It’s been a golden year for live music across Ireland, and we’ve been lucky enough to have see some heavy hitters reunited, as well as a fertile landscape of blossoming, homegrown talent. Thankfully, we’ve been well placed to attend and review the majority of those listed below, and as we approach 2018 under a slew of outrageously good gig announcements, a selection of our hard working contributors and live music junkies sum up their favourite shows of the past 12 months. Dig right the feck in.
Radiohead – 3arena, Dublin
We’d waited nine long years for Radiohead to return after their last outing on these shores. Like scolded school children we wondered what we’d done to deserve the snub but 2017 saw them return for a sell-out in seconds show in the 3arena as they came to town to flog A Moon Shaped Pool. Fortuitously this was also their last gig before their headline slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage three days later so lucky Dublin found them ramping it up and pulling out all the stops, a band peaking as they delivered a visually rich and luscious aural spectacle worthy of the nine year wait. All was ultimately forgiven as they left us with ‘How To Disappear Completely’ and dreams of floating down the Liffey. The band of their generation on top of their game. Incredible. (Phillip Dunne)
Soulwax – Electric Picnic, Stradbally
The Dewaele Bros’ obsession with percussion was borne out in a lineup that included three drummers, encased in a set that looked like a mad science lab. Those who skipped Duran Duran were hypnotically pummelled into submission. (Stephen Keegan)
Vök – Hof in Akureyri, Iceland
Although their debut album, Figure, showed off this Reykjavík-based group’s tender synth-pop proclivities, they are bracing and bold live, as Margrét Rán prowls the stage like an Icelandic Jehnny Beth. (Kara Manning)
Ride – Olympia Theatre, Dublin
3,2,1 and we’re back in the room… Ride have just exited the face-melting, white noise wormhole of ‘Leave Them All Behind’. Feeling slightly dazed and confused, I’m back in the Olympia having just travelled back and forth in the blink of an eye to the early ’90s and a grotty bedsit just off Dublin’s South Circular Road.
During my student days, Ride soundtracked many a night’s excursion into the psychedelic realm and the aforementioned bedsit, the launch pad for many such an evening’s exploration, had a poster of Ride’s album, Nowhere on one of its woodchipped walls. The stillness of the uncrested wave in the album’s artwork, the stifled, pent up energy caught up in the swell of the never breaking wave at odds with the invariably pulsating wallpaper.
And so there I was, during the magnificent maelstrom of the Oxonian shoegazers’ whiteout, transported back, transcending time and space, back staring agog at that undulating wave like a Magic Eye that was yet to reveal its hidden image. Back out on the perimeter, kicking down the doors of perception. Not the gig of the year, too much generic indie landfill for that accolade but definitely a contender for musical moment of the year. (Phillip Dunne)
Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart – The Grand Social, Dublin
This was a gig that had it going on, deep down and dirty. The band were on top form and the wonderful Mr Wobble had the audience eating out of his hand with his anecdotes and stories. His version of ‘Public Image’ was fantastic and the musicians were in top form. (Nick Hetherington)
Stormzy – Olympia Theatre, Dublin
The precursor to a massive headline show at Longitude later in the year, this was a night for the die hards and day one fans who showed their adoration by singing along every word to tracks that were only out for a month. A landmark Irish show in the constantly expanding career of Stormzy. (Ross Logan)
Aphex Twin – Forbidden Fruit, Dublin
“Doesn’t give a fuck” nine-point-nine times out of ten turns out to be an empty boast, but there’s no other way to describe Aphex Twin’s first Irish gig in years. Beginning with gut-reverberating bass and sinister vocal samples, James used a combination of traditional DJing and his enviable-if-oblique collection of sonic hardware to shift moods, tempos, and a wealth of classic and new experimental music, all imprinted with his trademark devilish grin. Not that you could see it: he was hidden behind a score of screens, with its interactive and garishly-impressionistic visuals amusing, entrancing and possibly horrifying the audience (sometimes all at once). Finally, he bowed out with half an hour of chaotic, haphazardly layered jungle and ear-shredding Merzbow-like noise. He even gave an encore, but shifted all the attention to Ryan Wyer, the Rush 13-year old whose Aphex Twin fan videos led to an official music video commission, waving to the crowd after being given the backstage experience by his hero. It’s never easy to tell where the jokes stop with James, but he has his quirks of sincerity, and no less the vagabond charmer for it. (Also, always bring ear protection) (David Molloy)
Le Boom – Whelan’s, Dublin
Ireland’s latest dance-pop sensations announced themselves at a packed midnight show. A little light on material but they more than made up for it with passion and sweat. Over the course of the year Aimee Mallon became one of the most engaging live presences in the country. (Stephen Keegan)
St. Vincent – The Olympia Theatre, Dublin
With MASSEDUCTION Annie Clark delivered one of her more personal albums, an artist laid bare, and her recent run of live shows saw her equally exposed. Clark left her band behind, instead cementing her status as one of the most unique and expressive artists on the circuit, sonically and visually. The Olympia show was simply stunning, as St. Vincent tore shreds with her guitar and delivered an audio-visual masterclass; running chronologically through her repertoire in the set’s first half and playing her new record in its entirety in the second. A cut above. (Justin McDaid)