Monday, July 18, 2011

Richard Thompson at Vicar Street

What a doughty old troubadour Thompson is. On he comes with his beret and his knowing smirk and delivers a 90 minute show that is polished, professional, and great fun. The crowd pleasers are all included: Beeswing, Vincent Black Lightning, Galway to Graceland etc. But there's also a moving version of Sandy Denny's classic Who Knows Where the Time Goes. He precedes this with a nice little tribute to the late lamented Sandy. The guitar playing has become more adventurous with the years but never too fussy.

At gigs I always seem to attract the sing along types who bellow in your ear so you get a disconcerting fucked up stereophonic thing going on. I remember going to an Eagles concert in the RDS years back and Ronan Collins (directly behind me) sang along with every song. I also recall having my finger broken in the Leider Halle in Stuttgart at a BB King concert when I asked a noisy black woman to shut up. This time my tormentor took it well when I asked him to desist - just as well as he turned out to be about six foot four when he stood up at the end.

Vicar Street is a fine venue if you have a strong back. The little circular seats around the tables don't work - especially if you're at the stage side of the table with nothing to lean on.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sympathetic Magic

Ok, here’s the deal. Whatever chance Darren Clarke had of winning the British Open he blew today (Saturday 16th) by not taking advantage of numerous opportunities (about 6 easy missed putts I reckon) to put distance between himself and the field. He should be 5 or 6 shots clear.

He will blow up tomorrow and be lucky to make the top ten. The only thing he’s got going for him is the unlikely cast of potential winners behind him. Surely not Bjorn with his traumatic history; surely not Dustin Johnson with his recent major travails; hardly Jiminez at this stage of his career; or the young tyro Fowler with the extraordinarily ugly wardrobe; maybe Michelson who’s a little far back or the methodical Kaymer. I think the journeyman Glover may sneak in. Heaven forfend the West Texan progmatist Campbell prevails. Whoever it is, it won’t be Clarke. So be prepared to suffer as he misses easy putts, visits the rough and begins to berate himself. Compare and contrast his heart on sleeve approach to adversity (scowl of disappointment, shoulders slumped, eyes darkened,) to the imbecilic grin with which Padraig Harrington greets golf’s slings and arrows - not of course that you'll be seeing Harrington this weekend.

And by the way, much as we all love Tom Watson does he really have to wear that shit brown wardrobe. Come on Tom, we know you’re on the Seniors Tour but lose the dun look.

CODA: That worked very well. Maybe I should start predicting Kilkenny for the All Ireland.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Have You Ever Seen the Likes of That

Well no actually. Not even back in the glorious prime of Jimmy Doyle and his Hell's Kitchen enforcers in the Sixties or the lustrous Tony Reddan, Jimmy Finn and their cohorts in the Fifties. Remember today was a Munster Final and Tipp won by 7-19 to 0-19 - a margin of 21 points. This was the most complete and devastating performance I have seen by a Tipperary hurling team in the past 50 year. Tom Semple and Martin Kennedy may have had their moments before that but they are lost to me in the mists of time. This was a sustained tour de force full of passion, guile, movement, skill, and courage. Witness Bonnar Maher's hand-passes, Corbett's acrobatic commitment and uncanny positioning, Kelly's power shooting, Noel McGrath's sublime sideline cuts, John O'Brien's unique hurley skills, and the phlegmatic Cummins providing ballast for the whole crew.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Allman, Friel and Beug

It's a real pleasure to see an uncomplicated shit-kicking rock band at the top of their game. Gregg Allman and his merry men delivered a high-octane blues-tinted gig at Vicar Street last Monday - to an audience as grizzled as the main man. Allman has one of the sweetest voices in rock and one of the ugliest faces. Time, heroin, coke and alcohol (and a recent liver transplant) have not diminished his talent. And he still has that amazing head of air, mostly in a lengthy pony-tail but occasionally let fly free. He has surrounded himself with a wonderful band. His late lamented brother Duane is covered by a young gun slinger on slide guitar; some mad Jewish freak does piano and organ and there's a tall cerebral sax player and the mandatory uber cool bass guy. Behind them there are two and sometimes three drummers - or more accurately one drummer and two percussionists. They do some standards, some Dylan and a lot from Greg's "Low Country Blues" album. Highlights are "I Can't be Satisified", "Just Like a Woman" and "Sweet Melissa" - but it's all good stuff.

I haven't seen a production of Brian Friel's "Translations" since Liam Neeson was an aspiring young actor. This recent production in the Abbey was a lighter, sunnier production but you were always aware of the dark stuff (the Donnelly brothers and the potato famine) hanging in the air - a distant cloud in Arcadia. I always enjoy the tension in the theatre and admire the discipline of professional actors - as a bad amateur one in my time I have some inkling of what it takes. Some creep called Crawley in the Irish Times gave this production a dubious review making a slighting reference to Oklahoma. Cheap shot. I found it zipped along and if at times there was a bucolic feel to some of the scenes it was only to mark the contrast to the looming darkness. And the audience lapped it up.

I can take abstraction in art as well as the next man. In fact I'd consider the rigorously abstract Charlie Tyrrell one of my favourite contemporary Irish artists. And I'll bow to no one in my admiration for the likes of Scully and Rothko. However I just do not get Katherine Boucher Beug - who's currently showing in the estimable Oliver Sears Gallery. I loved her recent piece in the RHA but my encounter with her work en masse has not worked for me. Better judges than me seem to rate her very highly but you can't hurry love and I'm just not convinced. I pick up hints of Scully but I also pick up a dispiriting whiff of John Noel Smith. And while I may with time and effort come around to her symphonies of stripes I will never reconcile myself to the small twee 3-D wooden tables that accompany some of the work. Heaven forfend.