Stevie G: Best Cork gigs? Here’s my choice

What's been your best gig ever here in Cork? In his weekly column in Downtown, Stevie G tells us his favourites
Stevie G: Best Cork gigs? Here’s my choice
Coronas playing Live At The Marquee

THIS summer’s gig programme in Cork is obviously on hold, but what has been your best ever gig here? Let’s start with the big ones. Michael Jackson and Prince played here at high points in their careers, while other Páirc Uí Chaoimh shows over the years featured the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Oasis and regular visitors U2, who played in Cork many times from their early days.

The Páirc also hosted Féile 95, which only moved to Cork due to some last minute hiccups elsewhere, and which sadly wasn’t as well attended as the line-up deserved.

The Stone Roses, The Prodigy, Orbital, Kylie, Moby and many more took to the main stage, while the dance tent memorably hosted Massive Attack, Carl Cox, Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Laurent Garnier and Andrew Weatherall. For lots of people this was a defining weekend in Cork, and the sun was out too, plus the after parties in the likes of Sir Henrys were legendary.

Before my time there were many legendary gigs in venues such as The Savoy, City Hall, and Connolly Hall too. The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, The Specials, Madness, New Order and The Smiths were just a few of the great acts who played here in the 70s and 80s, and I’m sure there were tons more too.

By the time I was old enough to go to gigs we had local heroes such as the Frank and Walters and the Sultans of Ping playing all over Cork, while Bjork, Primal Scream, Mercury Rev, Tindersticks, My Bloody Valentine, Tortoise and others visited too.

The Sultans of Ping live on stage at The Savoy, Cork  in 2005.Picture; Larry Cummins
The Sultans of Ping live on stage at The Savoy, Cork  in 2005.Picture; Larry Cummins

That time when the Sultans and Franks burst on the scene coincided with my own initial forays into heading out, and it was definitely a magical time for gigs in Cork, with other local groups such as Emperors of Ice Cream and Collapse doing some great shows too.

The dance scene was getting established in Sir Henrys during those years and you often had a case where the Thursday and Saturday was packed with Sweat over a few rooms, while live gigs and indie discos dominated Wednesdays and Fridays.

I missed it, but one of my favourite bands, Sonic Youth passed through in the early 90s too, supported famously by Nirvana.

The house and hip-hop scenes of the 90s were more dominated by the resident DJs than guests, though many famous DJs passed through too, many well before they became famous elsewhere.

Kanye West on stage in the Marquee in Cork, 2006. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Kanye West on stage in the Marquee in Cork, 2006. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

But when it came to live hip-hop you’d have to say the following decade was where it started becoming regular here. Between the Marquee and the Savoy (and a few other places), Cork hosted Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Run DMC, De la Soul, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambattaa, Jungle Brothers, Pharcyde, Wu Tang Clan and many many more of the biggest hitters in rap.

The Marquee series brought things to a new level really as Cork regularly hosted some of music biggest names. Al Green, Bob Dylan, Kraftwerk, Paul Simon, Slayer, Chic, Diana Ross, The Who, Brian Wilson, Neil Young and many more came through, and it wasn’t just heritage acts either.

Lady Gaga on the stage at Live at the Marquee in Cork  in 2009. Picture: Miki Barlok
Lady Gaga on the stage at Live at the Marquee in Cork  in 2009. Picture: Miki Barlok

Lady Gaga, Ne-yo, Lana Del Rey and some of the aforementioned rappers came through as their careers were just peaking, and the Marquee certainly helped put Cork on the map as a gig destination.

The Musgrave Park gig series is doing the same, but unfortunately this too is on hold until next year.

Music taste is very subjective and in Cork many will probably point to one of their own favourite shows in a smaller venue like The Lobby or De Barras, or a venue like the Everyman or the Opera House.

Many of my own favourites were at the Cork Jazz Festival, where I saw world class acts such as Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, EST, Sly and Robbie and McCoy Tyner, in a wide variety of venues over a number of years.

At full tilt, the old Pav, The Everyman and the Cork Opera House, are hard to beat, but even now we have Coughlans, Cyprus Avenue, The Roundy and many other great venues to see live performances. We all have our own favourites but as we reflect on the gigs of the past during these quieter times, we can only hope that Cork’s best days as a musical destination are still ahead of us, and that we will be back going to gigs very soon.

More in this section

Sponsored Content