Take me to Hozier: it’s the full Irish for this week’s best rock and pop gigs

Also: The Academic, Blades, Glen Hansard, Síomha, Ash, Fontaines DC and I Draw Slow



Olympia Theatre Dublin 7pm €34.50 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie; also Sunday/Monday, same venue; Wednesday, Ulster Hall Belfast 8pm £30 (sold out) ulsterhall.co.uk; Thursday, INEC, Killarney Co Kerry 8pm €34.50 (sold out) inec.ie
You can sense that things are ramping up for Andrew Hozier-Byrne, the quiet-spoken musician from Co Wicklow. A few months ago, he played a series of intimate shows at Dublin's Academy, yet these, too, are also small by comparison with the shows he will inevitably be playing in Ireland next year. With a new album on the way in the first half of 2019, expect these sold-out gigs to respect his debut album while also marking the appearance of new songs. Old, new, borrowed, blue – the man (the very tall man) is a class act, but whether the new tunes will snag the attention as much as the old ones remain to be seen. TCL

Vicar St Dublin 7.30pm €25 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie Also Sunday, same venue (sold out)
This year started with a nice big bang for this Westmeath band, whose debut, Tales from the Backseat, outlined perhaps typical first album concerns about growing up, falling in lust, and fumbling around with the object of your desire in the back seats of cars. With a highly attuned pop sensibility, as well as a smart approach to visuals (as their Bear Claws - Live Looper Version video proves), The Academic conclude 2018 with two well-deserved sold-out gigs. Next year? Bigger, bolder, better, we are in no doubt. For now, however, see them up close and personal in a venue they call their spiritual home. TCL

HUNEE AT DISCOTEKKEN The Button Factory, Dublin €11.62 -€25.55 buttonfactory.ie
The Berlin-based DJ Hunee claims to take inspiration from folk who "live it to the max, to the bone" so it's a perfect pairing for him to join the Discotekken crew for this night as that's exactly how they live. With his diverse taste in music, you will find yourself bopping away to disco classics, unknown tunes from afar and old school Italo disco songs. Discotekken's own Papa Lou will also be spinning tunes on the night. LB

Academy Dublin 8pm €30 ticketmaster.ie
Of course, age shall not wither them, and that's partly because whenever you hear a Blades song on the radio – or anywhere else for that matter – its quality is still second to none. Nostalgia be damned – the likes of Hot For You, Downmarket, The Bride Wore White, and a few more besides, continue to bear all the hallmarks of classic pop songs. Latterly, as fans are only too aware, the Dublin veterans have released new music, some of which is as good as any from their 1980s glory days. Not just resting on their laurels, then? We like that. TCL


The Bernard Shaw, Dublin Adm free thebernardshaw.com
Every Sunday in the Shaw, Mercy & Salvation have thrown Salvation Sundays, playing their favourite reggae, dancehall and dub music as a rescue remedy for anyone that went hard on Saturday night. For their final Salvation Sunday of the year, they're throwing a Christmas party and they'll be taking turns all night playing roots and dancehall songs, with some added Christmas reggae songs, because why the hell not? Christmas reggae happens but once a year after all. LB


The Sound House, Eden Quay, Dublin 1 7.30pm €15 thewileyfox.ie/thesoundhouse
There is no doubt that Irish urban music is experiencing an upswing in popularity and awareness, but it isn't just R&B, rap, and hip-hop that is fast becoming the music of choice for many people, it is also the suppliers of spoken word, hip-hop's somewhat more subtle cousin. Presented by Word Up, this particular Christmas Miracle features a mix of wordsmiths and vibe merchants, including SuperSilly, Jyellowl, Sequence, Felispeaks, Natalya O'Flaherty, Max Zanga (one half of noted hip-hop outfit Tebi Rex), Local Boy, and Sick Nanley. TCL

Vicar St Dublin 7.30pm €35 ticketmaster.ie; also Thursday, same venue
December shows by Glen Hansard at Dublin's Vicar Street are as dependable as Christmas itself, and by this stage the songwriter has surely earned his status as National Treasure. Now in his late 40s, Hansard has a wealth of a back catalogue to choose songs from, and his shows reflect that. From solo work to collaborative (The Swell Season) to songs from the band that started it all for him (The Frames), these gigs are, by reputation alone, the best of the month, if not the year. TCL

Monroe's, Galway €12 monroes.ie
Sewing strings of folk, jazz and neo-soul together, Irish singer and guitarist Síomha is embarking on a mini tour across Ireland. With gigs in Dublin, Westmeath and Cork already ticket off her list, she's playing Belfast's Cultúrlann Mcadam Ó Fiaich on December 15th, Galway on December 19th and wrapping up in Dolan's in Limerick on December 20th. If you need any convincing, Vulfpeck's Joe Dart says that her music "transcends boundaries in a way I've never heard". So there you have it. LB

Academy Dublin 8pm €27 ticketmaster.ie
Let's hear it for the fortysomethings who started off in a band as teenagers and who have, 25 years later, still got the presence of mind (as well as the songwriting skills) to release albums as good as 2015's Kablammo! and this year's Islands. While the latest record veers off the beaten track a bit to good effect, in a live setting Ash still stick to the blueprint of matching honed pop music with a punk-rock push and shove and a flurry of V-shaped guitars in evergreen songs such as Burn Baby Burn, Oh Yeah and Shining Light. TCL


Dolan's Warehouse Limerick 8pm €27 dolans.ie
In the final months of 2004, Irish singer-songwriter Declan O'Rourke released his debut album, Since Kyabram (the title of which referred to a past life living in Australia, and his initial interest in music). The album, and some of its songs, notably Galileo (Someone Like You), became so popular that O'Rourke began to distance himself from it, validly arguing that he had other albums and song just as good. Most artists, however, bow to the pressures of acknowledging anniversaries, and so with the official re-release of Since Kyabram (now on vinyl for the first time, and with a repackaged CD version) signalling its imminent 15th birthday, O'Rourke has been undertaking shows nationwide. Grab a ticket, is our advice. Also Saturday, December 22nd, St Iberius Church, Wexford, and Saturday, December 29th, Spirit Store, Dundalk, Co Louth. TCL


Button Factory Dublin 7.30pm €15/€12.50 (sold out) buttonfactory.ie
It isn't an understatement to say that Dublin band Fontaines DC reach the end of 2018 in a much stronger position than they were in 12 months ago. Indeed, they have had such a great year, and their reach has spread so far, that they are now viewed by various publications as the figureheads of New Irish Punk (or whatever it is NME calls it these days). Whatever about that – and you can be sure the band view such comments with a thick slice of cynicism – there's little doubt this gig is not only a homecoming but also a celebration of their hard work. What's next? American tour dates with UK band Idles in 2019. In other words, you won't be seeing them until the sun starts to shine and warm the bones. TCL

The Taproom at Drop Dead Twice, Dublin 8pm €8 dropdeadtwice.com
One of the final Dublin city gigs to take place before the Big Day is this three-for-one show, featuring a variety of musicians and bands you should grab an earful of. Acts include Fonda, a Limerick garage rock band fronted by ex-Slow Riot guitarist,  Liam O'Connor; Badhands, a solo outing from Daniel Fitzpatrick (who some might recall was a member of The Mighty Stef); and Shrug Life, a smart indie-pop unit fronted by Danny Carroll. Special guests include Naoise Roo and more to be announced. TCL

The Grand Social, Dublin €15 thegrandsocial.ie
Other than bemoaning the dark or somehow winning the lottery to watch the light enter the passage tomb at Newgrange, it's not often that the opportunity to celebrate the Winter Solstice arises but I Draw Slow is doing just that. The Dublin five-piece will help shed some light on this dour day with their soft blend of Americana and roots music. This is their last scheduled gig of the year so they'll be giving it some extra Christmas cheer. LB

The Sugar Club, Dublin €10 thesugarclub.com
If 1990s megamixes reworked and improved with some brass, then join the Bébés for their annual Christmas party. As they bash out mash ups of songs such as Zombie Nation, All I Want for Christmas Is You and Better Off Alone, games of pass the parcel will work their way through the crowd, along with the matchmaking mistletoe stick. They will be joined by some special guests and DJs who will play until closing time. LB

Tengu, Dublin €9.24-€13.56 elemedistortion.eventbrite.ie
'Twas the weekend before Christmas, when all through the country, everyone was stirring… because those who live abroad have come home for a quick blast of friends, family, presents and parties. With hip-hop, house, disco, breakbeat music and other unusual but whopper tunes, the Emigrant Disco is built for reunions and good times. Taking over Tengu's three rooms, Pap Lou, Brién, JOMA, Breen Engraft and many more will be in charge of the music. LB