The doubly talented Proclaimers performing in Dublin? I’m on my way

Rock & pop gigs of the week: Frank & Walters, Damien Dempsey, Villagers, Lily Allen

Craig and Charlie Reid aka The Proclaimers. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

Craig and Charlie Reid aka The Proclaimers. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod



Vicar St, Dublin 7.30pm €35.50
Another anniversary tour, another celebration of a singular talent. Or should that be talents? As The Proclaimers, Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid have been around since 1983, but in 1988 they released their most commercially successful album, Sunshine on Leith. There is, of course, much more to the twins than hits such as I’m on My Way and I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), but some songs have a habit of sticking. Not to worry – the Reid brothers’ latest album, Angry Cyclist, has its share of sturdy folk/pop, too, although we reckon if they omit Letter from America there’ll be trouble. Special guest is Kerry-based art brut singer and songwriter Junior Brother. TCL

Whelan’s, Dublin 8pm €22.50
Some bands get better with age, and Cork’s Frank & Walters is one of these. They have been ploughing the usual furrows for nigh-on 30 years, releasing durable pop songs and albums that have been well received without shattering record-selling statistics. And yet they remain a really good proposition for anyone interested in hearing canny pop hooks underpinned by words as melancholic as they are meaningful. Being featured earlier this year on comedy series The Young Offenders has brought the band’s music to a new audience, so expect to see original fans and newbies at this pre-Xmas bash (at which they’re supported by Birds of Olympus). Frank & Walters’ final headline show of 2018 is at Connolly’s of Leap, Co Cork, Friday, December 28th. TCL

Button Factory, Dublin 7.30pm €24
Wisconsin’s Julia Holter might be the only singer and songwriter around who has released an album (her 2011 debut, Tragedy) inspired by Euripides’s play Hippolytus. The Greek connection continued with her second record, Ekstasis (2012), as did her alignment with female art-pop artists such as Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, Joanna Newsom and Julianna Barwick. Holter’s latest work, Aviary, looks set to claim a place on the year’s Best Of lists, with various publications praising it to the hilt. Anticipate layered baroque pop, with classy pre-Xmas bells on. TCL

Upstairs in Whelan’s, Dublin €10
With their new single Just in the Band whirling around the internet, Irish art punk band Silverbacks are prepping for one of their final gigs of the year. Fresh off the Music Trail from Dingle’s Other Voices, the Dublin five-piece, fronted by brothers Killian and Daniel O’Kelly, are set to work the upstairs venue into a frenzy with their droll lyrics, tentative guitars and furious pace. If you haven’t become acquainted with Silverbacks, now is the time. LB

Dolan’s, Limerick €10
It’s hard to not get sentimental over Pillow Queens’ success this year, but it’s the end of the year, so credit where credit is due. Their State of the State EP is a sweet little pop-punk nugget and their video for Favourite, directed by Bob Gallagher, won Best Video at the Irish Film Festival London. Their video for Gay Girls, directed by Kate Dolan, shows a bunch of tearaway Communion girls wreaking havoc on the neighbourhood. So to sum up: Pillow Queens – worth your time. LB

The Grand Social, Dublin €13
Since 2014, Canadian singer and all-out rock star Tess Parks has been collaborating with Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe on an all-dark and all-encompassing new sound. Their debut album, I Declare Nothing, came out in 2015 and their latest, eponymous album is a moody and estranged slow-rock affair, tinged with dramatic strings. While Newcombe won’t be joining Parks in Dublin, it’s a chance to catch an enigmatic performer up close. LB

Live at St Luke’s, Cork €26.50
Damien Dempsey’s new album Union is a collaborative hodgepodge of great and varied songwriters. From John Grant to Kate Tempest, Maverick Sabre to Finbar Furey, these odd musical pairings show Dempsey’s adept skill of connecting to others through song. Just before the Dubliner begins his four-night run in Dublin’s Vicar Street, this gig in St Luke’s Church will properly kick off the Christmas season, and his special guest on the night is Ro Byrne, formerly of the Irish rock band Lir. LB


The Sound House, Eden Quay, Dublin 1 7.30pm €11.75
Like Norway’s Sigrid, UK songwriter Sam Fender was also on the BBC Sound of 2018 list. Also, like Sigrid, Fender is becoming very used to playing shows in Ireland. He was here previously a couple of months ago as part of Other Voices Ballina, during which he impressed all and sundry. Headlining at this excellent riverside venue, Fender performs at the end of a year that has seen him broaden his reach via the usual online outlets of Spotify and iTunes. Unusually for someone so young, however, his writing is quite politically charged and jagged. TCL


Olympia Theatre, Dublin 7pm €45.05 (sold out)
She has been through the mill, for sure, but after a dozen or so years as a supreme female songwriter and pop star, Lily Allen continues to be an important pop culture figure. She came back this year with a new album, No Shame, and a memoir, My Thoughts Exactly. With each work, she has consolidated her position as a thoughtful, confessional writer who isn’t afraid of admitting the rights and wrongs of any personal situation. Allen is also blessed with having an intuitive pop instinct, which makes her all the more necessary. Special guest is UK grime musician and producer S-X. TCL


Whelan’s, Dublin €22
Cavan gal Áine Cahill is another Irish artist that’s had a big year. Now signed to East West Records, a label distributed by the Warner Music Group, she’s been paving the way to become Ireland’s leading pop star. Her rich voice and observant lyrics certainly set her aside from the rest. Water Into Wine, her latest single, is a tale of liberation and, laced with religious undertones, it shakes off the chokehold of lies and manipulation and showcases her refined songwriting style and delivery. LB


Black Box, Galway 8pm €26/€24; also Friday, Set Theatre KiIkenny 8pm €26 (sold out)
Ten years ago, Conor O’Brien jettisoned his former band (The Immediate) to make way for new music he was creating under the umbrella title of Villagers. Four albums in – from 2010’s debut Becoming a Jackal to this year’s The Art of Pretending to Swim – and O’Brien is viewed by many as one of Ireland’s finest songwriters. There is more to come, of course (in her review of Villagers’ new album in this paper, Lauren Murphy wrote “if this is merely the art of pretending to swim, his podium finish – however far in the future it may be – ought to be truly Olympian”), but for now the year is over, bar the shouting. Here’s to whatever comes next. TCL

An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal 8pm €20; also Friday, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, Co Tyrone 8pm £17.50
It has been a terrific year for Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland, and deservedly so. Their most recent album, Halfway Towards a Healing, was released at the start of the year and has gathered a faithful audience as each month passed (as well as being included in Mojo’s Best Americana Albums of 2018). If you’re looking for Christmas cheer and calm, you are advised to tip the hat to the bros. Their nationwide tour concludes with shows at Backstage Theatre, Longford (Saturday December 15th), Live at St Lukes, Cork (Friday December 21st), Town Hall Theatre, Westport, Co Mayo (Saturday December 22nd), and Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co Meath (Sunday December 23rd). TCL


3Arena, Dublin 6.30pm €39.50 (sold out)
You can hear the screams already, can’t you? Yet behind the audience adulation is a great charity and cause. The 2FM Xmas Ball raises funds in aid of the ISPCC, so while you’re stomping, hollering and having a blast, you also know that your ticket is going to do some good to people in vulnerable, possibly dangerous situations. Introducing the music will be a raft of presenters from 2FM (including Nicky Byrne, Jenny Greene, Eoghan McDermott, Tracy Clifford, Bernard O’Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli), while music acts on the night include Hozier, Walking On Cars, Wyvern Lingo, Chasing Abbey, Keywest, Wild Youth and Brave Giant. TCL

The Sound House, Eden Quay, Dublin 1 8pm €15
For such a brilliantly loud band, it has been a reasonably quiet year for Fangclub. Thankfully, it’s earplugs ahoy for this show, which is the band’s end-of-year soiree wherein new material will be mixed in with tried and tested tunes from the band’s 2017 self-titled debut album and this year’s True Love EP. They’re an exceptional act in a live setting, so expect the walls of this venue to start sweating after the third song. Fangclub’s final gig of the year is at Mike the Pies, Listowel, Co Kerry, on Friday, December 21st. TCL

Wigwam, Dublin Adm free
“Well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me . . .” This is it. This is the weekend where we can finally get excited and dress ourselves in tinsel, head to toe. In a flurry of 1980s and 1990s classics and forgotten beauties, the Lime & Fancy DJ duo of Cian McHugh and Jenn Gannon are facilitating this festive carry-on. With mulled wine-stained lips and a string of fairy lights draped over your body, step into Christmas with gusto. LB

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