Tuesday 20 March 2018

Róisín the festival homecoming queen, and underdog Rufus has his day

Festival: Longitude, Marlay Park, Dublin

Sold out: Róisín Murphy was one of the highlights of Longitude.
Sold out: Róisín Murphy was one of the highlights of Longitude.
Kendrick Lamar was another highlight of Longitude.

In the middle of an extremely busy July for outdoor shows, Longitude still sells out for its fourth instalment. Friday headliner Kendrick Lamar hasn't played in Ireland since a show in Vicar St in January 2013 and a lot has changed since then. "Look both ways before you cross my mind," declares the backdrop visual quote from George Clinton.

Lamar may be quite short, but he possesses massive stage presence.

The audience profile for the weekend is quite young, but Sunday sees the pensioners crawl out of the woodwork for The National, Father John Misty and the colourful Arklow legend that is Róisín Murphy.

Jamie xx puts in a solid shift with a DJ set of thundering dubstep and bass-driven electronica, beautifully signing off with 'Dream Baby Dream' by Suicide in honour of just deceased singer Alan Vega.

Róisín Murphy took a few years out to have children following the release of 'Overpowered' in 2009, but she is back with a vengeance and releasing an album a year since 2014. Her latest collection is cheekily entitled 'Take Her Up to Monto' after the folk song popularised by Luke Kelly and the Dubliners, and it is her most brilliantly bonkers record yet.

Murphy segues last year's single 'Exploitation' into her calling card hit, 'Sing it Back' by Moloko, and then walks into the crowd and the place goes absolutely bananas.

Live shows have sometimes been a bit of a hit or miss affair for Róisín, but at Longtiude she was the homecoming queen who spectacularly delivered the perfect curtain closer for three sun-kissed days of music and mayhem.

Here's to next year's Marlay extravaganza.

- Eamon Sweeney

Pop: Rufus Wainwright, National Concert Hall, Dublin

Rufus Wainwright has never had a proper hit and this failure to crash the big-time has arguably been the making of him. Had he become a star, it is easy to imagine the Canadian crooner emulating the bloated blandness of Elton John or Coldplay, talents fatally waylaid by celebrity.

Instead, two decades as an underdog have kept 43-year-old Wainwright lean and angsty and yielded a rich catalogue of confessional writing. Without a new album to promote (we can dismiss his recent, deeply eccentric, suite of Shakespeare sonnets set to music as a throwaway extravagance), he generously delved into a repertoire short on unit-shifters but dripping with gorgeous art-pop.

Head tilted, Wainwright emoted his heart out on 'The Art Teacher' and 'Gay Messiah', torch songs that spliced emotional overflow and Philip Glass-style minimalism.

Pathos and dry wit meanwhile engaged in a slow dance on 'Danny Boy', a valentine to a straight friend with whom he fell in love, and he even rocked out a bit as he strapped on a guitar for 'California' and the 70s-flavoured 'Out Of The Game' (in a parallel universe, surely his first number one).

Yet the evening's highlight arguably arrived during a second encore as, stooped over the piano, Wainwright delivered a soul-baring 'Poses', a delicate dirge written when he was in the clutches of crystal meth addiction.

Fifteen years on, it has lost none of its unnerving ache.

- Ed Power

Irish Independent

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