Monday 20 November 2017

Review: Bringing the voices back home

Music Other Voices Dingle, Co Kerry

Glen Hansard at Other Voices
Glen Hansard at Other Voices
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Other Voices has come a very long way since its inception in 2003. It launched in Dingle as a low-key, late-night television series focusing on Irish singer-songwriters presented by Glen Hansard and Jerry Fish. Now, it often takes leave of its Kerry home and tours the festival circuit.

It has taken some intriguing risks over the years, giving a stage to Amy Winehouse and Florence + The Machine when the world didn't know their names. The 2015 instalment features the return of the Oscar-winning Hansard alongside Gaz Coombes - formerly of Britpop group Supergrass - and a minimalist slow-core trio from Duluth, Minnesota called Low.

The free-music trail completely takes over the town's bars and venues, while the Dingle Skellig Hotel hosts an international tourism, arts and culture conference.

As well as the side shows and burgeoning fringe events, Hansard, Richard Hawley, Bleeding Heart Pigeons, Low and Mahalua Music played St John's Church on Saturday night.

Hansard captures the essence of the event, delivering a set of songs from recent album Didn't He Ramble alongside some wonderful stories about long nights out and a touching tribute to his late dad entitled 'Pay My Way'.

Hawley used to be a member of Britpop band the Longpigs, and also served a stint with Sheffield band Pulp. He strips it back to the bare essentials for his Other Voices appearance for an acoustic set complete with some musings on the ingredients of a full Irish and other matters.

Dublin band Overhead, The Albatross pack a few hundred people into the tent for a swoonsome Sunday afternoon set of apocalyptic post-rock that also knows how to be tender and touching.

Coombes, meanwhile, look incredibly dapper with his Fez hat and natty threads. His music is equally as smart, beautifully showcasing his Mercury-nominated solo album Matador. It illustrates how this is an ideal vehicle for an artist to reinvent themselves to be a bit bolder and bigger, just like Other Voices itself.

Irish Independent

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