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.

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 or contact the Gaiety Theatre on 01 677 1717

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.

Tuesday blues.

8 06 2010

It’s Tuesday, but boy it feels like a Monday. I had an interesting Bank Holiday (for the non- Irish we on the Emerald Isle have ours a week later) because I was moving house. I have to be upfront and say I hate the whole process of moving, from looking at houses and the whole ‘pick me, pick me’ mentality of it all (give me a job interview over a grilling from potential housemates any day) to moving ‘stuff’ from one place to the other.

I come from a long line of hoarders and so getting rid of things isn’t particularly easy. Saying that I’ve got rid of a considerable amount of stuff including two bin bags of clothes which I dragged to my local St Vincent De Paul. I still have four boxes of stuff to sort – which usually end up exploding all over the floor and then being stuffed into a drawer until I move again – but this time it’s going to be different. I will sort them out, I WILL!

I did manage to go and see The Killer Inside Me. I didn’t really enjoy it. I think it was too long, unnecessarily violent and although it’s described as a psychological film noir I think it lacked enough insights into the main character Lou Ford. Although there are fleeting flashbacks to his childhood, you never quite understand why he is the way he is and his reasoning behind the killings. I was actually bored at times and found it a bit too predictable by the end. The violence in the film has got people talking, but once you get past that there’s not much else of interest in the film.

I was also sad to hear about the death of former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable who was found dead at his home in Llwydcoed, south Wales. RIP.

Theatre outing take 1

15 04 2010

On Monday, I had tickets to see Traces at the Olympia theatre in Dublin, a venue I have been to a few times this year. I have to admit that it’s not my favourite theatre to see a show because there are too many places where your view can be restricted, but that’s by the bye.

The seats we were allocated were at an angle to the stage with some of it not in view. So as soon as the lights went down we moved. Of course, half the audience turned up late so it wasn’t long until we was turfed out of the seats we’d commandeered.

The opening act was great – Fiona Melady played some beautiful songs which the audience revelled in. Each song received a rapturous round of applause and the audience listened in silence to each song. My only criticism would be, she didn’t say who she was at the end of her set, so those of us who were not paying attention at the beginning or people who arrived late didn’t know who to Google at the end of the night.

During the interval we had a few drinks in the theatre bar and the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. The main show, Traces, had been given such a build up it would be interesting to see if it lived up to expectation…and after my night – I couldn’t give you an honest answer.

What I saw of the show was amazing – beautiful dance and breathtaking acrobatics that had everyone oohing and aahing.

However…the row in front of where we were sitting arrived as the show was beginning. It was clear early on that these people decided a night at the theatre was the perfect excuse for a session and the smell of rancid alcohol wafted from them. They began to talk loudly over the show, and didn’t quiet down when they were shushed from all angles. The couple in front turned around and asked them to be quiet which resulted in giggles and swearing from the women in question.

I also asked for them to quiet down, but I was ignored. Then one turned around and accused me of kicking her seat and in her head that constituted assault. Then the people behind me got involved by fighting my corner and…well to cut a long story short my evening was ruined by these people.

I have never experienced anything like it! Why do people think it’s acceptable to go to the theatre off their faces then make everyone around them feel uncomfortable? I felt threatened for the rest of the performance and was worried what they were going to do next.

It was worrying that not one member of the Olympia staff was on hand to diffuse the situation and it was perfectly clear that there was an incident taking place. At the end of the show I made a complaint to the manager who offered tickets to another date of the same show, which I accepted, but as you can imagine this experienced has tarnished my opinion of the place.

None of this is a reflection on the show which deserves the glowing reviews it has received. I’m just shocked that people think it’s acceptable to behave like this in a theatre – especially when there were children present.