Wednesday 21 March 2018

7 days + nights: 4th - 9th June

Flat Lake Festival, Clones, Monaghan

Goodness, but there is a plethora of festivals to choose from this bank holiday weekend. Without some of the bells and whistles of its rivals, this is the festival that wins our hearts and attendance every year.

Utterly eccentric and unhinged, and that's not simply a reference to one of its founding fathers, Pat McCabe, this is the little festival that dreams big and bonkers. Now in its fifth outing, this year's Flat Lake is celebrating the typewriter in all its glory with a suitably bizarre range of themed events. It has also lined up a most diverse array of performers, from John Banville to the Innish Turk Bogg Sessions, from Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill to The Sons of Robert Mitchum, from Ulick O'Connor to the Rubberbandits (or maybe that's not such a leap). Round the nights off at the eternally burning bonfire that is always the weekend's greatest session.


Forbidden Fruit, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

Some of pop's great eccentrics convene at the Royal Hospital for a weekend that promises to be surreal and engaging in equal measures. Headlining Saturday night, Flaming Lips have ratcheted up their weirdness factor by packaging their latest EP inside an enormous gummy-bear skull. If you want to listen to the music, you have to chew through the candy and access the usb key contained within. Supporting them are woozy falsetto rockers Wild Beasts, whose latest album, Smother, may be the year's great headphones LP. On Sunday, meanwhile, Kilmainham welcomes an artist who has done more to influence modern electronic music than perhaps any other. An Aphex Twin live date is so rare an occurrence it's difficult to know exactly what to expect, though his turn at Oxegen a few years ago was a swoonfully bonkers affair. Support is from instrumental rockers Battles and smarty-pants electronica composer Caribou.


Cork X Southwest, Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen, Cork

No longer will we have to enviously listen to tales of the musical mayhem that is Texas' SXSW festival, now we have our own version and it's in a much more glorious venue than the sweaty dust-filled streets of Austin, Texas. CXSW music and arts festival has planted itself in the luscious environs of Liss Ard for a weekend of Patti Smith, Echo & the Bunnymen, Drugstore, Yuck, God is an Astronaut, Fred, a turf stage, comedians, storytellers, Slow Food village, lazy pints, hog roasts and not forgetting the seaweed baths . Oh but this does sound heavenly. I wonder if there is a shortcut to commute between here and Flat Lake ... .?


X-Men: First Class, On General Release

A prequel that charts the rise of Professor Charles Xavier and his band of mutant warriors, X-Men: First Class might easily have been a dull and humourless affair. But thanks to a fine cast of heavyweight actors and a witty script from a team that includes Jane Goldman, it's actually a pacey and pretty entertaining film. James McAvoy is well cast as a young Charles Xavier, who assembles a team of superhero mutants to combat a villain called Sebastian Shaw who wants to turn the Cuban missile crisis into all-out nuclear war. Michael Fassbender plays the young Magento, Jennifer Lawrence is Raven, and January Jones, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon complete this enjoyable superhero yarn's impressive cast.


The Art Books of Henri Matisse, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 2

Who knew that deceptively simple paper cutouts could be so dramatic, so inspirational, so emotionally charged? Best known for his vibrant paintings, Henri Matisse only discovered the magic of collage when he was in his early 70s and was bed-ridden after an illness. Looking for a way to occupy his hands and his creative mind, he pioneered a radical process that was to revolutionise both his own career and the graphic arts in general: that of cutting into coloured paper and collaging the pieces together. The results formed a number of arts books and the Dublin treasure that is the Chester Beatty Library has acquired four of these impressive tomes to put them on display for the first time in Europe. Consider yourself rather privileged to have them here.


Summer's Wreath, National Library, Dublin 2

Without any hullabaloo, something very special has been taking place every summer for the past four years in our National Library on Kildare Street. It's called Summer's Wreath, and it celebrates the writing of one William Butler Yeats. Summer's Wreath features a wonderfully diverse array of famous folk in lunchtime and evening readings, discussions and musical nights. And they're all for free. Yes, gratis, gratuit if you reserve yourself a ticket. Opening tonight with former Booker Prize judge Frank Delaney, the season will be closed on June 23 by poet Sir Andrew Motion. In between, we have such treats as Professor Roy Foster, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Fergal Keane, Kate O'Toole and author Hugo Hamilton. There's also a special event in the library's glorious Reading Room on June 18 as Andrea Corr reads a selection of Yeats' poetry to a soundtrack by master piper Liam O'Flynn. Book now, these tickets are snapped up by regulars.


The Frames, Vicar Street, Dublin 2

Yes, they're not hip and down with the kids. Yes, they haven't had a strong tune out in quite some time. Yes, Glen's Messiah complex can get slightly wearying. But, much more importantly, yes, they are a cracking live band. And, yes, Glen has a strong voice and is a charismatic frontman who knows how to play a crowd (well, until he starts thinking he's God ... ). We've always had a soft spot for The Frames live and their March gig when they played For The Birds though was the most recent confirmation that they've still got it. Expect tracks from The Frames past and The Swell Season present as they warm up for their gig at the Marquee in Cork on Saturday.

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