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7 days + nights: 29th April - 5th May

Sounds of the Silk Road, St Peter's Church of Ireland, Drogheda

The Star of the East Coast, aka Drogheda, will be shining brightly this weekend as the Drogheda Arts Festival (DAF) has lined up its most glittering programme to date. Events don't come much more special than this presentation of the Sounds of the Silk Road featuring specially commissioned work by Uzbekistan composer Dmitri Yanov Yanovsky for the world-renowned Hilliard Ensemble. This is the first time the Ensemble have been involved with an Irish-based commission and it is also Dmitri's first Irish commission. They will be joined on the night by cellist Ivan Monighetti and the newly formed EQ Ensemble and theremin player Lydia Kavina, who learnt the theremin from her great uncle Leon Theremin. To appreciate what a treat you've got in store if you follow the star, check out bit.ly/2YOTKT. We particularly enjoy the shushing.



MindField, Merrion Square, Dublin 2

If Saturday night is a tad occupied by loud Northern rockers (see below), then Saturday day can at least be in the company of impressively erudite thinkers as MindField takes over the gentrified environs of Merrion Square again. Capitalism, poetry, Iceland, photography, butterflies, fashion and foreign policy are just some of the topics that will get the MindField treatment over 62 shows on four stages over three days. Today's highlights include an attempt to redesign the capital with the likes of Dylan Haskins and Simon Kelly, a reading by John Banville and an examination of the future for printed media featuring the likes of The Stinging Fly's Declan Meade and Broadsheet.ie's John Ryan. And keep an eye out for the ireland:iceland project.



And So I Watch You From Afar, Button Factory, Dublin 2

Yes, yes, it is Saturday again, but this is one weekend that you will wish you had at least two Saturdays. The love affair between Irish musicians and cranium-splitting instrumental rock continues tonight. On the heels of the gleefully unlistenable Adebisi Shank come label mates And So I Watch You From Afar, a group whose foundation-loosening post-rock has been on the receiving end of vast quantities of taste-maker buzz. On record, they have a tendency to sound like veteran guitar abusers Mogwai, minus the subtle bits. In the flesh, though, the band pack the sonic equivalent of a thwack on the nose with a shovel (yes, that is a recommendation). Their biggest Irish show to date comes as the Belfast outfit celebrate the release of second LP Gangs, which, in addition to sending Irish fans into an anticipatory tizzy, has started garnering attention in Britain. Their first record received a Choice nomination. This time around you sense the accolades are going to be even more prestigious.



Pineapple, Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda

All roads still lead to Drogheda on Sunday as the Drogheda Arts Festival continues apace with the world premiere of this new play by Philip McMahon. Presented by Calipo Theatre Company, this tells the tale of Roxanna, Bacardi Breezers and the need to take a chance on love. Directed by David Horan and starring Caoilfhionn Dunne and Janet Moran, this production moves on to Blanchardstown's Draoicht and Ballymun's axis. And it is just one more feather in DAF's cap, a diverse festival that also includes a new play by Drogheda Youth Theatre, poetry by Michael O'Loughlin, a theremin workshop, melodic cannons, set-dancing and a bmx and skating showcase. Another major highlight will be Upstate Theatre Project's devised drama at Oldbridge House based on the real-life memoirs of local woman Angela Mitchell, who lived and worked there as a servant since the 20s. Drogheda rocks.



After such a fun-filled weekend, today should be a day of complete rest.


Maser is Home Made, The Art Park, Spencer Dock, Dublin 1

In these days of knowledge overload, it is a welcome relief to find out there are still some people who can remain invisible, who don't lust after the spotlight. Maser is one of those stealth masters who revel in remaining unknown rather than being discovered, but the results of his labour are very much in the public eye. This graffiti star has put his stamp all over the city since 1995, with a string of increasingly socially aware and controversial messages. In 2010, Maser completed a yearlong project entitled They Are Us, a collaboration with singer Damien Dempsey that raised €29,000 for the Simon Community. For this new work, Maser presents a six-minute unique graffiti video projection at this new space behind The Convention Centre. It will be screened nightly from dusk to 1am until May 8.



12 Points! Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar

Four nights, 12 young bands and the best new jazz that Europe has to offer is what this year's 12 Points! festival promises. Launching tonight and taking up residence in the Project, this does have the Improvised Music Company at its helm, which means the music is going to be ever so slightly special. An impressive 300 groups made submissions through their open call, from which they've selected 12 tall poppies. They couldn't be more different, some comfortably rooted in jazz tradition, others defiantly kicking over the traces, some already signed to major labels, some yet to release their debut CDs. Tonight's trio are the Susana Santos Silva Quintet from Porto, The Ambush Party from Amsterdam and Phronesis from London. You'll hear it here first.



Thor, On General Release

The first of a flock of superhero films that are hurtling your way this summer, Thor is based both on Norse legend and a popular Marvel comic and is directed by Kenneth Branagh. It's been a number of years since Mr Branagh has been put in charge of a $150m film, and overall he does a creditable job of handling a rather unwieldy script. Cast out of the heavenly kingdom of Asgard after disobeying his father, Thor falls to earth where he struggles to deal with life as a mortal and falls in love with a passing scientist (Natalie Portman). If the CGI is a little heavyhanded, the film boasts a wry sense of humour and an energetic lead performance from Australian actor Chris Hemsworth.

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