Desperate for live music in Cork? Well, check out these upcoming concerts

As the city’s live music scene looks toward its reopening in earnest on October 22nd - subject to change - Downtown casts an eye over Cork’s venue situation in the immediate future, and rounds up selected highlights for gig-goers.
Desperate for live music in Cork? Well, check out these upcoming concerts

Wyvern Lingo: About to play Cork. Picture: Miguel Ruiz.

THE BRÚ, McCURTAIN STREET

Having stayed shy of live music over the course of reopening - bar some informal entertainment from resident singer-songwriter Míde Houlihan around closing time - McCurtain Street’s hostel/venue has begun playing host to DJ sets from veteran selector JusMe and various guests of his, staying rooted in hip-hop and adjacent genres.

  • MUST SEE: Say hello to DJ JusMe and guests from Ireland’s tight-knit hip-hop scene every Friday night at the hostel’s bar.

CONNOLLY’S OF LEAP, WEST CORK

Beyond the Leap, beyond the law, went the old adage, but for the McNicholl family’s magical venue, it was strictly safety throughout lockdown with streaming shows, and limited-capacity affairs as society began to reopen. A stellar cast of musicians and DJs will go under the venue’s famous hammers this autumn, including sold-out gigs from CMAT, plus Paul Brady and Wyvern Lingo.

  • MUST SEE: Hailing from Bray and taking on the world via Berlin, R&B trio Wyvern Lingo fuse rock and soul influences together seamlessly - and have reaped the critical rewards, including a Choice Prize nomination. Catch them on November 26.

CORK OPERA HOUSE, EMMET PLACE

The site of one of the Government’s test shows during the summer, examining the limits of a classical gig just before vaccination ramped up, the Opera House is set to resume its programme of crowd-pleasers and big names right in time for the Jazz weekend, including Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill in a collaborative gig on October 22, DJ Jenny Greene on October 23, and Waterford festival faves King Kong Company in a late gig on October 24.

  • MUST SEE: Villagers come to town on November 2 to promote new album Fever Dream; Andy Irvine & Paul Brady are accompanied by Dónal Lunny and Kevin Burke on January 24, 2022; progressive rockers Yes perform seventh album Relayer in its entirety on June 29, 2022.

 Andy Irvine: Plays Cork in January.
Andy Irvine: Plays Cork in January.

COUGHLAN’S LIVE, DOUGLAS STREET

The Douglas Street folk outpost has been more than busy over the course of its Covid times, playing host to streaming and limited-capacity gigs across two stages, including a purpose-built outdoor stage in its former beer garden. They’ve also just finished up the Great Beyond festival in Kinsale, and are now looking toward a busy time in the coming months.

  • MUST SEE: As a full-time singer-songwriter, John Blek felt the sting of the Covid venues closures keenly - his return gigs to Coughlan’s on February 3 and 4 2022 will be emotional affairs to say the least.

 John Blek plays Cork in February. Picture: Barra Vernon
John Blek plays Cork in February. Picture: Barra Vernon

CRANE LANE THEATRE, PHOENIX STREET

Broadening its offering from a distinctly alternative venue in recent years, the newly-refitted Crane Lane Theatre now comes with seated booths to suit groups booking in on a post-Covid basis. Jazz, folk and blues look set to be the order of the day, though veteran Cork groups like the Grunts and Pontious Pilate and the Naildrivers have been part of the venue’s streaming offering over lockdown.

  • MUST SEE: Keep an eye on the venue’s Facebook and YouTube for word of short-notice gigs, both live in person and streaming via said channels.

CYPRUS AVENUE and THE OLD OAK, CAROLINE STREET

Going from two long-running stages to adding a possible fourth on its rooftop, as well as running a café in its newly-expanded premises, Cyprus Avenue has put forth serious money and effort into providing an anchor venue complex for the city, and kept things running over Covid, providing working hours for crew and gigs for artists. With Winthrop Avenue providing a small-stage way into the main venue’s regular rotation for new artists, expect the Caroline Street complex to be even more important to the city’s scene in the coming years.

The Altered Hours: October show.
The Altered Hours: October show.

DALI, CORK CITY

As confirmed by venue co-proprietor Hope Alo in an interview with the Echo this week, the heads behind the Dali spaces in Cork City over the past few years are in search of a new home following their exit from their Carey’s Lane venue over the course of the Covid crisis. We’ll no doubt hear from the Cork techno stronghold in due course, and as things come together for their new projects.

  • MUST SEE: Dali’s social media presences, for more information as it arises.

DEBARRA’S OF CLONAKILTY, WEST CORK

Another outpost for folk in Cork, DeBarra’s has kept busy with streaming gigs and the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, which happened online last year, and is underway as a mixed-medium affair as this hits the shelves, veering from old-school axe virtuosos to all manner of noise and collaborations.

  • MUST SEE: Outside of the Guitar Fest events yet to sell out at time of writing: tickets for Galway dream-poppers Newdad tomorrow night, and fellow Tribeswoman Niamh Regan on November 14 are sure to go quickly.

FRED ZEPPELIN’S, PARLIAMENT STREET

For over two decades, the undisputed heavyweight champion of Cork rock venues, Fredz is reopening on October 22, following proprietor Tom Keating’s decision to stay closed and avoid serving up what he would call ‘Fredz lite’. The gig calendar is going to fill up quickly at the Parliament Street venue in particular, as metal, punk, hardcore and electronic scenes are going to jonesing for a bit of live action.

  • MUST SEE: Cork hardcore outfit WORN OUT return on November 13, headlining the launch of drummer Evan Prendergast’s new Dead Cult Promotions banner, alongside Dublin outfits Bitter Pill and Lost to Life, as well as Cork/Galway proggers Aponym.

Worn Out: November gig.
Worn Out: November gig.

THE KINO, WASHINGTON STREET

Left in limbo after The Good Room promotions house withdrew earlier this year, The Kino on Washington Street has fallen into new management yet again, with plans for daytime coffee and non-traditional gigs among the planned offerings at the former arthouse cinema. It’s an ambitious goal, but venue heads say the plan is to prove there’s a market for a space of its ilk in the city, and keep the long-running venue out of the ongoing property gold-rush.

  • MUST SEE: The Kino’s social pages, for more info on upcoming events.

LEVIS’ OF BALLYDEHOB, WEST CORK

Following a packed schedule of outdoor gigs funded by the Live Performance Support Scheme, the Corner House in Ballydehob is slowly getting back to the business of its Over-the-Counter gigs. The home of the Secret Song festival, and proprietors of the Ballydehob Jazz Festival, the family-run venue looks set to spring back into action as restrictions ease.

  • MUST SEE: Keep an eye on Levis’ socials and website: leviscornerhouse.com

LIVE AT ST LUKE’S, ST LUKE’S CROSS

The sonic temple on St Luke’s Cross has been ready for action for a while now, between rescheduled dates of its own and gigs that had been moved from promoters The Good Room’s iteration of the Kino. Starting as it means to go on, there’s a strong lineup of Irish and international talent leading into next year to help line the pews.

  • MUST-SEE: American songwriter John Grant ought to make a majestic reopening headliner on October 12 and 13; Bell X1, accompanied by Dowry Strings, have a three-day residency from October 14-16; Northern folk duo Saint Sister play tunes from their new album on November 25.

John Grant Cork-bound in October. Picture: G. McDonnell/VIPIRELAND.COM
John Grant Cork-bound in October. Picture: G. McDonnell/VIPIRELAND.COM

THE PAVILION, CAREY’S LANE

Closing a €1.3million deal to buy out the Pavilion premises in June, publicans Benny and Leo McCabe have designs on restoring it to its 20th-century glory as a bar and cinema, specifically to add to the city’s offering for tourists and to complement new phenomena like outdoor dining. “I want it to be a fun place and I am hopeful that we’ll be in for The Jazz,” Benny McCabe told The Irish Examiner.

  • MUST-SEE: Stay tuned to Downtown in the Echo and EchoLive.ie for more information as it arises.

THE ROUNDY, QUEEN’S STREET

Following the end of Plugd Records’ Roundy residency amid the lockdown, and the subsequent success of weekend stalls at anarchist bookshop Rebel Reads, plans are underway for the next step in the life of a dearly-loved institution in Cork music. As for the upstairs venue itself, numerous local promoters have made inquiries, and gig announcements are sure to follow.

  • MUST SEE: Keep tabs on the Roundy’s social media for more information - and stay tuned to Alliance Promotions in particular regarding upcoming announcements.

THE SEA CHURCH, BALLYCOTTON, EAST CORK

One of the biggest local venue launches in recent memory, The Sea Church in Ballycotton still holds huge promise for the wider county’s cultural scene despite being affected by Covid before it could get into its groove. With a picturesque location and a multi-million euro fitout, don’t be surprised if this venue progresses beyond its current offering of sure things and homegrown veterans.

  • MUST SEE: Pop-rock crowdpleasers of the late eighties, Something Happens break out the hits on December 4; Clannad’s Moya Brennan plays a special Christmas gig on December 16.

 Moya Brennan plays December.
Moya Brennan plays December.

AN SPAILPÍN FÁNACH, NORTH MAIN STREET

A pre-pandemic home for a wide variety of music, from metal and math-rock gigs to drum ‘n’ bass nights, the top floor of the iconic North Main Street music pub is sure to be a well-contested spot for people looking to re-establish a place in the community for their projects. Prospective promoters will want their own PA, however.

  • MUST SEE: Trad sessions every Friday are the staple of the venue’s downstairs bar - and complement the atmosphere of this age-old venue perfectly.

TRISKEL ARTS CENTRE, TOBIN STREET

Having moved itself out of the community music space a number of years ago, the Triskel has mostly kept its date book full with classical and jazz offerings, alongside arthouse cinema - and the same was true over lockdown with their streaming offering. They’ve traditionally done residencies for cutting-edge jazz label ECM for Jazz Weekend, which looks set to continue this year.

  • MUST SEE: ECM Records’ Kit Downes leads his band into the Triskel to perform his ‘Dreamlife of Debris’ album on October 24.

WHITE HORSE, BALLINCOLLIG

Home of the Winter Music Festival in January, and a faithful outpost for folk and choral music alike thanks to its in-house groups, the White Horse is set to add music back to its reopening-era gastropub offering in earnest, with the Songlines run of gigs - dates unannounced as of time of writing - including Cathy Davey, Scullion and Rubyhorse, among others.

  • MUST SEE: Check the White Horse’s social media for more information.

All dates, times and information are accurate as of time of writing - follow individual venues on social media for real-time information and announcements.

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