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What's On Live
Lauryn Hill, one of the most important artists of the past 30 years, is playing in Cork on Wednesday.
Lauryn Hill, one of the most important artists of the past 30 years, is playing in Cork on Wednesday.
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Stevie G: Cork is on song this weekend

This is one of the biggest weekends of the year in Cork City. With massive gigs in Musgrave Park and Live at the Marquee, plus the Cork Midsummer Festival, Cork will be hopping.

Live at the Marquee has been staging gigs since June 8, but this weekend it hosts two of the shows more likely to appeal some of my readers here. Aiken promotions used to bring the best hip-hop talent in the world to Cork, but it’s a long time now since Kanye West, Jay Z, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg played here.

The hip-hop climate has changed greatly in 10 years, and most of the current crop of big artists are busy on the festival circuit anyway, so it might be tougher to get them to come to Cork. In that 10 years, though, there have been dramatic improvements for domestic acts, and now Irish acts are as popular here as international ones.

Versatile sold out their Live at the Marquee gig in minutes and it’s hard to think of too many big international acts who would have done so faster. This is one of the biggest shows in Cork this summer and the Marquee will be stuffed Friday night.

Versatile’s rise has been fairly rapid, and though they are technically hip-hop, they are just as likely to appeal to dance fans. It’s got a bit of novelty appeal, to be fair, and it’s not an act I’d compare to some of the other Irish big hitters, such as Jafaris, Rejjie Snow, Kojaque, Soule, and Rusangano Family. Versatile could easily have sold out two shows here, though, and there’s not many acts you could say that about. Both Cyprus Avenue and Dali have parties afterwards, with Xero and Mona Lxsa spinning in Cyprus, while the Cutting Heads collective take over Dali, with Jus Me and Rostah.

Saturday is big at the Marquee. The one-day event is a house gig, with Gorgon City and Sonny Fodera being joined by Route 94 and Waze and Odyssey (replacing Duke Dumont). Most of these acts are familiar to Cork clubbers, but having them on one show together makes an enticing prospect, and, again, it’s good to have more dance and electronic acts at the Marquee, which is aimed more at the older crowd.

Again, the kick-on from this event should help liven up the city afterwards, and there’s already lots on in Cork this weekend, including Taboo, in Dali, with Kidjack, while Route 94 themselves play late night in Cyprus, too.

The Musgrave Park series of gigs is gonna really ramp-up things in Cork this week. Starting last Thursday, with George Ezra, Cork will also host Liam Gallagher and Hozier in the next seven days, which will further consolidate the buzz around the place. Again, the one that should interest my regular readers is the Lauryn Hill show, next Wednesday. The legendary soul and R&B singer is one of the most important artists of the last 30 years, and though her peak only lasted a few years, her legacy remains very important.

When Hill initially emerged, with the Fugees, she was already being encouraged to go solo, but their mega-selling album, The Score, was a big riposte to their critics. Her own relationship with Wyclef, in particular, broke down, and after she became a mother, her eagerly awaited solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was created against a different backdrop. Even then, Hill was uncomfortable with the music industry, and particularly didn’t enjoy being pressurised to look or sound a certain way. The solo album was massively popular and the world embraced her vision, but subsequently failed to understand that she wanted to go a different path.

Hill remains a misunderstood artist, but a great one, and her show in Dublin in November was excellent. Let’s hope she brings the good vibes to Cork next Wednesday. Our Old School party will be hosting an after-show in Cyprus Avenue and the Hot Sauce dance crew will be joining myself and Ciara Ryan, once again.

Finally, don’t forget the Cork Midsummer Festival, in particular the visit of last week’s guest, Linton Kwesi Johnson, who reads in Live at St Luke’s tomorrow evening, as part of Crosstown Drift.