Friday, October 26, 2018

Just Gilbert, Gilbert O’Sullivan Live, Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, 23 October 2018.

Gilbert O'Sullivan celebrated 50 years in entertainment with a sell out extensive tour over the past 2 Years taking in most of the UK, Australia, various European Cities and of course his native Ireland, with his final show of the tour performing with the RTE concert orchestra in a sell out show at Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre in December 2017. The compilation ‘Essential Gilbert’ album released to coincide with the tour, featuring the classic hits from the 70s and 80s along with a selection of more recent album tracks, was a significant UK chart hit helping the now legendary singer songwriter to regain his rightful place in the pantheon of great composers of modern popular song. To coincide with the recent release of a brand new studio album entitled ’Gilbert O’Sullivan’ produced by Ethan Johns, Gilbert announced a further series of live performances, this time solo ’Just Gilbert’ shows in smaller more intimate venues across the UK, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland. The selection of the fast rising Pavilion Theatre in Dublin’s Dun Laoghaire was an inspired choice of venue with the sell out crowd enjoying a rare pared back but still brilliant Gilbert performance. Accompanied this time by a single musician, guitarist and long time Gilbert band member, Bill Shanley, Gilbert performed many of his classic hits, sharing the stories behind the songs with a delighted Pavilion audience. The signature big hits ‘Nothing Rhymed‘, ‘We Will‘, ‘Alone Again Naturally' and many others were beautifully delivered along with tracks from the new album such as ‘At The End Of The Day’, ‘I'll Never Love Again’ and the evocative and catchy ‘Dansette Dreams and 45's’, the latter emerging as a new fan favourite. This was a rare opportunity to witness a true artist without the backup of a brilliant band showing precisely why he has such an enduring appeal and loyal fan base across the world. His talent as a composer of great pop songs combined with his shy, reticent yet deeply entertaining live performer persona, ensures Gilbert O’Sullivan’s place in pop music history. The fact that he is still performing live to sell out crowds and continuing to write and record new music is evidence of just how special this man really is.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Johnny Logan Live at Vicar Street - Dublin 22 September 2018

Johnny Logan was clearly still on a high from a recent appearance at ‘Electric Picnic’ when he took to the stage at Vicar Street on Sat 22 Sept. At a venue which has hosted many music legends over the years Johnny worked his adoring audience into a pure frenzy. The security staff probably weren’t expecting such a busy evening, frequently having to prevent some of Logan’s more enthusiastic fans from rushing the stage. In the presence of a sell out capacity crowd made up of fans from at least 6 different Countries, Johnny delivered one of his finest ever live performances with a well judged and perfectly executed set. Mixing new and old material, from his classic Eurovision winners to more recent material from the 2017 studio album ‘It is what it is’, Johnny could do no wrong. Particular highlights on the night were ‘House of Lucille’, ‘Addicted’, an unusual interpretation of Leonard Cohen‘s classic ‘Hallelujah‘, recent hit single ‘Forever and a day’ (a track reminiscent of Logan’s massive hit ‘Hold Me Now‘) and the evocative ‘Full moon over Berlin’. A deeply moving performance of ‘What’s Another Year’, with composer Shay Healy bravely sharing the stage with Johnny brought the audience to its feet. Johnny Logan has never lost his principle gifts, a powerful and truly majestic voice, genuine sex appeal and the clear ability to connect with an audience. His three Eurovision wins have been in his own words ‘both a blessing and a curse’ bringing him international fame and critical derision in equal measure but at his core Johnny Logan is a truly soulful singer and gifted live performer. Now in his 60s though looking and sounding like a much younger man, he is one of Ireland’s true national treasures and a show business icon. In his Vicar Street show, Johnny displayed once again the reason why he has won so many Eurovision Song Contests; pure raw talent. Johnny Logan has enjoyed significant international success over what has now been a very long career, but his homecoming Vicar Street shows over the past 3 years have finally enabled his Irish audience to reconnect with his particular blend of Euro Magic and appreciate the man in an entirely new light as a bona fide Irish musical legend. A final word on Logan’s brilliant musicians at Vicar Street led by M.D Eugene McCarthy featuring a shy, talented & sensual guitarist, Jack Sherrard (Johnny Logan’s son), with an innate musical ability in his own right. Daniel Lindon

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Leo Sayer Cork Opera House 16 September 2018 Still 'Moonlighting' & Rocking @70
Leo Sayer celebrated his 70th birthday recently, not that age matters to this legendary hit maker and consummate live performer. 'Fxxx Old Age' Leo told his adoring Cork audience, during his last show on a short sell out Irish Tour which also included gigs in Dublin & Northern Ireland to equally enthusiastic audiences. Emerging into the limelight for the first time in the 1970s Leo Sayer is one of the music industry's great survivors of UK pop's golden era which saw his music top the charts worldwide and achieve critical as well as commercial success. Falling out of fashion in the 1990s, the decade when music largely turned its back on legendary pop and rock artists, Sayer managed to stage an unexpected comeback in 2006 when a remix of his classic hit 'Thunder in the Night' topped the UK singles charts. Numerous compilation albums and a new studio album followed which slowly saw the singer tour his way back to the top leaving his many well publicised legal battles with former managers and record companies behind. One of the last truly great British live pop artists still touring today, a night with Leo Sayer is a master class in pop music performance. His voice has lost practically none of its power and his on stage energy is as infectious as ever. His Opera House show featured all the Sayer smash hits as well as tracks from more recent studio recordings such as the 2015 'Restless Years' album. Particular highlights at the Opera House were performances of his classics 'Moonlighting' and 'Orchard Road' (2 of his finest ever recordings) as well as a mesmerising extended blues inspired performance of 'Raining in my Heart', showcasing his own brilliant harmonica skills. Leaving the Opera House stage after numerous standing ovations, Leo promised to return soon and his Cork audience were all agreed, make it very soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Red Hurley - National Concert Hall 21 August 2018

Red Hurley has been through many significant career phases forgetting more career highlights (over 20 hit records including 5 number 1s, TV specials, multiple sell out tours) than most artists come close to experiencing. Currently enjoying yet another significant comeback with a sell out late 2018 Irish tour and a number 1 album of spiritual classics,aimed at the 2018 papal visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in which 3 of his hit songs are showcased, Red played to a sell out crowd at the National Concert Hall on the 21 August 2018, receiving 2 standing ovations. The hit show featured a host of special guests including a star turn from actor and singer Patrick Bergin (looking and sounding like a latter day Kris Kristofferson) and Red‘s talented & beautiful daughter Stephanie ( a young woman to watch with a soaring voice). Just reaching an age when other artists might be slowing down, Red Hurley’s career is scaling the heights yet again and this true legend is surely one of the great Irish show business survivors. After this sell out autumn solo tour finishes, watch out for Red in 2019 headlining the Ronan Collins 'Reeling in the Showband Years' 10th anniversary tour across Ireland and another 'Stars in the Sun' 2019 Spanish residency (with fellow Eurovision star, Linda Martin). An interesting fact to remember is that Red's more recent chart success, with a slew of successful album releases from 2005 to 2019, places him among the most successful chart acts in Irish show business history with hits in every decade (singles & albums) from the late 1960s to the present day (2018).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nathan Carter Live in Dublin (The Helix 14 Feb 2016)

Its back to the future with this hunk of burning man talent At times its hard to decide whether Nathan Carter wants to be a worldwide star or if he’s just a handsome lucky young guy, thrust into the spotlight in a live Irish and UK music scene that has become complacent , dull and starved of fun and sex appeal. Cool rock acts and introspective singer songwriters may garner plenty of critical acclaim and even supply us with the odd classic record but, as many music venue owners and record company executives have discovered to their cost in recent years, only the very biggest of them manage to put bums on seats on a regular basis and even then only on the odd national or world tour. With Nathan Carter, its very much back to the future in terms of his decidedly old fashioned road to fame, a regular gigging now suddenly superstar big name act, prepared to tour more or less constantly, play big and smaller venues, make slick often pop inspired country/folk records, who looks good and is not uncomfortable appealing equally to a young and older female fan base and even a few straight and gay men thrown in for good measure. The result, a now massive and diverse fan base, ever increasing CD sales and sell out gigs wherever he plays. Throw in a solid talented backing band and it’s a recipe for good old fashioned success. This is Nashville meets the Showband & Ballad boom era with a touch of modern smouldering sex appeal thrown in, this guy can simply do no wrong at present. Gradually attracting the same packed houses in cities like Dublin and Cork as he has been getting for over 5 years in more rural venues and slowly building a significant UK fan base too, his sold out Helix show (the first of 2, a second date in March has already sold out) was another milestone gig for the clearly ambitious 25 year old star. More all round entertainer than pure country and western this handsome guy has a really interesting evocative voice which remains largely untested to date by the often safe carefully selected material. This has been changing albeit slowly with his current Decca (Universal) record company. While his recordings to date have been largely composed of tried and tested classic Irish and International country and pop hits from the past, if Nathan Carter is to have significant international success and genuine longevity he needs to start recording more original material. Meanwhile for now his audiences particularly in Ireland, cant seem to get enough of his brand of energetic nostalgia mixed with slick well devised performances and more than a little on stage sexual energy. Particularly effective in his Helix show was the wise focus on his strong vocals, his skills as a musician (Carter is a talented pianist and accordion player in his own right) and the experienced band which gives Carter a slick international sound. Far more impressive live than his more stage managed occasionally slightly uncomfortable TV appearances would suggest, this is a performer with a very bright future if he is prepared to slowly take a few more risks with his material. His performance style, sometimes reminiscent of an early Elvis exhibits an understated but still obvious sexual energy which , means various female underwear regularly thrown on stage and hit songs with lyrics about women getting drunk on tequila and stripping off ‘for fun‘. Clearly this guy know exactly what he is doing and where he wants to take his already successful career but there is also some solid talent to reckon with here, Nathan Carter is more than just a pretty face. Particular highlights at the Helix were a soaring interpretations of classics such as ‘The town I loved so well’ & ‘Caledonia‘, his own hit album track ‘Beautiful life’ and an effective intimate solo set with just Nathan & a white baby grand piano, where he really connects with his live audience. His signature smash hit ‘Wagon wheel’ opens the inevitable encore set which ends in a frenzy of Nathan worship to rival the stars of Country’s (and Pop’s) golden era. This is a performer who is old fashioned in many ways yet packaged perfectly for the modern world and whose real strength lies in the fact that he isn’t afraid to be sexy, open and genuinely entertaining. His cooler but much duller contemporaries and wannabe pop impresarios (yes POP impresarios) should take a good look at the reaction of his female fans, who as one twenty something devotee remarked to me at the interval, at last have a man they can fancy as well as listen to.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why we shouldn't be too judgemenatal about Donald Trump or despair at the sexism directed at Hilary Clinton

Before we laugh too loudly at the prospect of Donal Trump as President or marvel at the sexism faced by female political colossus Hilary Clinton, stop for a moment and reflect on the nature of Politics closer to home. US politics is easy to criticise or even openly deride, the larger than life often cartoon like Donal Trump, the bookish cerebral Bush brother Jeb (so different to his ex-President Brother GW) and the slew of still relatively unknown republican rivals (outside of the US), if one of them manages to enter our psyche eventually so be it. All seem bizarre choices to be even under consideration as the next President of the most important country on earth yet Trump and the yet to be reckoned with Jeb Bush are both relatively close to being the next Commander in Chief. On the Democratic side both Hilary Clinton & Bernie Saunders while eminently more appealing to us here at home, the UK and across Europe, have also seen their respective campaigns trip up on the often treacherous vortex of madness and mayhem that is the US political process. Before we laugh or sneer however at the often crazy world of US politics, let’s look at our own political system and the ironies it often throws up. Inept and occasionally corrupt politicians are regularly elected in these Islands and end up rubbing shoulders and even sometimes sitting in Cabinets with eminently able and yes even honest political colleagues. This happens often both here in Ireland and at Westminster. Continental Europeans, despite producing some brilliant politicians are also just as likely to elect far right neo fascist candidates with large levels of voter support and European history is littered with extreme political figures of which Hitler is merely the best known. Before we balk too much at Trump’s much criticised and inconsistent views, how about analysing why so many French people vote for far right candidates, how so many Italians supported openly corrupt leaders right to the bitter end. Closer to home why do so many UK voters support political figures whose primary goal seems to be to isolate them from the European Union at a time when an economically and socially unified but culturally diverse Europe is more crucial than ever. Here in Ireland can we really say that all our politicians aren’t at least as ‘out there’ as Trump sometimes appears to be and, to those who profess to be shocked by the sexism directed at Hilary Clinton, why have we still never had a female Taoiseach or chosen a woman as leader of at least one of the two largest political parties? Before we laugh too loudly at US politics , reflect for a moment on the often equally bizarre political landscape of Ireland, Great Britain and Continental Europe, where if we are really honest, our politics can seem be just as bizarre at times, maybe the yanks aint so crazy after all…..

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Still Cliff - Still Rockin, Cliff Richard Live In Dublin (Bord Gais Grand Canal Theatre) June 7th, 2014

Prince of Rock and Roll Delivers Knockout Dublin Performace. The second last show on a world tour that has spanned almost fifteen months saw the veteran rocker take the stage on a hot summer night in Dublin’s beautiful Grand Camal Theatre. Looking at least 15 years younger than his 73 years, Cliff Richard showed yet again why he has remained on top for over 50 years. In a glittering career that has seen him record one hundred albums and enjoy a volume of hit singles that will probably never be equalled, Cliff has lasted for one simple reason, he’s an outstanding singer and live performer. Slick, sophisticated, charming, relaxed and yes still sexy in his 70s (how does he do it?) Cliff was looking and singing better than ever in his sold out Dublin show. Showcasing his most recent hit album (his 100th release) ‘The Fabulous Rock and Roll Songbook’, Cliff and his band provided some knock out moments from the album such as the recent hit single the Little Richard Classic ‘Rip it up’. ‘Poetry in motion‘, ‘Sealed with a kiss’ and ‘Fabulous‘. Trawling through his back catalogue of smash hits the new show featured new performances of Cliff standards such as ‘Miss You Nights‘, ‘Wired for Sound‘, ‘Ocean Deep’ and his biggest ever hit, the late 70s pop classic ‘We don’t talk anymore’, which brought the Dublin audience to their feet, where they remained for the rest of the show. In a two hour set with two encores, Cliff Richard rocked the theatre and worked his captive audience into a frenzy. Other highlights on the night were a new arrangement of his first ever hit ‘Move It’, a soulful homage to his movie Summer Holiday, a trip down memory lane to his Eurovision past and a twenty five minute long energetic closing rock and roll classics medley which brought the house down. This enduring icon, misunderstood by some, is adored by his fans, who span the ages from young to old. His stunning vocal style, excellent material and most of all his innate ability to remain relevant in an era when performers have become disposable after one hit record, sets him apart as one of the true Princes of British pop. His many detractors over the years have failed to stop the march of one of the icons of pop music, the UKs own Rock and Roll Royalty. Cliff Richard closes his tour with a gig at Cork’s Marquee on Monday 9th June, the hit album (his 100th UK /Irish chart entry) ‘The Fabulous Rock and Roll Songbook’ is on sale now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Noel Coward’s ‘The Vortex’ Venue: Gate Theatre Dublin Date: February/March 2014 Director: Annabelle Comyn.

Dublin’s historic Gate Theatre revives one of Noel Cowards most under appreciated masterpieces. Noel Coward’s controversial and leftfield piece caused a minor scandal in 1920s London where its heady mix of sex, hypocrisy and denial mixed with enough alcohol, tobacco and cocaine to shock even modern theatregoers, brought to the fore the more serious side of the occasionally superficial but always entertaining playwright and actor. This new 2014 production at Dublin’s Gate Theatre directed by Annabelle Comyn features a cleverly chosen mix of established and emerging actors and is the frst production from the Gate Theatre 2014 season. Flawlessly lit by Chahine Yavroyan and beautifully designed by Paul O’Mahony with costumes by Peter O’Brien, this Coward revival is further evidence of Micheal Colgan’s brilliant stewardship of the legendary Dublin Theatre. The Vortex, darker and less clichéd than much of Coward’s other work is one of his finest plays. As relevant today as when it was first produced almost a century ago, The Vortex is a beautifully written study of human need at its most visceral. The cast of this new production gel together beautifully under Comyn’s creative and innovative direction. ParticularLy impressive are Susannah Harker & Rory Fleck Byrne as Florence and Nicky Lancaster, the mother and son who share the same need for unconditional love and the same inability to achieve it. Star turns include Helen Saville’s beautifully observed ‘Fiona’ and an acerbic tour de force from Mark O’Regan as ‘Pauncefort Quentin’ one of Coward’s most amusingly written gay male characters. The Gate Theatre itself is thriving and producing theatre which compares extremely favourably with its West End counterparts. Its legendary founders, the late Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir, would be delighted to see their creation still producing relevant and successful drama in the 21st century while continuing to attract some of the world’s leading actors and most importantly, sold out audiences. The Vortex runs at the Gate Theatre Dublin until March 22nd.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Alison Moyet ''The Minutes Tour' (UK/IRL Opening Night) Cork Opera House - 30 Sept 2013

As opening nights go this was as perfect as it gets. No major sound issues, a first night audience to die for in one of Europe’s emerging cities, a venue and set which were almost clinically perfect and a star exuding a renewed confidence as a live performer showcasing an album that has already been a major UK chart success and which marks a major return to form for one of the 80s most innovative pop artists. Even the warm up act 'Richard Walters' was astoundingly good with a voice that seems capable of seducing even the most jaded ear (where has he been hiding?). The set list featured all the knockout tracks from her 'Minutes' album interspersed with new takes on some of her classic 80s and 90s pop hits. Unapologetically revisiting her electronic roots, Moyet was ably assisted on stage by two stunningly talented musicians weaving a seductive soundscape and working her Cork first night audience into a frenzy. Never overly nostalgic and always original and challenging, Moyet admonished one of her fans for asking her to sing her hit ‘Invisible’ which she firmly proclaimed “I am never singing again” although she had no such qualms about revisiting most of the remaining back catalogue of major hits. Her audience seemed aware that this incarnation of their idol is a very different one to the 80s pop star they first encountered. Now very firmly a pop Diva (in the best sense of that word) this outstanding vocal magician is looking and singing better than ever and is riding the wave of what has been her biggest album in a decade. Apart from the classic hits which have stood the test of time to become pop classics, highlights of the night came very firmly from the new material with tracks such as ‘Remind Yourself’, ‘When I was your Girl’, ‘Love Reign Supreme’ and a stunning evocative performance of one of the new album’s most original songs ‘Filigree’. Finishing with a rousing revival of one of her initial Yazoo breakthrough hits ‘Don’t Go’ this tour is a must see throughout UK this Oct and extending later to the US & South Africa. Frankly it is just great to see Moyet back on form, being appreciated for the major talent that she is and having hit albums again after almost 30 years of making great original music. Don’t Miss the second coming of this true vocal genius and a slick stage show that proves yet again how good the UK are at producing brilliant pop music, if only they would ditch the XFactor rubbish and return to supporting long careers for classic and talented artists such as Alson Moyet. &