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What's On Live
Brian Deady.
Brian Deady.

Great events to look forward to 2019

NEXT YEAR is already starting to look like an exceptionally busy one gig-wise, and there is good reason to put your Christmas gift of a diary to good use as we’ve got dates a plenty for you to mark down. A lot of the excitement stems from the long awaited redevelopment of Cyprus Avenue on Caroline Street. The venue has hosted some legendary gigs but many a packed sold-out gig was accompanied by grumbling about poor sight lines and personal discomfort. That is set to be a thing of the past as a new era is ushered in at the Caroline Street venue thanks to its expanded capacity, now reputed to be around the 500 mark, and its now less claustrophobic raised ceiling.

Perhaps it can prove that what Cork was crying out for was not an events centre but a comfortable medium sized venue. Therefore we begin our look ahead at Cyprus Avenue.

Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown of White Lies.
Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown of White Lies.

Start off the year with a smile on your face on Thursday, February 7, when Evan Dando’s Lemonheads make a long-awaited return to Cork. Indeed it has been over a decade since Dando made a solo appearance here and before that, in 2007, The Lemonheads appeared at the Savoy where they played a set that leaned heavily on their ’90s albums, particularly their breakthrough album It’s a Shame About Ray.

The band’s last album was the charming Varshons, a covers record that saw the band take on Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt (predictably) and less obviously GG Allin. After a quiet decade out of the spotlight, apart from the release of a demo and a sessions album, The Lemonheads return with Varshons II, which features interpretations of tracks by John Prine, Nick Cave, Paul Westerberg, and Yo La Tengo.

More journeys down memory lane and homecomings continue on Tuesday, February 19, when Cork’s Microdisney perform their last gigs ever, no, really! As a result of the success of their National Concert Hall recreation of their 1985 album The Clock Comes Down the Stairs they have brought the show down south. The last time Microdisney played Cork, Sir Henry’s was still a rock bar, so the clock has come down a lot of stairs, but the rapturous reception accorded to them at their NCH dates suggests they still have things to say.

Wild Youth.Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Wild Youth.
Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Currently worming their way into the nations ears courtesy of a house party set mobile ad, Wild Youth play Cyprus Avenue on the eve of St Patrick’s Day. Their all conquering third single Can’t Move On is one slithery creature that our patron saint will never hope to banish from our ears.

York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich returns to Cyprus Avenue on Friday, March 22, with a new single under his arm and more than likely a new album. The ‘Box of Stones’ and ‘Atlas Hands’ singer’s new single, ‘Gratitude’, follows the same emotionally rich and world-wise terrain of his previous offerings.

Those seeking more raucous rock sounds will welcome the return of regular visitors and Northern Ireland’s finest rockers Therapy? On March 23. London’s White Lies are another outfit with a new album to promote. The post-punk trio release their fifth album, imaginatively titled Five. Recent single ‘Believe It’ shows off their love of ’80s style synth sounds. The March 27 gig also marks their first Cork city appearance since they played the Opera House in 2009, back during the heady days of their debut album To Lose My Life.

Pointedly aware of the dearth of Irish dates over the years, the band commented: “We are delighted to announce these shows despite not playing in Ireland for some years our Irish fans support has never faltered, and we look forward to some great shows and traditional Irish hospitality.”

White Lies or Blarney, anyone?

Surfing and, let’s not forget, preceding the current wave in Irish hip-hop is Maverick Sabre who plays on March 27 — but the extraordinary hip-hop gig to look forward to is GZA, The Genius, on Friday April 5. A founder member of the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, GZA’s more introverted personality might have earned him less notice than his more self-assured Clan mates but GZA’s opening brace of albums, Liquid Swords and Beneath the Surface (20 years old next year) marked him out as the master MC.

Over at the Opera House, the hugely popular John Grant, much cherished for the flamboyance and raw honesty of his songs, makes his third return to the venue on Tuesday, March 28. The cult singer unleashed his barely-hidden love of synth sounds on his most recent LP, Love is Magic.

Frontman Paul Noonan from Bell X1. Pic Darragh Kane
Frontman Paul Noonan from Bell X1. 
Pic Darragh Kane

Meanwhile up on the north side of the city, Live at St Luke’s have announced a great programme of acts. Bell X1 celebrate 21 years together with two special performances when they play two special already sold-out “acoustic-ish” gigs accompanied by their innovative string arranger Dowry on Saturday and Sunday, February 23 and 24.

Also playing double dates in the church venue is West Cork nu-wop crooner Brian Deady who will be treating us to his recent album Black Diamond on Friday and Saturday March 1 and 2. And naturally a visit to the church will be in order for Patrick’s Day when ‘Dublin folk miscreants’ Lankum will deliver their punk trad gospel in the presence of Cork’s patron saint of folk Jimmy McCarthy.