Loaded: Size matters at grand canal
Josh Ritter plays Dublin's new Grand Canal theatre on April 27 and it is fair to assume that those attending will spend much of the time absorbing the stunning surroundings.
I toured the as yet unfinished building in one of Dublin's most transformed areas last week and was much taken with the eye-catching design. The vision of world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, its ultra-modern exterior of glass and slanted roof is complemented by a surprisingly conventional, but very plush interior.
Seating 2,111 people, it will cater for about 800 more per show than the city's Olympia, Gaiety, Vicar Street and Tripod. Dublin has been crying out for a venue of this size for a long time.
And for those of us above six feet, I'm happy to report that there's generous leg-room -- something you won't get in the dress circle at the Olympia, for instance.
The venue officially opens on March 18 with a sold-out run of Swan Lake from the Russian State Opera.
Rufus Wainwright (below), Ray Davies, R Kelly and a production of the popular West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are among those making up the eccentric line-up.
Let's hope that when Natalie Merchant returns to Dublin later this year, her concert will be at the Grand Canal. It would be the perfect place to hear her new double album, Leave Your Sleep, which features a set of poems set to song.
Last month, she showcased her new work at a packed Whelan's and while the gig was a delight, the cramped confines of the venue and the inevitable noise from the bar palpably detracted from the experience.
- Say what you will about Duke Special, but there's no denying that he's fond of trying new things.
The Belfast singer will release The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen on Friday, February 26 as a three CD box set and separate CDs.
Album one, Mother Courage and Her Children, features music written and performed by Duke Special for the new production of the Bertolt Brecht play and staged at the National Theatre in London for over two months in 2009 and starring Fiona Shaw.
Album two, Huckleberry Finn is an unfinished musical by Kurt Weill based on the Mark Twain classic and contains just five songs reinterpreted by DS.
Most intriguingly of all, the third part, The Silent World of Hector Mann, is an album of new material based on the Paul Auster novel, The Book of Illusions, and featuring songs written by DS, Neil Hannon and Ed Harcourt.
- Mark Ronson's new album is set to be one of the most eagerly awaited of the year -- particularly for his record company who have benefited from the phenomenal success of the Version album.
This time, his collaborators include Scissor Sisters, Santigold, Cathy Dennis, rapper Pill and Miike Snow. The album, to be called The Business, is likely to see a June release.
Furthermore, unlike Version, which featured covers of songs by Kaiser Chiefs and Coldplay among others, all the songs will be original. "There are no covers, and no horns," he told NME.com. "It's written with some of the people that actually wrote the songs I covered on the last album and that I didn't actually even know at the time."
- There is no shortage of benefit gigs in aid of Haiti of late, but one particularly deserving of your hard-earned cash takes place in Vicar Street, Dublin, on Thursday, February 11 with all proceeds going to Trocaire's Earthquake Appeal.
The hotly tipped Villagers will play alongside Choice nominee Julie Feeney, Cathy Davey, The Chapters and The Chakras.
Ciara Gaynor, Trócaire's head of campaigns and a former music industry publicist, says: "It will take decades for Haiti to recover from the earthquake. The country must not be faced with the additional massive burden of debt repayments. Any emergency earthquake assistance must be in the form of grants, not loans, which will only increase Haiti's debt burden in the long run.
Tickets cost €20.