A night in Sarn Meyllteyrn

24 02 2011

Imagine the scene…

It’s a dark windy night and you’re in a Ford Fiesta making your way down the winding roads through Pen Llŷn ( the Llyn Peninsula). You drive through deserted villages where light pours out through bedroom windows as people shelter from the cold. Once you reach the next speed limit sign the streetlights are gone and you drive in complete darkness with only cat’s eyes in the road to guide you on your way.

You drive round a tight bend with a stone hump-bridge and then down a steep hill which curves into a hairpin bend, then back up a hill which takes you so high you can almost see Ireland. 

Finally you arrive at your destination, a bend in the road, and off it a road up a hill where you see a light shining at a doorway.  People loiter at the door of this pub in jovial spirits and they welcome you with thick North Walian accents. You walk inside to a room heaving with people and through to a back bar where people are dancing as if their life depended on it to this…

Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – Merch y Mynydd (Daughter of the Mountain)


Theatre outing take 2

29 09 2010

I’m a sucker for a freebie, so when I saw an offer for free tickets to a show at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival I added my details and thought nothing of it until two tickets to Circa at the Gaiety Theatre came through my letterbox.

I didn’t read anything about the show before I got to the theatre, mainly because I didn’t have time, but also because a bunch of film critics once said at a Q&A session I went to that you should never read a review before you go watch something. So with an open mind I took my seat in the packed out crowd and waited for the show to begin.

I don’t want to spoil it but Circa has to be the best show I’ve seen this year. The combination of circus skills, dance and gymnastics is one of the most thrilling spectacles you’ll ever see. The simplest of movements become elaborate sequences you can’t help but watch while complex contortions are so fluid they look like anyone could do them.

The show is full of humor and plenty of moments to make you wince – a sequence involving a pair of sparkly red high heels sticks out in my mind. Expressions of ‘Oh my God!’ and gasps can be heard throughout the theatre – testimony of how far these performers go in the name of entertainment.

But, what a show! And if the standing ovation from the audience is anything to go by I wasn’t the only one to be blown away.

(from gaietytheatre.ie)
If you want a memorable show that’s worth every cent then Circa is for you.
Circa runs from the 30th of September until the 3rd of October. Tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie or contact the Gaiety Theatre on 01 677 1717

Launching the Fringe

17 08 2010

I’m very excited about the 16th Dublin Fringe Festival – ABSOLUT Fringe. I went to the festival programme launch last night and got a chance to meet some of the performers, including a friend I have not seen for 2 years.  It was a lovely evening with lots of vodka and colourfully creative people in a room which looked like a school disco (retro).

This year’s ABSOLUT Fringe offers 460 performances in 40 venues across Dublin and a common thread running through this year’s festival is what brings people together and how it defines them.  A major highlight of the festival will be Ponydance, the comedy dance troupe who will surprise onlookers with pop-up FREE performances in 15 random public random locations such as streets, bars, offices

As well as some of the shows I think I’ll be hitting the festival club, because my experience of them at other festivals has always been full of fun. I’m intrigued by installation which will be on the River Liffey, so I will have to jump on my bike to take a look.

Of course the Festival will, as usual, provoke, amuse, astound, enrage, inspire, entertain and I can’t wait!

**I have to give the website a big thumbs up (www.fringefest.com), I know I’ll be spending time on there picking out a few shows I want to see.**

Gimme Shelter

22 07 2010

In a past life I used to write gig reviews for a music website as a way to get into things for free. I saw lots of great musicians, sometimes met them and occasionally got free drink and all I had to do was write a few hundred words about it. (I was always honest – nobody can bribe this Cailín.)

As I mentioned previously in Music in the Rain,  I went to see Paloma Faith in Iveagh Gardens. I bought the tickets in advance as I knew her last show sold out and I didn’t want to be disappointed. However, I didn’t realise that the gig was an open air one (I should read things properly for a change) and was told no umbrellas would be allowed.

When I got there it began to rain so I put on my rain jacket and my friend and I stood under trees to keep dry. That’s when I heard the laughing. From a tent in the corner of the field the sound of people having a great old time was easily heard…well it’s hard ignore a woman who laughs like a Banshee.

We left the glum looking middle age couples in cagouls who were trying to keep warm and dry under trees which were next to some rotten smelling portaloos, and decided to go and investigate this mystical place of fun and frivolity. But, no…at the entrance to the canvas tent we were told we needed some special wristbands to gain access and so we were denied.

As I said, I’ve been on the other side of the fence drinking free beer and getting to know the other VIPs who have a tendency to talk loudly just to make sure they’re heard, but I’ve never been privilege to this kind of elitism – what I mean is, if you’re special then you get to stay dry. I am pretty disgusted that people who paid at least €35 a ticket had no form of shelter. Even the bar was open to the elements so you couldn’t even enjoy your drink, which you paid €5 for, without getting wet. C’mon people, how hard is it to put one more marquee up for the people who pay good money to see the show?

So we had to stand, in the rain and watch as trays filled with  a particular brand of larger were given out to these Very Important People and I sought solace in my wine which I was drinking out of the mini plastic bottle it came in so the rain wouldn’t water it down. As you can imagine, this was not a high point in my life.

Music in the rain

16 07 2010

REVIEW – Candi Staton & Paloma Faith @ Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. 15/7/2010

The sun shone as we walked across Harcourt Street so my hopes were high that the good weather would prevail for our evening in Iveagh Gardens. I even touched wood when I said ‘the weather might hold up’ just in case I jinxed it. Well, it didn’t last, and just after I had bought a pint drops of rain splashed into my glass. But, this being Ireland I shouldn’t expect more from the weather.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing Candi Staton, a favourite among the girls when we’ve had a drink or two. Then there was the headline act, Paloma Faith, a singer I have heard titbits of on the radio and been impressed with everything I’ve found on You Tube. In anticipation of the rain I contacted the organisers to ask if the gig was open air or under a roof like some of the other events that take place in Iveagh Gardens. I was told that the gig was in the open air and that umbrellas were not permitted so I dug out an old anorak and my friend left her umbrella at home for fear that it would be confiscated. When we had our drinks we joined the rest of the revellers in front of the stage we found that most of them had their umbrellas up keeping them dry, so as you can imagine we weren’t too impressed about that.

When Candi Staton came on stage the crowd gave her a muted cheer, mainly because the wet weather was making everyone shiver. But, that didn’t last long as the beautiful Candi got everyone going thanks to her energetic soul which ranged in tempo from fast to slow. We danced in the rain to a mash-up of Tammy Wynette’s Stand by your Man and Ben E. King’s Stand by Me and the crowd joined in, waving their arms and it wasn’t long before the rain was forgotten. Elvis was next on the menu and Candi gave us her own version of Suspicious Minds which got the crowd jumping and full of smiles. It was one of those moments when you look around and people in macs danced around spraying water wherever they went. The tempo then slowed down with In The Ghetto and still spirits remained high although the rain poured harder and harder.

Candi switched it up again with a bit of disco and her 1976 hit Young Hearts Run Free and there was no stopping the crowd then. The crowd at the front bounced to the beats and arms were waved in time to the music. Candi even managed to get a bit of crowd participation going, not bad for a torrential downpour. By now my pint was 25% rain water but I didn’t care as those instantly recognisable notes came through the speaker – yes, it was You’ve Got The Love (a song with an interesting background to which Candi owns half the copyright and publishing). So, as Candi ended her set the crowd sang every word and the mic was turned over to them for the chorus.

It’s strange to think of a musician with such a long career and number of hits being the opening act for a relative newcomer, but it was perfect for Candi Staton to open the show because she raised the crowd from a soggy mass of plastic raincoats and beer glasses to dancing and singing maniacs who couldn’t stop smiling – even Paloma could be seen at the side of the stage waving her arms in appreciation.

The last time Paloma Faith was in Dublin she sold out Vicar St, and although there was a sizeable crowd in Iveagh Gardens it was far from sold out. However, the weather may have played its part in keeping people away. As people waited a Dj played a mixture of 50s and 60s tunes and people huddled together under trees to keep dry. (I will post again on my views on the venue, but this one is about the music maaaaaaaan).

The stage was set for Paloma with what looked like a crown above a silver stage covered in mirrors. Some very funky musicians graced the stage with afros, mohicans and big red ribbons in abundance. Then on came Paloma in a fabulous black 50s inspired dress and killer platform heels in a vibrant red. She looked out to the crowd and said ‘you all look like lemmings’ a statement that would have been lost on anyone born in the early 1990s. (Oh no!) The crowd were still on a high so they danced to the fast numbers and swayed to slow numbers including Stargazer.

Then all of a sudden the sound went dead, it seemed like the rain had got the better of the PA and all I could hear was the backing singers singing away. Paloma didn’t realise there was no sound and members of the band looked at each other unsure what to do as audience members shouted ‘We can’t hear you’. I couldn’t hear much from Paloma herself so was she miming or was I just too far away? I wouldn’t like to assume either. Towards the end of the song she realised what was going on and she carried on as the speakers came back to life and her voice belted out the last bars of the song. She said ‘ You couldn’t hear me, but I sounded great up here’ and so some shouted ‘Sing it again’ – but she didn’t.

As Candi had given us an array of covers Paloma followed suit and did an amazing cover of The Korgis’s Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime and the crowd sang along and couples embraced. She then gave us the title track from her debut album ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful’ and it was clear who were the Paloma fans as they knew the song word for word. More people piped up when her popular track Upside Down came on and even more for New York, which has been creating a  splash on You Tube but doesn’t hit the shops until August 1st.

By this point the audience were well and truly soaked and most were past caring. As a newcomer to Paloma’s music it would be easy to compare her voice to her contemporaries, but that would be the obvious thing to do. Paloma has a distinctive sound of her own which is modern, yet borrows elements from soul divas of the past.

Her encore consisted of covers of jazz numbers which hailed back to Paloma’s cabaret days and she closed with an unforgettable cover of Etta James’ At Last and a reminder that she would be back in Ireland as part of her tour later this year. If you do get a chance to see Paloma Faith I would urge you to go, but try to avoid the rain.