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.
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.
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.
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.
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.