The best rock and pop this week: Judy Collins, Lau, Moon Duo and Tradfest

Public Service Broadcasting, BIMM Battle of the Bands and Cloud Castle Lake among this week’s highlights


isín Dubh, Galway, Saturday January 20th, €10

U.M.A.N, which stands for U Must Act Now, is the alias of soul singer Brian Flanagan. The Mayo man has dabbled in folk music, collaborating with the American blues singer Eric Bibb – and he also wrote Síle Seoige's 2014 charity single Maybe This Christmas, which featured vocals from Mary Black, Róisín O, Brian Kennedy and Jack L. His latest single, Flamin' Day, is a little slice of Hozier-style soul, and this gig could be the start of an exciting year for him. LB

Cloud Castle Lake


Bello Bar, Dublin, Saturday January 20th, €14.20

Cloud Castle Lake are known for setting quite an ambient tone with their gentle lashings of jazz and electronica and singer Dan McAuley's elastic pitch, so get ready to swoon. Before the Dublin four-piece pack their bags and head out on their upcoming US tour, they will say their sayonaras in Bello Bar, so it would be terribly rude of you not to pop in for a slow bop, a shoe gaze or just a simple TTFN. LB


The Bowery, Dublin, Saturday January 20th, €5 the

Clandestinos do not travel lightly. The seven-piece band pack with them their own brass section to help bring the ska, reggae and Latin songs that they love to life. The Galway group fuses elements of punk, Jamaican reggae, British ska scene and the Latin persuasions of Manu Chao and Buena Vista Social Club, resulting in a modern take on old favourites. Dancing is a requirement at their gigs so don't let them down by leaning against the bar. Get in or get out. LB

Helena Hauff & DeFeKT

District 8, Dublin, Saturday January 20th, €13.25-€19.89

It's been relatively quiet on the club front so far this January, but Helena Hauff and DeFeKT are going to change that. Thank god. It was far too quiet. German DJ and producer Hauff's minimalistic beats and Dubliner DeFeKT's techno explorations will instantly get your body moving, which will assist with your "New Year, New Me" goals to get fit. Dry January, however, might have to be sacrificed once you enter the building. But it will be worth it. LB

Marc Ribot

DeBarras, Clonakilty, Co Cork, Sunday January 21st, 8pm, €25

Back in 2015, the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival hosted a gig by Marc Ribot, the guitar head honcho/collaborator with Tom Waits. Since then, Ribot has become something of an emblem for the festival, as well as a good friend of Clonakilty. Most guitarists of Ribot's vintage (he is in his early 60s) tend to have a certain style or schtick, but the New Jersey-born musician isn't one of these. Rather, his work is spread so much across genres that to categorise him as anything other than "maverick" (Ribot has collaborated with the likes of Robert Plant, John Zorn, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Arto Lindsay and Neko Case) would be a disservice. Expect a broad range of music, then, as well as a preview of songs from his forthcoming album, Protest Songs. TCL


Whelan’s, Dublin, Tuesday January 23rd, 8pm, €20

Welcome to the crossover of traditional folk and contemporary whatever-you're-having-yourself. Lau features three of the UK's most admired nu-traditional musicians: vocalist/guitarist Kris Drever (no stranger to Ireland), accordionist/keyboardist Martin Green, and fiddle player Aidan O'Rourke. Individually, the members have been garlanded with awards for their solo work, but it is as a unit that Lau has come to be known as the most creatively adventurous in British folk music. Don't know what to expect? Think Bert Jansch covering Radiohead songs, or Jon Hopkins raised on a diet of Fairport Convention tunes. Our advice: do not miss. TCL

Wallis Bird

Whelan’s, Dublin, Wednesday January 24th, 8pm €21.99

Thursday White Horse Ballincollig Cork, Thursday January 26th, 8.30pm, €25

Wallis Bird isn't one for staying around in any one place for too long. From Wexford to Dublin to Mannheim and many points in between, she has over a period of more than 10 years charted her own course. The results have always been invigorating, none more so than her latest album, Home, which (as its title implies) turns Bird's direction inwards. Now a long-time resident of Berlin, Bird returns to Ireland for a rare pair of gigs – this one, which is part of the Temple Bar Tradfest, and then Thursday in Cork as part of Ballincollig's Winter Music Festival. Different parts of the country? As we said, Wallis Bird likes to move. Both gigs highly recommended. TCL

Judy Collins

Triskel, Christchurch, Cork, Wednesday January 24th, 8pm, €25

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Friday January 26th, 8pm, €37.99

She is a grande dame of American folk music and, along with similarly titled Joan Baez, surely the only female of her vintage still regularly performing. Collins's commercial breakthrough arrived in 1967 with her version of Both Sides Now (written by Joni Mitchell, who is still in recuperative mode following a brain aneurysm almost three years ago), and from then to now she has continued to record and release music. Her trusted presence on the music scene is such that last year she received a Grammy nomination (Best Folk Album) for 2016's Silver Skies Blue, on which she collaborated with Ari Hest. One word? Class. TCL


Various venues, Temple Bar/city centre, Dublin, Wednesday January 24th-Sunday January 28th

It's Ireland's largest festival of traditional music, so we'll leave it to our suitably more qualified writer, Siobhán Long, to inform you of events in that area. In the pop/rock frame, however, there are similar highlights. These include Scottish band Big Country ( St Patrick's Cathedral, Wednesday 24th, 8.30pm), Newry band The 4 of Us (Whelan's, Thursday 25th, 8.30pm), Cork's Jack O'Rourke and Exeter-based Sound of the Sirens (St Werburgh's Church, Thursday 25th, 8.30pm), and Toronto-based Kaia Kater (St Werburgh's Church, Friday 26th 8.30pm). Runs until January 28th. TCL

Public Service Broadcasting

The Academy, Dublin, Wednesday January 24th, 7pm, €27.90 (sold out)

Limelight, Belfast, Thursday January 25th, 7pm, £22.50

There aren't many groups out there that take research seriously enough. London's Public Service Broadcasting, however, are made of sterner stuff – for last year's Every Valley album (which chronicles the rise and demise of the Welsh coal mining industry) members J Willgoose, JF Abraham and Wrigglesworth moved to Ebbw Vale in order to investigate the effect mine closures had on local communities, and to record former miners talking about the disruption to their lives and families. Like all PSB works, such testimony is set to swathes of ambient/electronica, the result as much a historical document as enlightening music. TCL

BIMM Battle of the Bands

Sin É, Dublin, Wednesday January 24th

The British and Irish Modern Music Institute is like the Fame Academy but with fewer legwarmers. Any up-and-coming acts in Ireland are now likely to have a BIMM connection and with a staff roster that boasts All Tvvins manager Mick Roe and Heathers' Louise MacNamara, they come from good stock. Their Battle of the Bands is a great way to see what direction the Irish music scene will take in the coming years. LB

Winter Music Festival

White Horse, Ballincollig, Cork, Thursday January 25th-Sunday January 28th, various times/ticket prices

Now in its ninth year, this music festival in a small out-of-the-way town outside Cork has been gaining traction with each passing year. The line-up features musicians and bands that are rarely high-profile names, but those who appreciate true quality know them well. This year, acts performing include Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Wallis Bird, Kaia Kater (definitely a newcomer to watch), Rubyhorse and The Niall McCabe Band. The salon-themed Culture Vultures event also features, with Notify performing, and readings/discussions with writers Doireann Ní Ghríofa and Conal Creedon. TCL

Elder Island

The Workman’s Club Dublin, Thursday January 25th, 8pm, €13

Bristol has a lot to be thankful for. The home of trip-hop has, of course, been a breeding ground of music talent for many years, and Elder Island is yet another example that can be placed close to Bristolian greats such as Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead and Roni Size. There is an ambient tint to Elder Island's music, too, as trio Katy Sargent, David Harvard and Luke Thornton harness influences that embrace soul, bass and the kind of atmospheres that delicately reference The xx and London Grammar. In other words, quality all the way. TCL

Detroit Swindle

Electric, Galway, Thursday January 25th, €11.25

For some guaranteed dirty beats and filthy bass, Detroit Swindle are going to serve up a hot and heavy night in the garden bar of Galway's Electric. The Amsterdam-based duo is made up of Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets, and they met when Dales had to fire Smeets from a club for playing too much underground music. But with a shared love for Motown and house, where one window closed for Smeets, a door opened for them as Detroit Swindle. LB

Moon Duo

Button Factory, Dublin, Friday January 26th, 7.30pm, €16

Ripley Johnson is often referred to as a "guitar warlock", and keyboard player Sanae Yamada is similarly praised, yet the pair remain a cult item. This is a pity, as recent albums such as Occult Architecture Vol 1 & 2 (the titles alone of which would surely scare off even the most curious of mainstream clientele) offer the committed fan more of the same: understated psychedelia underpinned with corrosive guitar work and hypnotic krautrock. It isn't for everyone, we agree, but anyone in search of space (and we know there are Hawkwind fans out there still looking) will find exactly what they need. TCL