My City in Music – Dublin
The vibe in Dublin city at the moment is this
No, not the naked women, I mean the tune Heavy on My Mind by The Hot Sprockets being the vibe. Speaking of this tune and that guitar at the 2:40 mark for a minute, PHWOAR! For me, this one and the band’s sound sums up the vibe of Dublin city at the moment alright.
The Dubs along with the rest of the country have suffered a mother of a recessional hangover for 6/7 years following the all-nighter of a Celtic Tiger party that went on for years before. While the country is now officially out of recession it will be quite some time before our bank accounts for the majority of us will reflect that fact. Money didn’t suit us apparently. Like teenagers given too much freedom too late in the day we didn’t know how to handle it during the Tiger and ended up becoming knobs with too much cash. I went to see Tommy Tiernan’s Crooked Man during the downturn to cheer myself up and here’s a clip of When Irish People Had Money from that show which still cracks me up to this day about skiing in ALDI skiing gear http://youtu.be/EUo93Hw7LSw
We had our annual government budget announcement recently and I was delighted to find out that I am being awarded another five euro a month in my mickey money (our slang for children’s allowance). Five euro! I can literally wipe my backside with that as apart from bog roll there is not much else I can purchase with five euro in this country but hey, “feck it, sure it’ll be grand” because recover from this blasted recession we will. Why so? Well, the banter never stopped flowing in the city and the slagging never died and those two things always make for great craic even if you can only afford to go out on the sniff of a pint of Guinness.
While I am smashed now and weary from riding the shit storm we were plummeted into by our bankers and government, I was fortunate enough not to have blown whatever few bob I had gathered during the Tiger. The fact I hadn’t blown it (as I was about to) was down to sheer luck and not through some shrewd financial sense. Therefore, I had enough to see me through and to get me out and about in Dublin more than a handful of times during the tough times.
Thankfully two departments kept the city going, the young foreign professionals and this city’s love for great music and much wow gigs. Hats off to the foreigners it has to be said. They kept the bars full, the tills opening and closing and the craic going and only for them we would have been faced with closed premises, boarded up shop fronts and empty, soulless streets.
Listening to The Hot Sprockets’ new album Brother Nature is gold and like listening to one of the finest blues rock and rock ‘n roll sound out there at the moment. They’ve got so much talent in their little fingers I bought their nine euro album and will supplement my spend with my mickey money increase when it becomes available to me. See? There’s always a way.
The Hot Sprockets play Dublin’s Vicar Street 21st December which I reckon will be a rip roaring of a gig from the reviews I have read of the band so far and the sound of their album. It’s gigs like theirs that bring moral up, the cranky mood out and wallops the backside off it before sending it right across the room and smack bang into the path of the throbbing amps before exploding to nothingness.
I feel where the Hot Sprockets are at the end of the recession is where the The Coronas were at the beginning of it. I first went to see The Coronas play in the marquee at Marlay Park. We had been bombarded for a while with news of job losses, a collapsing financial market, a property crisis and a glum future. Whilst the women I had come to the gig with were fighting with security on the length of the queues into the womens’ toilets after being caught trying to hop a fence (one even feigned she had a urinary catheter that needed draining, I kid you not!) I was busy taking in the crowds that thronged the park that day. It was buzzing and hopping with excitement and laughter. The relief from the pressures of what was possibly waiting for us all when we got back to work Monday morning was gone. That was down to music and when The Coronas came on stage they were electric and their performance is still to this day one of the best live performances I have ever witnessed. Their energy and optimism was a welcome relief and I went to see them twice more following that day in Marlay Park.
Now at the other end of the recession, The Hot Sprockets I believe will have the same expression and connection with their audience on December 21st and will set a great big ball of fire alight in that room, burning the cobwebs off any ear drums that need it particularly when they belt out Soul Brother, Show Me the Weight and Boogie Woogie. Actually, they’ll tear through the roof of Vicar Street no doubt.
I started writing up this article a while ago but got side tracked with work and upon resuming it today I laughed when I read an interview Ed Power for the Sunday Times did with The Coronas. They have a new album The Long Way due for release 21st Nov (IRL) and 24th Nov (UK) and here is their fabulous new single Just Like That: http://youtu.be/ZSRVDMO0Bmg
In the Irish Times interview you can see that honest spirit of Dublin, the craic, the ‘shlagging’ and most importantly the not taking ourselves too seriously charm. Here’s a quote from Mr. Power’s piece:
Early on, certainly, nothing came easy. “I [Danny O’Reilly] remember one show we did at Whelan’s, where three girls showed up. Ireland were playing France in a football match and everyone was watching that. Halfway through, I gestured to the rest of the guys – they went off and caught the end of the game and I finished the performance solo. Every so often one would poke their head out and say ‘It’s still nil-all.’”
Rock ‘n roll has always been very much appreciated by this city throughout the years and other Dublin bands currently doing great stuff are The Minutes (rock ‘n roll), The Riptide Movement (rock), Darling (pop/rock), Otherkin (alternative rock), The Raglans (indie rock/pop) and Swords (indie rock).
However, the band that is standing out for me at the moment is Red Empire (indie rock). The quality of what they have put out there so far is incredible from their musical composition and play, to their lyrics, from the outstanding quality of their visuals, to their overall production. They, are a band to watch out for in the future. Reading online I see that they have completed their EP ‘Deliver Me’ which is due for release February 2015. They have also recently finished their debut album and to see what the fuss is about take a look at their two single releases this year “Small Mercies” http://youtu.be/gUYsnUgoBGU and “The Truth Of You” http://youtu.be/uSEe2z9b-m4 The latter for me has a Pure Morning by Placebo sound to it which I love.
So that’s just some of the rock styles hitting our streets at the moment. We have always kept an ear open to music coming from the States and the UK and have obviously been influenced by it. Rock features big time here and always has done. We do have pockets of Dublin though that love their R&B, Hip Hop, Punk, Electronic and Classical to name but a few and the city is buzzing with a love for an eclectic mix of all musical genres. Our plethora of pubs, wine and cocktail bars are full of music and it is true that if you trip up coming out of a pub in Dublin you would bang your nose off the front step of the next one.
Busking on Dublin’s streets has been a long standing tradition and has kick started some fine careers for artists in the past (like Glen Hansard from The Frames) and present (like the Riptide Movement) and I’m sure will do the same for someone in the future also. If you are in the UK and fancy popping over for a stint of busking on Grafton Street sometime give Music Eyz a shout and I will be happy to look into it for you. I will even go so far as to throw the first euro into your cap to kick start your millions.
To go out in Dublin is great fun. Fashion is a ‘take it or leave it’ sort of thing. We’re more into the chat and the tunes and you can either be fashionable about it or not. We don’t care what you spend your money on. It’s not about who you are it is more about what you are saying that grabs our attention and keeps hold of it.
I’m going to finish up this article with a piece on a barber shop in Dublin that in my mind is the very essence of how we feel about music in this city and how we encourage it even if we do slag out of endearment, homegrown musical talent. Abner Browns is to me personification of the heart and soul of Dublin’s love for music. It is a smile on your face, twinkle in your eye sort of a place that offers a stage for new artists to showcase their stuff to music lovers. The concept of Abner Browns to me is one of great admiration for the musical talent that lies at the very core of Dublin’s heart.
By Nicola Timmons