Vladimir and Olga’s Classical Concert – Sol y Sombra Killorglin (7th March)

Vladimir Jablokov is a Slovakian violinist renowned for his classical take on modern music. Since arriving in Ireland back in 2004 he has forged a solid following for his own unique genre of ‘Classical Twist’. His normal set-list usually encompasses everything from Bach to Bowie. But on the 7th of March, accompanied by his sister Olga on piano, Vladimir showed the intimate crowd at the Sol y Sombra his true virtuoso talents.

Before I go any further with this review I have to stress that I am only 20, with a limited knowledge of classical music. So whilst I knew the first piece Vladimir played was by Mozart I am afraid that I cannot be any more specific in terms of symphony numbers, movements and so on. But all the same it was captivating to witness the duo’s master-ship of their respective instruments.

The night’s set-list is strictly classical featuring pieces from Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Paganini and some Strauss thrown in at the end for good measure. Each piece is book-ended with tales of composers and Vladimir’s own personal experience growing up with each. His storytelling is refreshing and adds layers to the live performance.

By the end of the night the crowd were baying for more and called the classical pair back to the stage for a double encore. The first of which prompted a little sing-song in the form of Jaromir Vejvoda’s ‘Beer Barrel Polka’. For the second, the crown had to make due with a theatrical bow.

Overall the concert was a resounding success.  It is not everyday that you are gifted the opportunity to observe such classical maestros up close and personal in a small town like Killorglin.

More photographs from the night are up on my facebook page

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Delorentos Live @ INEC Killarney

delorentosAfter what’s been the undoubted best year of their career, there’s a strange irony in Delorentos finishing 2012 in the slightly chaotic circumstances of the INEC. With last minute schedule changes seeing the gig move from the intimate confines of the Acoustic Club to the Ballroom next door, everyone involved has to reassess their approach to the evening. Playful appeals for the crowd to get up on their feet soon turned to desperate pleas. The band even stage a mock protest and refused to continue the gig unless the crowd get up off their chairs. The sound system sympathetically joins the protest by self-destructing in the strangest feat of theatrical coincidence. With no sound and the distinct possibility of the night ending early, front-men Kieran McGuinness and Rónan Yourell salvage the situation. Their impromptu acoustic and quite literally unplugged version of ‘Little Sparks’ rescues the moment and even manages to get some people on their feet.

The gig reverts back to normality in no time which unfortunately includes the crowd returning to their tables. But this does not quell the Delorentos spirit. Newer songs such as ‘The Stream’ and ‘Petardu’ show deeper and more mature levels of the band’s performance it is the old reliables that inevitably steal the show. In the end the paring of ‘S.E.C.R.E.T.’ and ‘STOP’ finally get the crowd up and they are only getting started when the aptly titled ‘Did We Ever Really Try’ brings things to a close.

While the night may not include all the trademarks of a conventional Delorentos gig, it does provide an alternative viewpoint to observe the band’s musical talents. Their performance on the night is note perfect and, while others may have withdrawn and sulked their way through proceedings, the Dubliners never give up. In many ways, perhaps a fitting conclusion to the year after all.

Published on: State.ie

Aslan @ INEC Acoustic Club 16/06/12

Aslan’s gig at the INEC proved to be a real diverse affair. The crowd varied from the die-hard apostles, who followed the band from the early stages, to the new fans embarking on their Aslan pilgrimage. The set-list did well to reflect this diversity with an interesting fusion of songs both old and new. The one thing that remained constant on the night was Aslan’s mesmerising stage presence. Their passion fuelled performance and the band’s triple encore kept the Acoustic Club rocking well into the small hours.

Dave Morrissey got the ball rolling with a collection of interesting tracks off his album ‘Bring Out The Light’. He made an honest effort engaging with the crowd and set the mood for the night ahead.

After his short set, Aslan took to the stage. The North Dublin rockers opened the show with ’Wait for our friends’, an upbeat track from their new album. The peculiar named album ‘Nudie Books And Frenchies’, released to coincide with Aslan’s 30 year anniversary, provided an abundance of tantalizing tracks which acted as the perfect filler in-between the band ‘classics’. The Acoustic Club accommodated for an intimate sit down affair which allowed the gig to develop a more personal atmosphere. Frontman, Christy Dignam, enthralled the crowd with captivating backstories of songs as he performed them.

Some of the more stand out tunes of the night included ‘Lucy Jones Part 1’, ‘Too Late For Hallelujah’, ‘We Did’ and of course the iconic ‘Crazy World’ which got the crowd off their feet and reverted the gig back to the conventional format. Aslan ended the gig on a high note with their first ever single ‘This Is’, a song once rejected by Bono and Mother Records and defiantly became one of Irelands longest played radio singles on 2FM.

After 30 years of gigging, Dignam and Co. decided to skip the formalities in regard to the ‘encore’. Rather than leave the stage for an undisclosed number of minutes, letting the crowd grow a bit restless and inevitably be called back to the chorus of ‘One More Tune!’, Aslan opted to get on with things. The encore offered up an impressive triumvirate of songs. ‘Too Late For Hallelujah’ led the charge, getting its second play of the night. What followed was an interesting solo cover of Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’ as well as a crowd pleasing rendition of ‘Hey Jude’.

Overall, it was a fantastic gig. The small Acoustic Club provided an intimate setting which allowed for more engagement with the crowd. It was a passionate, heartfelt performance from the Dublin lads and a true testament to Irish rock. Aslan have been around the music scene for a long time, recorded some amazing songs and have worked harder than necessary to get to where they are today. With a new album and a renewed vigour it may not be much longer till they reach the levels of success they undoubtedly deserve.

Indiependence Music and Arts Festival Review

Small festivals don’t come much bigger than the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival. With its low capacity of 5,000, low price tag for a weekend ticked and heavy hitting line up, it’s no wonder that it has evolved from a free one day event to a mega three day festival in just a couple of years. Situated on the idyllic Dear Farm, Mitchelstown, Indiependence is a mecca for music lovers and partygoers alike.

This Club took to the main stage at 7. After a slow start to the festival their unique brand of funk was exactly what the crowd needed to get going. They played a quick half hour set jam-packed with their signature hits such as ‘Add It Up’.

The best thing about Indiependence has to be the size of the arena. All stages are within view of each other and timetable clashes are easily avoided. This meant that we missed no part of The Original Rudeboys set. They played a blinder and did well to showcase their diverse musical style. The set list consisted of their inner city brand of rap music and they played everything from a Mumford and Sons cover to their signature single ‘Stars In My Eyes’.

I never thought I would be walking away from a Bressie gig with nothing but praise. But Indiependence has the power to do things like that. He gave everybody exactly what they wanted. From his hit singles ‘Breaking my Fall’ to a Martin Solveig cover (Hello). He even threw in something from the Blizzard’s (The Irish Indie band he previously fronted before donning the red trousers and settling for a career as a judge on The Voice in Ireland). He also managed to squeeze in a cover of ‘The Joker’, that is before returning to his indie-pop set list. With both ears ringing from the throngs of screaming girls who occupied the crowd and the alluring call from Jape, who was about to take to the Big Top stage, it was time to bid farewell to Bressie.

Jape occupied the headline slot in Big Top Friday night. They played a host of mesmerizing classics reworked to epic proportions. Watching the musical maestro’s on stage it’s not hard to see why they have built up a solid following. Front man, Richie Egan, effortlessly changed from guitar to keyboard. He even managed to produce some interesting sounds using a combination of his head and a tambourine. The Big Top was at full capacity and the atmosphere was electric. By the time ‘The Oldest Mind’ drew the set to a close it was hard to see if anyone was going to better Jape’s performance.

Raglans started the proceedings early on Saturday afternoon and filled the main stage with their own brand of indie folk. They had plenty tricks up their sleeves to help them draw a crowd including a huge Feeder stage banner which was hoisted during sound check. They also managed to clear the rain during their set. But the biggest draw of all was their musical ability and vocal talent. The 40 minute wait in the rain was well worth it as what followed was possibly one of the best performances of the weekend. It’s a real shame that these guys drew the graveyard shift and ended up playing to less than adequate crowds. But the Raglans are definitely a band to be earmarked as future headliners.

Keeping with the Indiependence tradition of inviting big name indie-rockers from across the water, Feeder took to the main stage to headline the second night. Their set consisted of an hour long trip down memory lane for many of the festival revelers. They also threw in some of the newer stuff for good measure. Opening with the epic ‘Feeling a Moment’ and closing with the generation defining anthem ‘Just A Day’ it’s not hard to see why the crowd got behind the Welsh rockers. The only complaint I did have was that at times the set seemed like a sales pitch for their new album, ‘Generation Freakshow’. But with songs like ‘Borders’ it was a pitch the entire crowd was happy to listen to.

Headlining the Big Top was the enigmatic Scroobius Pip. Being no stranger to the festival, or even the Big Top for that matter, he made himself right at home. With a microphone in one hand, bottle of rosé in the other and live band behind him, it was clear that it was going to be a good show. Nobody was left disappointed as Pip emptied his back catalogue out on stage. With a concoction of genius lyrics and infectious music no one was left standing still throughout the set.

With Beardyman cancelling at the last minute the headline responsibilities for the big top were passed on to Delorentos. The Dublin based indie-rockers put on an amazing show packing out the tent with eager fans cramming in from all angles to be part of the action. They expertly played to the crowd, offering up a host of classic tracks. The reaction to some of better known songs such as S.E.C.R.E.T. is astounding and it’s a wonder the roof wasn’t blown off the big top. A timetabling misjudgment saw them clash with British Sea Power. From the size of crowd Delorentos managed to conjure up it’s a wonder if anyone was watching the other gig over on the main stage.

The honor of closing the festival fell to The Coronas, another band who are no strangers to Indiependence. The Main Stage has not been as busy all weekend and atmosphere is noticeably different from the Delorentos gig. A minor fracas broke out in front of where we are standing, the first of which I’ve seen all weekend. Also cups and bottles are thrown throughout the gig, the only other thing I’ve seen thrown over the weekend were frisbee’s at the Feeder gig. Regardless of this The Coronas put on an impressive display of musicianship. Front man, Danny O’Reilly, is note perfect throughout the night and effortlessly makes the transition from guitar to piano. The set list has everything and spans the bands entire discography. Songs like ‘San Diego Song’ do well to get the crowd going whilst ‘Someone Else’s Hands’ shows us the true depth of the Coronas talent. Overall the set list isn’t balanced. Crowd- pleasing anthems are diluted by clusters of less known songs. This allowed for some quiet periods during the set. But some extravagant stage effects quickly recaptured any idle attention spans. The gig ended on a double encore with the sublime ‘Heroes And Ghosts’ being performed in both Irish and English. But the cover of Mic Christopher’s ‘Heyday’ was the real show stealer.

Indiependence is a small festival with a big heart. It is well run and the atmosphere is always friendly and easy going. The one negative I had with the festival was the security. They deliberately went out of their way to disrupt the laid back atmosphere. People were made feel like a criminals as they entered the arena, with long queues, over excessive full body searches and less than apologetic staff (barring a few of course). Perhaps this is the norm at larger festivals but having attended Indiependence last year I know this is not the case. The security were clearly living in the shadows of the events that marred the Phoenix Park when the Swedish House Mafia played last month. But this was the only blemish on an overall successful weekend. I am sure next year with new security staff the festival could reach even further impressive heights.

John Spillane Live @ Sol y Sombra

‘Welcome to the Hit Factory’

An eclectic and eccentric performance with everything from ‘Killer Whales’ to ‘Cherry Trees’ packaged and delivered  in true corkonian style on the altar of the Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar.

The mood is immediately set by Brian Flanagan with an interfusion of both laid back and thought-provoking tunes. He does well to warm up the intimate crowd and when it is time for Spillane to take to the stage both the atmosphere and crowd are noticeably effervescent.

The venue, a whimsical cross between a beautifully restored Irish church and Spanish Tapas Bar, provides the perfect setting for the nights entertainment. With its intimate size and closeness of the stage it hard not to be absorbed by the live performance.

The set list for the night spans his entire back catalogue with musical delights and crowd favourites such as ‘The Dance of The Cherry Tree’, ‘Dunnes Stores Girl’, ‘Passage West’ and countless other songs that Spillane ‘made up in his own imagination’.

His well worked routine has the crowd in stitches and personally I cannot recall a gig where I laughed as much. But songs like ‘There Was A Man’ and ‘Gortatogort’ quickly remind us that there is a serious musician behind all the jokes and laughter.

Overall the gig is a great success. A spell bounding feat of awe-inspiring lyrical ability paired with a well worked mastery of the guitar allowed the solitary figure in the red shirt to fill the stage and light up the room as well as the faces of those who occupied it.

A great showcase for all that is right with Irish Music.

The Minutes @ Indiependence

I wasn’t able to give The Minutes a mention in my published review so I thought I would put something up here. Before sharing my opinions of their live set at Indiependence let me give you some background information about the band.

The Minutes are a three piece Dublin rock bank who got together back in 2006. They quickly built up a reputation and became a formidable force in the Dublin live music scene. They released their debut album, Marcata, last year and have since had the honor of sharing the stage with some rock n roll heavyweights including Foo Fighters and The Black Keys. Below are some of my notes from The Minutes live set at the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival.

The final day of the festival saw a huge surge in numbers. This was mostly down to the day ticket sales. The Minutes took to the main stage at 20:15 and by the time we arrived the crowd was already starting to fill up. The band quickly showed why they are the flag bearers for modern day Irish rock, by laying down some excellent tunes including both hit singles ‘Fleetwood’ and ‘Black Keys’. But they did seem a bit of detached from the crowd. The main stage seemed more like a waiting room, with The Minutes acting as the magazines which kept the crowd mildly entertained, as they waited for the headliners to grace the stage. This of course not the bands fault. They did well to entertain the pocket of  fans who occupied the area in front of the stage. It was a pity that more people didn’t get into the spirit of things. Perhaps a Big Top slot, in the tent, would have suited the band better.

Unfortunately I have no photos from The Minutes set but below is the video for their single ‘Black Keys’ (Not to be confused with the American rock duo). Have a listen and be sure to let me know what you think of them.