modesty personified, and much prefers to let his music speak for itself. Ten years from the release of his debut album, Evening Train, the music remains loud and clear. TCL

Landmark Hotel, Leitrim €23.25

Like the Bébés, Jenny Greene’s festival DJ sets – either with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra or on her tobler – have become a guaranteed stop-off for craic and dancing. The 2fm DJ is bringing her Electric Disco Tour to the Landmark Hotel’s Club 360 for the final party before everyone goes into hiding for two days, eating tubs of Roses in one go like it’s something they were born to do. Her set promises some of the best disco and dance hits that will get your heart pumping and your nostalgia levels going through the roof. Your hangovers the next morning will certainly promise a quiet Christmas Eve.  LB


The Workman’s Club Dublin 8pm €10

We first caught a glimpse of this Dublin band on last year’s Music Trail at Other Voices, and since then have been checking in regularly to see if such early potential has been realised. Cue two punk-influenced singles (Liberty Belle, Hurricane Laughter, each of which were honoured with the “Rough Trade Single of the Week” gong), some videos, and a sequence of live shows between Spain, London and home territory. A debut album is scheduled for next year, but why not hear some of it up close and eyeball-to-eyeball personal before then? TCL

Tuesday December 26
The Bernard Shaw, Dublin Free

What is now considered a treasured St Stephen’s Day event, Fr Ted Day in The Bernard Shaw is a long-standing tradition for those itching to leave their families after an intense 24 hours at home. If you want to partake in the Lovely Girls Competition, make sure your nicest dress is washed and ironed. If you intend to get lost down the tunnel of goats, make sure you leave a contact number for your next of kin. The Handsome Priest Competition is often fierce so pack your moustache comb.  Music will be provided by the Phases DJs on the night and there will be prizes doled out to the best dressed. Ah, go on. Go on, go on, go on. LB


In celebration of 10 years of the club night Subject, the crew are bringing a massive party back to its old home Wigwam, known then as Twisted Pepper. Taking over the three floors, Surgeon will be playing his first Dublin DJ set in a very long time and David Kitt will be doing a DJ set under the name of his electronic side project New Jackson. TR One, along with other guests yet to be announced, will also be whipping up a storm with their own DJ set. Set your settings to rager, as this Stephen’s Day sesh will be a big ‘un. LB

Wednesday December 27


Vicar St Dublin 7.30pm €37.50

Also Friday December 29/Saturday December 30, same venue

We really don’t know where Aslan get the energy from, but that’s where the mystery stops. A few glitches aside, this Dublin band has been a constant presence on the Irish music scene for well over 30 years, and that level of commercial appeal shows little sign of decreasing. Three shows here is testament to that, as is the recent announcement of their return next March for more major venue shows in Dublin. TCL


Róisín Dubh Galway 8pm €26/€24 Also Thursday, Hayes Hotel Thurles Co Tipperary 9pm

The heat is on for this music duo (brothers Alfie and Harry), as immediately after these Irish dates (not forgetting a support slot to Kodaline’s New Year’s Eve show in Dublin) they commence a UK and European tour. The reason for such a flurry of activity is the imminent release of new material, which arrives over two years after their debut album, Singing for Strangers. New songs Feel it Again and Run with Me were showcased, along with a few other tunes, at the recent Dingle-based Other Voices festival. Can’t make it to these? Not to worry – the brothers have just announced a nationwide Irish tour for March. TCL

Thursday December 28


Academy Dublin 7pm €22 Also Friday Garbo’s Castlebar, Co Mayo 8pm €18.50; Saturday December 30 Cyprus Avenue Cork 7.30pm €18.50; Sunday December 31 Róisín Dubh Galway 8pm €25

Here come the drums, here come the drums! Belfast’s ASIWYFA has proven beyond any doubt that they are the best around when it comes to combining propulsive post-punk power with elements of pre-punk, tricky-time-change prog rock. Even a tentative listen to recently released The Endless Shimmering detects elements of the music that punk rock threatened to destroy. Not that this matters – the way the musicians trace, join and interact with the forms is a joy. A loud joy, it has to be said, but a joy nonetheless. TCL


The Workman’s Club Dublin 8pm €18

Also Friday same venue (sold out)

The first announced gig for this excellent Irish instrumental band sold out within hours, so there is now an extra date. Expect the second show to sell out, too, as there are very few bands in the country that can pack as progressive and immersive an aural punch as this one. Currently working on music for the follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 debut, Learning to Growl, you can expect to experience music The Ticket has described as “an intuitive blend of psych-influenced rock and numerous staggering sonic declarations”. TCL

Friday December 29


Whelan’s Dublin 7.30pm €22

It is only around this time of year when the lesser spotted ‘80s Irish rock band makes itself known, and if there is a better one still in existence than Something Happens then we have yet to hear about it. With all four original members gainfully employed in various areas of radio, television and the music industry, we know these “getting together” gigs are undertaken for nothing other than pleasure and good fun. Factor in, however, a consignment of terrifically good pop/rock songs, and you have a bona fide pre New Year’s Eve blast.  Special guests are the equally fine if sorely under-the-radar Eileen Gogan & the Instructions. TCL

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