Idlewild live @the Button Factory 4th August 2022...

Idlewild were a band that could and should have been massive. They emerged in the mid-nineties at a time when guitar-heavy, alternative rock music was enjoying considerable success, with a slew of bands of that ilk breaking into the mainstream charts. Debut album ‘Captain’ and follow up ‘Hope is Important’ marked them out as ones to watch but it was their stunning third album ‘100 Broken Windows’, released in 2000 that really announced them as contenders. They had all the ingredients – it was all there, but somehow, major success eluded them.  Their fourth album, ‘The Remote Part’ was the one; the record that should have been their big breakthrough album but despite glowing reviews, it didn’t move them to the next level. Tonight at the Button Factory, we are here for the 20th Anniversary of ‘The Remote Part’. It is close to a capacity crowd; this is the first time Idlewild have visited Dublin since 2003, when they played the Ambassador Theatre. I was fortunate enough to have seen them that night and have been eagerly looking forward to this one for ages. They take the stage and launch straight into ‘You Held the World In Your Hands’, the first track on the album, and a near perfect opener in a live context. Immediately you know it is going to be a special night. The sound is loud, powerful, driven, with Roddy Woomble’s voice occasionally struggling to be heard over the furious maelstrom of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, but that doesn’t really matter – the overall impact is immense. They play the album in sequence; Woomble is a self-effacing, humble presence on stage – he introduces the songs, throwing in the occasional humorous comment, and seems to be enjoying the obvious warmth...

Pixies live @ the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 16th July 2022...

The vibes are good on a balmy evening at Dublin’s best outdoor concert venue. It’s a predominantly middle-aged audience that have gathered to witness the return of 90s indie rock kingpins Pixies. That said, the younger generation are also well represented; there are even some families with young children dotted amongst the audience. Every show I have attended at the Iveagh Gardens has been top class – as a city centre venue, it is easy to get to, onsite facilities are good, there are no lengthy queues for the bar & the sound is usually excellent. Pixies take the stage with little or no fanfare at close to 8.30pm; there is no build-up, no pomp & ceremony – they amble on, strap on their instruments, and away we go. What follows is a breathless, rollercoaster ride of 39 songs spanning their complete back catalogue in just over two hours; there is no between-song banter, no patronising platitudes – it is all about the music. ‘Cactus’ is a somewhat unusual opener but by the time we get to song three,  the crowd pleaser that is ‘Here Comes Your Man’, Black Francis & his gang have the crowd eating out of their hands. It is difficult to pick out highlights – they give the crowd exactly what they want and then some; signature tunes like ‘Debaser’, ‘Gigantic’ & ‘Wave of Mutilation’ blend seamlessly with new material (Human Crime, There’s A Moon On) cover versions, (Winterlong, Head On) and some of their earliest recorded works (Caribou, Nimrod’s Son). I know a lot of early Pixies fans fell out of love with the band when Kim Deal left. It has to be said, Paz Lenchantin is a very able replacement, handling vocal and bass duties with aplomb. Joey...

Ye Vagabonds live @ Grand Social, Dublin, December 2nd 2015...

Pat Barrett witnesses magic – his review of Ye Vagabonds at the Grand Social, Dublin.

All Our Lives Spent Underground: Dublin’s finest music venue remembered Nov27

All Our Lives Spent Underground: Dublin’s finest music venue remembered...

Memories of Dublin’s finest music venue, The Underground Bar on Dame Street.

Heartworm – the Novel Nov12

Heartworm – the Novel...

We have three copies of Ben Vendetta’s fantastic second novel ‘Heartworm’ to give away. Ben was in Dublin recently to launch the book at the Garage Bar on what proved to be a wonderful evening.  To be in with a chance of winning a copy of the novel, leave a comment below.  It can be a few thoughts on the album ‘Heartworm’ by Whipping Boy; any recollections or anecdotes relating to the album, abuse or praise, your favourite song from the record, anything you like. The authors of our three favourite comments will receive a signed paperback copy of the book. Closing date is 9pm GMT Monday 16 November 2015. Winners will be notified by email, so make sure you leave a valid email address. More about Ben Vendetta Ben Vendetta has been writing about rock and roll for his entire adult life for a number of publications, including The Big Takeover and Skyscraper. He published Vendetta Magazine from 1995 to 2002 and was the director of publicity at Dionysus Records before co-founding independent record label, Elephant Stone Records, with his wife Arabella Proffer-Vendetta. He’s also a serious Masters Division runner. He has written two novels: Wivenhoe Park (Cooperative Trade, 2013) and Heartworm (Cooperative Trade, Oct. 2015). The Novel ‘Heartworm’ Britpop, booze, cults, and a questionable Chinese restaurant bar? It’s 1995 and small-time music critic Drew has a desire for destruction. While championing an underdog Irish band, Whipping Boy, he embarks on a voyage of sex and drugs from Boston to Belfast while burying memories of his estranged wife – who is now in danger. His life was once saved by rock ‘n’ roll, but it may be too late for redemption in the last days of the music industry before the bubble bursts. Whether dropped by your record label or...

Metz live @ Whelans, Dublin 6 November 2015...

Rock music is in safe hands while bands like Toronto trio Metz exist; their brand of blitzkrieg punk noise is a refreshing reminder of why we once fell in love with rock music in the first place. At Whelan’s on Friday night, they stirred the mosh pit into action before they even took to the stage – a guitar line check was enough to set the kids at the front of the stage off and running. Metz are straight out of the garage – no pretence, no torturous self regard, just balls out, scorching guitar music with its roots in punk and hardcore. They are a one trick pony, but by God, that one trick is pretty special. Opening with ‘Headache’ from their self-titled debut, they screamed through the first four songs like they had a plane to catch, a blur of thunderous drums and distorted guitars before ‘Spit You Out’, a highlight from their recently released sophomore effort took things to a different level. The recent album is a sharper, more dynamic attack than their debut, balancing the extreme noise with a growing appreciation for pop hooks and melody; their most recent songs were undoubtedly the standout performances on the night. Even a couple of technical issues that resulted in lengthy delays between songs failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd – their best song by some distance ‘Acetate’ drew a huge reaction and a cover of the Damned’s ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ had the more grizzled members of the audience nodding their heads in approval. They closed the set with fan favourite ‘Wet Blanket’ after just over an hour of scintillating, white hot, guitar noise that left the predominantly youthful audience aglow. For those of us who don’t get out much anymore and probably spend far too many Friday nights...

Sufjan Stevens live @The Helix, Dublin 29 Aug 2015...

A very special night in the company of the wonderful Sufjan Stevens.

The Human League live @ Dublin 13 Aug 2015...

Eighties pop icons the Human League deliver a night of perfect pop nostalgia in the final gig of the Bulmers Live at Leopardstown series.

The Frames Live @The Marquee, Cork 11 July 2015...

Our man in Cork, Anthony Kelly, witnesses one of Ireland’s most popular rock bands celebrate 25 years of making music.

The Twilight Sad Live @ Whelans, Dublin 2nd May 2015...

Scottish outfit The Twilight Sad rolled into town last Saturday to present their own brand of Post Punk miserabilia before a Dublin audience for the first time since 2013. The weather gods could not have chosen a more fitting headline act – the relentlessly gloomy weather seemed rather apt for a band that cite ‘drinking and making miserable music’ as their most enjoyable pursuits on their Twitter bio. Though not a full house, a very respectable crowd turned up at Whelan’s to pay homage – with four very fine albums behind them since forming in 2003, the Twilight Sad are beginning to build up a dedicated live following. Opening with ‘There’s A Girl in The Corner’ from their most recent record, the broodingly powerful ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave’,  The Twilight Sad delivered a tight and powerful set, drawing mainly from their new album, but containing a liberal sprinkling of material stretching back to their 2007 debut. Singer James Alexander Graham’s compelling if slightly contrived stage presence provided the main focal point as the band whipped up an impressive maelstrom of Post Punk noise before a very receptive Dublin audience. Graham was moved to remark that the show was ‘exactly what the band needed at this point’ in what seems like a long and arduous tour. The set was well paced, with no discernible lulls and plenty of highlights – ‘Last January’, ‘I Became A Prostitute’ and ‘The Wrong Car’ all raised the roof but it was the trio of songs from their debut album ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’ that turned out to be the big winners on the night. These three songs proved to be the most dramatic and dynamic songs in the set, with Graham’s voice showcased at its...