So you’ve either hit the last week before Christmas without getting that important last gift that completes the jigsaw of presents, or we’re in the first week of January and you have to find something special to make up for that huge gifting mistake that caused all those embarrassing silences on Christmas morning. Have no fear, in the first three months of 2016 there’s a gig for everyone in the family. Here’s my guide of where you can send your nearest and dearest for a great night of entertainment.
Significant other (female)
The unmissable open goal of the bunch – a sure fire winner.. William McCarthy (playing all over Ireland, late Feb). Lead singer of the wonderful Augustines, this guy has everything. Breathtakingly wonderful songs, a powerful and affecting voice, soul by the bucket-load. He is also one of the most engaging and mesmerising live performers you will ever see – think Bruce Springsteen energy and enthusiasm, with warmth. Your better half will be so happy with you. The only downside is that she will probably fall in love with William, and the likelihood is that he will be happy to drink and talk and sing to the audience for as long as anyone is able to last the pace, so he could be on your sofa in the morning! Augustines in Whelans was a “top ten lifetime” gig for me. No other options need be considered.
Significant other (male)
Much, much trickier. I am going to suggest Foxes (Whelans late feb). This seems a mighty big performer to be playing a small intimate venue like Whelans. She has a captivating voice and writes accessible, but not shallow, songs. If she connects with the Whelans audience that will literally be in touching distance then this could be something really special (assuming there is not a late change to a bigger venue). He will fall in love with her – the upside is she is far too good for him! Other choices for him might be Suede (Olympia), Muse (3 Arena – probably already sold out, so you’re on Done Deal paying over the odds), Wolf Alice (Olympia). It all depends on his age and style.
Mum and Dad
There is a frightening array of the musically aged to choose from these days. Anyone who was anyone back in the day is out touring and playing the songs of yesterday to greater or (sadly often) lesser effect. Some of these are overhyped and overpriced (ELO 79-99 Euro! For Fuck’s Sake!!!!). So take the road less travelled to The Beat (Academy mid-March). OK, so we only have one original member here, but Rankin Roger gives his all as front man and his son backs him up stylishly. The band are tight accomplished musicians who are honoured to play the music. There were no better purveyors of intelligent, catchy pop songs in the early 80’s, and you’ll be surprised just how many you will know. Can’t recommend highly enough
They don’t want to be with the masses, slumming it at the 3 Arena with Adele, so I would suggest C Duncan (Whelans). Praised in many quarters for the 2015 album… the Guardian said “Hauntingly pretty, intricately arranged…Will blow you away with its awed atmosphere and reverential sense of rapture…Exquisite and unearthly.” This could be one of those nights when someone wonderful comes in to town and 15 people turn up (of whom 10 are friends of the support band and piss off home when they are done). It could also be one of those “I was there” gig moments to brag about in years to come. A calculated risk!!
They fill your life with smug commentary and play their music at max volume when you’re trying to chill. What they listen to just sounds angry. Fat White Family (Whelans late Feb) is the one for them. You know from the name there is going to be nothing subtle or sensitive here. Expect a full blown assault on the nervous system and a head ringing from the impact for days. The sound is a throwback to Punk and New Wave, and the live experience may well depend on what mood the band are in (and how much Guinness has been consumed). But this has so much more to offer than Slipknot.
They have everything they want in life – the complete Lord of the Rings/Hobbit box set (24 hour directors overload edition). They went to the 00.01 opening night showing of the Star Wars movie and texted you at huge length at 3am to explain all the continuity mistakes from each previous film (not only in chronological sequence, but also handily catalogued by character and planet). The only way to go is Shonen Knife (Whelans late spring). They have been around for ever; they are known by very few, but loved by an array of leading musical influencers; they are female; they are Japanese. I think that ticks just about every box here! As an alternative, try They Might Be Giants.
So there you have it. If you end up going to any of these, you may well see me there. I wish you all the best the Season has to offer. Take care xx