Paul McLoone: On My Culture Radar
The Undertones singer and Today FM DJ on the talent of Ruth Negga, following Fontaines DC and why Desert Island Discs works
Paul McLoone: ‘I recently watched McQueen, the Netflix documentary about Alexander McQueen, and it reminded me how great he was.’
Current favourite book
I’m reading A Fabulous Creation – a Roxy Music line – by David Hepworth, an English music journalist who started Q Magazine. It’s a personal look at the importance of the album as an art form. He cites the beginning of the album era as the mid-1960s with The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and contends that it ended in the 80s with the CD, which I wouldn’t agree with. It’s personal but it’s funny and wry. It’s also 300 pages which is just about all I can deal with.
There’s an Italian in Stoneybatter called Grano. It’s very busy, small and good. I was just there last week, and I had a wild boar ragu with tagliatelle. It’s no frills. You go there, sit down, and get the food, but the wine list is very impressive and the food is authentic.
I saw Matthew Bourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre a year or two ago, and it stays in my mind because of the richness of the production. More recently, Hamlet at the Gate Theatre was tremendous. I was lucky enough to be in the part of the theatre that was literally in the middle of the action: the actors were beside you, behind you, in front of you. Ruth Negga’s performance was nuanced and playful. She wasn’t a woman playing Hamlet, she was Hamlet as a woman. She totally owned it.
I recently watched McQueen, the Netflix documentary about Alexander McQueen, and it reminded me how great he was. I’ve always been fascinated by the way he joined the idea of fashion and art, with art to the fore. I went to see the exhibition at the V&A a while back, and when you see his work and walk through it, you understand the cumulative brilliance of the guy. He was so rebellious and instinctive and brilliant. The way his life ended was tragic, but the work is staggering.
It’s all about Fontaines DC for me. I was literally handed their 7” vinyl of Liberty Bell two years ago in Tower Records by their manager, and it’s been great to watch them progress, seemingly effortlessly. Everything is going so right for them: selling out Vicar Street and playing on Jimmy Fallon. They’re living the dream but they deserve it because the album is such a breath of fresh air: the music, the lyricism, and they’re such a tight gang. They’re punk even just by being real and uncompromising.
Istanbul is so incredible that straight after I first visited for a festival, as soon as I got home, I booked a ticket to go back again. I don’t think many other cities have a history as complex and intriguing as Istanbul, it’s had so many lives as a city. You can go to the Blue Mosque which is still a working mosque – it’s incredible to go in and look up at the grandeur of the architecture and the décor – or the Hygea Sofia, which has been a Christian church and a mosque in its time.
Desert Island Discs is popular for a reason. It’s so simple but the device is so revealing – it’s a key to unlock a person. I think Lauren Laverne is doing a tremendous job in what must be a pleasurable gig, in fairness. What she brings out of guests is incredible. It was the same with Kirsty Young, and even with tricky customers like Paul Weller or Morrissey. I recently listened to the Bob Mortimer one and learned an awful lot about him.
I normally avoid biopics but I’m a huge Laurel and Hardy fan and I really enjoyed Stan & Ollie. The performances were uncanny, but I loved it more because of the relationship between them. I think every guy, no matter how much he may protest this, loves seeing the depiction of true male-to-male friendship, with that profound loyalty and love. Not enough is made of that in general discourse, probably because men don’t like to acknowledge it. The film brought it across in a lovely way, without being too Hollywood.
Listen to Paul McLoone’s show on Today FM Monday to Thursdays, at 9pm to midnight.