Guest Lists: Brian Brannigan’s (A Lazarus Soul) best gigs of 2015

Brian Brannigan, singer and lyricist with one of Ireland’s finest bands A Lazarus Soul looks back at some of the best gigs he witnessed in 2015. A Lazarus Soul released the brilliant ‘Last of the Analogue Age’ in 2014; a live performance in the Mercantile recently produced one of the most spine tingling moments I can recall at a live show in recent years. ‘Midday Class’ from the aforementioned album is one of those songs when performed in a live setting, silences the room, a stunning piece of music that induces shivers like only the best music can.


A WINGED VICTORY FOR THE SULLEN – Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire 10-02-15 A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Dun Laoghaire really is at the end of the world but this was special act that warranted venturing that far out on February evening. Dustin O’Halloran, Adam Wiltzie & co. conjured up ambient classical alchemy. A stunning performance which proved them to be in different class to their many imitators. The set was mainly from their latest opus, Atomos, I think. I’d left my body for the majority of it so can’t say for certain. The NCH would be the perfect venue, next time maybe.




Hedge Schools live HEDGE SCHOOLS – Kevin Barry Room NCH, 12-03-2015

End of the winding day was my hands down, album of the year. A handcrafted album both musically & physically which the Hedge Schools sent out into the world, in style. The paired back arrangements of Joe Chester (grand piano), Donagh Molloy (Trumpet) & Vyvienne Long (Cello) enchanted the audience but left the perfect space for Pat Barrett achingly beautiful voice. There’s a passion & honesty in Barrett’s work that makes nigh impossible not to warm to. You could sense that the fervent crowd had taken this album to their hearts already as they basked in this magical performance.


SWANS – Button Factory, 07-05-15

I’d heard so much about the noise & intensity of Swans show that I was slightly unnerved as they took to the stage. I find playing To Be Kind or The Seer ,while cleaning the gaf on Saturday morning, can be quite an unsettling experience in itself but in the flesh they are a beast.  Gira cuts a mean swans livefigure, in his cream Stetson & I felt like my teenage self-witnessing the Bad Seeds for the first time. This band of accomplished musicians are as tight as fuck, due to gruelling 6hr rehearsal marathons but they never show off. Instead they whip up a cacophony of down strums & the maelstrom is hypnotic. It feels more than a gig, it feels ceremonial. During the 2 hour set, I managed to look away only once, to call a round of whiskey’s to steady the nerves. Despite his on stage persona, he is a true gent, who comes out after the gig to sign records & pose for photos with his congregation. You need to see Swans play live at least once in your lifetime.
MARK GEARY/ CIARAN DWYER – Mick Murphy’s Ballymore Eustace, 18-05-15

Mark GearyI read a tweet from Knoxville Mornings, Ciaran Dwyer that he’s supporting Mark Geary at 9p.m in a pub Ballymore Eustace on Monday night. I got a foolish notion, popped Ballymore Eustace into Google Maps & was there in hour. I walked into the coolest little pub & gig I’ve been to in many a year. The place was packed & nobody looked like they were going to work on Tuesday. A respectful audience lapped up Dwyer’s stories of love, loss & Newbridge. Dwyer like all the great performers has a knack of setting up the audience with a sometimes touching but mostly hilarious preamble before knocking them out with the song. Mark Geary, accompanied by double bass & the gorgeous voice of Grainne Hunt floored me with a world class set. The surroundings lent to making this a special evening & I was the only reluctant patron vacating the premises at 11.30p.m. A gig I hope to get back to next year.


KEATON HENSON – NCH 15-08-2015

Keaton Henson rarely plays shows because of stage fright & tonight he would play to a packed concert hall with the brilliant Crash Ensemble for company; oh, & some bloke called Ren Ford. He looked petrified & I had genuine concern during the first number that he would faint. He made a Keaton Hensonclanger of chord in the beginning & put his hands up to at the end of the song, this served as a great ice breaker. He was sublime after this & the desolate beauty of songs like “Sweetheart what have you done” or “Elevator Song” broke the collective heart of the audience. Jeff Buckley came into my mind more than once during the set & he even played a version of Cohen’s Halleluiah to a rapturous response. He looked shattered at the end, as if he’d put every last drop of emotion. I ran out of the NCH so I didn’t bump into anyone after the show. It was one of those where you just wanted to be left with your own version of events.



LIAM O’MAONLAI – Maynooth Castle 18-08-15

I always thought Liam O Maonlai was a spacer but it was Sunday afternoon & he was playing down the road in Maynooth castle, so I said I’d wander Liam O Maonlaidown. He looked great for a start, in a tweed suit, no shoes, unkempt beard & grandfather specs. He joined a local band on stage, at the tail end of their set & then took over proceedings with a solo set of his own. What followed was one of the most experimental & brave gigs, I think I’ve ever seen anyone pull off. This was a family day in Maynooth but he sang ancient songs, he sang songs in Irish, he sang Sean Nos, he jumped from the bodhran, to the guitar, to piano seamlessly playing songs I imagine nobody knew but with sincerity that was captivating. He even read a poem that a Polish man had handed him, before he got on stage & managed to pull it all off. He was like the shaman of these ancient surrounding, you felt he was connected to everyone & everything. This was a small town festival & the big star turned up to play the gig of his life. I left which such a new found respect for a brilliant musician.



THE WALLS HAVE EARS – North Great Georges 10-09-15

Having spent a few nights in NCH, it was refreshing to return to street, where I frequented many a punk gig in the 90s. 13 North Great Georges street, a dilapidated Georgian building, was not too dissimilar to the “Sweat Box” of old. Beginning downstairs, with a haunting performance by Shane Latimer,The Walls Have Ears the room lit only by icicles of light, igniting & then slowly dying away. As each performance was approaching the end, the crowd were expertly guided around the dark empty house, to the next room & the next improvised performance.  Each set was enthralling though Dutch cellist, Ernst Reijseger stole the show with one of the most commanding performances I have ever witnessed. All the performers, which included the talented Seán Carpio, Seán Mac Erlaine and Justin Carroll assembled in the upstairs of this eerie venue for a spectacular finale which could have brought the house down, literally.