The best rock and pop concerts in Ireland this week

Hozier, Primal Scream and Villagers performing around the country

Saturday, December 7th

Curry & Hip-hop with Tara Stewart and Mango
The Bernard Shaw, Dublin;

Sinking into its new home in Phibsborough, the Bernard Shaw events guide has had a makeover too. This is Ireland's first hip-hop and curry night. Brought to you by the power couple that is Mango of Mango X Mathman, who should be called Mango chutney for the night, and 2FM's Tara Stewart. So munch on a korma from the Shaw's new and improved food menu and bopping away to the finest hip-hop tracks from 10pm until closing time. LB

Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co Wicklow; also Friday 13th/Saturday 14th, Whelan's, Dublin

Has it been a quiet year for HamsandwicH? We'll hazard a guess that it has been, but with new material on the way we can certify that their live performances haven't shifted one iota off from being as celebratory as they have always been. The new material will settle in nicely with selected tracks from their three studio albums (2008's Carry the Meek, 2010's White Fox, 2015's Stories from the Surface), while you can be assured you'll hear a well-chosen cover version or two to bring these festive shows even more to life. TCL

Monday, December 9th

Primal Scream
Olympia Theatre, Dublin; also Tuesday 10th, Ulster Hall, Belfast (sold out)

Primal Scream's frontman Bobby Gillespie (58 next year) has been throwing shapes as a singer since 1978, at that time in a Glaswegian punk band called The Drains. After a spell as the drummer with Jesus & Mary Chain, Gillespie threw himself full-time into Primal Scream, and by the late 1980s had embraced the acid house scene. Within a few years, the band's third album, Screamadelica, brought them into the mainstream, where they have, more or less, continued to hang around. As a creative force, Primal Scream have always been a flawed if occasionally glorious proposition. As a live act, they remain rooted in the latter, assisted by a very decent "Best Of" back catalogue and a frontman who is still as thin and brisk and energetic as a whippet. TCL


Tuesday, December 10th

3Arena, Dublin; also Wednesday 11th, same venue

It has been quite the year for Hozier – the release of a very good second album (Wasteland, Baby!), a slew of open-air summer shows in Ireland, a recent residency in New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, and new material in the shape of the recently released Jackboot Jump, written whilst on tour as a tribute to protest singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. More new songs have been flagged for release in early 2020, so it would be safe to say the Wicklow man's shows here will be an astute blend of trusted highlights and an unfamiliar tune or two. Special guest for these two shows is UK singer Freya Ridings. Tonight's show is sold out, while there are some tickets left for Wednesday. Better nab 'em quick, though. TCL

Cyprus Avenue, Cork; also Wednesday 11th, same venue; Friday 13th/Saturday 14th, Vicar Street, Dublin

Ending 2019 with a sequence of shows is a fitting cherry-on-the-top for Conor O'Brien, the man behind (and in front of) this most naturally evolving of Irish groups. Since their formation in 2008, Villagers have released four studio albums, each of which have showcased O'Brien's mounting gifts as a songwriter. The latest album, 2018's The Art of Pretending to Swim, is a smart departure from previous material without any loss of touch. Similarly, the recently released Sunday Walker EP, featuring songs discovered, jokes O'Brien, down the back of an armchair. Further new material will surely be issued in 2020, but in the meantime, there are these pre-Christmas shows. Special guest is Conchúr White. Both Dublin shows are sold out. TCL

TiLT #3
Button Factory, Dublin

TiLT (Totally Irish Live Tuesdays) is a recently inaugurated monthly showcase presented in association with Dublin's Sound Training College and radio station 98FM's Totally Irish show. As hosted by John Barker – who next month celebrates 10 years of presenting the exclusively Irish music programme – the gigs highlight a mixture of relatively established and emerging acts. Tonight's show features music from CC Brez, Stomptown Brass, Abbacaxi, and Bajjna – that's most points in between soul, funk, techno/house and reggae. Admission is free – just bring along the good vibes and you'll be fine. TCL 

Thursday, December 12th

A House Is Dead – Redux
Vicar Street, Dublin

Earlier this year, Dublin band A House (or rather A House Is Dead, a spikier version featuring two of the original members, Dave Couse and Fergal Bunbury) were presented with the NCH/IMRO Trailblazer Award for their 1991 album, I Am the Greatest. Like previous inaugural recipients Microdisney, further shows were expected and shouted for, yet – also like Microdisney – you can expect this particular gig to be the final word. You can also anticipate a fierce and fractious end, with a similar reinterpretation of I Am the Greatest along with other songs that Couse and Bunbury hold dear to their hearts. Farewell, A House, or whatever you want to call yourselves – it has been very, very good to have known you. TCL

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations
Grand Social, Dublin; also Friday 13th, Dolan's Upstairs, Limerick; Saturday 14th, Limelight 2, Belfast

Any mention of retro-soul these days and you automatically think of US music acts digging into their country's enviable musical past. You tend not to think of the UK, yet Bristol-based Hannah Williams & the Affirmations seem to have skewed perceptions somewhat. They have also captivated certain people – people that have given a nod to Williams's impressive vocal talents. Step forward Jay-Z, who sampled a vocal line from The Affirmations' song Late Nights & Heartbreaks. Such attention has raised the profile of this surging soul band – see and hear what all the fuss is about on their brief (three-date) tour. TCL

Cursed Murphy versus the Resistance  
Sky & Ground, Wexford

Currently, the creative guise of County Wexford writer and broadcaster Peter Murphy (a regular contributor to these pages), Cursed Murphy versus the Resistance provides neither rest nor peace for the wicked. Via two recently released single tracks – last year's Foxhole Prayer and this year's The Bells of Hell – Murphy delivers caustic spoken word with a background of rock-solid guitar riffs and (as the two song titles reference) militaristic beats. Be advised that an album's worth of material will be released next year. (There is no admission fee here, but an honour entry system will be gently applied, with €5 a suggested amount.) TCL

Future Proof: Autre Monde, Elaine Mai, Sans Chatea
Bello Bar, Dublin

Continuing to shine a light on current and interesting music at home and abroad, the 16th edition of Future Proof is a real treat. Featuring Dublin art-rock band Autre Monde, you can hear songs from their upcoming debut album The Imaginary Museum and you can dive into the lush electronic stylings of the wonderful Galway legend Elaine Mai and the chamber-folk maestro that is Austin Moore's Sans Chateaux. Tickets are €10/€13 online and €15 on the door. LB

Lethal Dialect
Róisín Dubh, Galway

Tying up a busy year, Dublin rapper and actor Paul Alwright, better known as Lethal Dialect, is playing one of his last shows of the year in Galway. Having released his critically-acclaimed album Hunger as Paul Alwright earlier this year, he is now working the third instalment of his LD50 album series. One of the leading names in the Irish hip-hop community, he continues to find the words, the fury and the grá that goes with living in Dublin. Costello and DJ Scorpio are listed as support. LB

Junior Brother
Whelan's, Dublin

Another top Irish act from 2019 is Kerry man Ronan Kealy, whose solo act Junior Brother has delighted music lovers, reviewers and festival goers across the country. His debut album Pull the Right Rope was released on the Galway label Strange Brew and he also appeared on Bath Time, the stunning debut from Maija Sofia. A precise musician and an enthralling live act, he's given us a lot this year so now it's your turn to give back. See him, stream him and adore him. LB

Friday, December 13th

Button Factory, Dublin

Another Irish band that can safely say they've had a good year is north County Dublin's Fangclub. Earlier this year, the trio released their second album, Vulture Culture ("a record that lies on a knife-edge between tense serenity and all-out frustration, constantly transmitting overtones of disconnection, angst and fury", noted Irish music blog, The Last Mixed Tape), and have since spread the nitty-gritty word far and wide via a series of live shows that fair take the wind out of the sails with ferocity and focus. You can bet your last bitcoin that this show will be cut from the same cloth. TCL

Sunday, December 15th

The Drag Nativity
Drop Dead Twice, Dublin

Featuring an all-star cast of drag, comedy and music, The Drag Nativity is a retelling of the story we all played out so well in primary school... but with a queer twist. Among other things, expect Baby Borns, tinfoil stars, pushy parents and lots of singing, all told through the magic of drag. The cast includes Tony Cantwell, Liam Nugent, Marian Mary the 6th and Coco Chanel No. 5. This is a musical parody written and produced by the always fabulous Avoca Reaction. LB

Soda Blonde
Whelan's, Dublin, also Monday 16th at Whelan's, Dublin

Going for a double whammy of Christmas gigs, Soda Blonde are wrapping up their 2019 in festive fashion. Made up of former Little Green Cars members Faye O'Rourke, Adam O'Regan, Donagh Seaver O'Leary and Dylan Lynch, these are the last nights of their Terrible Hands tour, which saw them play across Ireland and the UK. The Dublin alt-pop group announced the second date due to popular demand, which is a sure sign of what lies ahead of them for 2020. LB