Saturday 25 November 2017

Mercury lows and Picnic highs

John Meagher

John Meagher

Commiserations to Conor O'Brien of Villagers who missed out on the Mercury prize on Tuesday night. After years of spectacularly undeserving winners, the judges have been on the ball in recent years and there have been few quibbles over this week's victors, The xx, whose self-titled debut is a slow-burning delight that does something special with dubstep and trip-hop.

Still, viewers to BBC's television coverage of the awards will have been struck by the enthusiasm of perennial panellist Miranda Sawyer for Villagers' album Becoming a Jackel. She was apparently moved to tears by O'Brien's solo performance on the night.

  • Speaking of Villagers, they will play an invite-only show on Thursday in Dublin's newest venue, The Workman's Club on Wellington Quay. The venue officially opened its doors last night for a show from Aussie electronica outfit PVT and is a very welcome entry to the city's live scene.

Those hoping to attend the Villagers show can try to win tickets through the current issue of Hot Press. For those unable to go, the gig will be aired in its entirety on The Paul McLoone Show on Today FM on Thursday.

  • On the same night that Villagers play Workman's, Rolling Stones fans are in for a treat in the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones is a concert film taken from two 1972 shows in Texas and will be shown for one night only. The concert footage shows Jagger et al play tracks from the just released Exile on Main Street, and the screening times are 6.30pm and 8.45pm.

Hopefully, one day we will get to see Cocksucker Blues, the incendiary warts and all documentary from the same Stones US tour. Originally sanctioned by the band, Jagger et al got cold feet when they saw the debauched documentary. Much of it can be viewed on YouTube and it makes all other rock docs look very tame by comparison.

  • Fresh from their appearances at Electric Picnic at the weekend, both Foals and The National have announced Dublin dates. The former play the Olympia on November 15, while the latter are at the same venue on December 2. Foals tickets went on sale yesterday (€23.50), while The National's are available from this very morning for €28.50.
  • I greatly enjoyed my visit to Stradbally and, for me, the highlight of this Picnic was Jonsi's extraordinary show in the Electric Arena. The Sigur Ros man has lost none of his appeal by going it alone and his performance, aided by evocative visuals, was up there with the very best festival gigs I've seen.

I also caught the early part of Modest Mouse and they had little trouble commanding the Main Stage -- it helps to have two drummers in tow. My colleague, Nick Kelly, wasn't so sure about The National's Main Stage set on Sunday night -- he thought they would have worked far better in one of the tents.

Foals certainly sounded in great form in the aptly named Little Big Tent -- in fact it wasn't big enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to see them. But Laura Marling's intimate and very delicate folk music failed to make the desired impact in the same location.

As ever, I was utterly captivated by the Body & Soul area, and will make it a priority to check out the second Body & Soul festival in Co Westmeath next summer. This part of the Picnic is what makes it so special and ensures that Oxegen will always be playing catch-up.

And I stand over my assertion last week that the organisers should introduce one-day tickets for next year's festival, which John Reynolds says he is already working on.

  • I eschewed the Picnic on Sunday in order to be in Croke Park to watch Tipperary secure a glorious hurling All-Ireland victory. The team did a lap of honour of the stadium to the sound of U2's Beautiful Day and, boy, did that song sound sweet just then. Incidentally, while Croker may have questionable acoustics for big rock concerts, their actual sound system is something else.
  • Fans of the visual side of rock will need little introduction to Peter Saville. His designs for Factory Records have endured. It's the closest that the album and single cover gets to art. Now, the Mancunian has turned his attentions to another passion -- together with Umbro, he has created the latest England home football shirt. And a rather lovely bit of design it is too.

Irish Independent

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