Damien Dempsey and Lankum - two of the most Dublin of acts playing on a summer's evening in the Iveagh Gardens in the city centre: An opportunity not to be missed. The concert was part of a series of summertime concerts put on by Aiken Promotions at this great location. The number of shows seems to increase year on year. Keep 'em coming guys!
When it comes to Lankum I am biased. I happen to think they are the best band in Ireland (read my previous review), but Damo's fans appeared swiftly won over too. The band recently underwent a name change. They were Lynched, named after the band's brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch. They became uncomfortable with the name, particularly when playing in the U.S. "We will not continue to work under our current name while the systematic persecution and murder of Black people in the USA continues", read their official statement. Their new name is Lankum, which comes from the Irish Traveller ballad 'False Lankum'. The transitional period has now passed and no reference was made to it during the show.
Their time slot was short and they made the most of it, curtailing the banter somewhat. They opened with 'Sergeant William Bailey'. Radie Peat impressed with her vocal turn on 'What Will We Do When We Have No Money', and their four part harmonies were particularly powerful on 'The Peat Bog Soldiers'. I am hoping that these songs will be on the band's second album, the completion of which was recently announced eloquently on Twitter with the words "In the fucking bag, bitches".
'The Irish Jubilee', a wordy vaudeville song about food, was preceded by the band throwing fruit and chocolate bars into the audience. I heard the song before but this time I actually managed to catch all the words (all 10,000 of them...). Their masterpiece 'Cold Old Fire' remains a highlight and they finished of with 'The Old Man From Over The Sea', no doubt having gained new fans.
For Damien Dempsey this was his first hometown show since the release of his latest album 'Soulsun' (review here) Damien has had to postpone UK dates in May due to a nose operation ("me septum's as bent as the back roads of Finglas", as per his website). Thankfully he appeared in fine form and good voice and he had his stellar band with him, which includes long time producer John Reynolds on drums, musical maestro Éamonn de Barra on flute and whistle, and Pauline Scanlon on backing vocals. Unfortunately Pauline's voice got buried in the mix, from where I stood anyway.
I am an old-fashioned music fan who wants to hear new music at a concert, but the reality nowadays is that crowds demand to be pleased and hits must be played. This is no hardship as Damien has a great catalogue and the entire gig was excellent, however I would have liked to have heard more from 'Soulsun'. The title track was played - and well received - plus 'Pretty Bird Tree', 'Simple Faith' and the standout track from the album, 'Soft Rain', an ode to Dublin. I noticed people around me rapping along word for word to that song's spoken word verses. Damien is planning a full Irish tour later on in the year, so hopefully he will play more from the new album then.
Other highlights were 'Chris and Stevie' from the 'Almighty Love' album (a tale about suicide, still very relevant), 'The rocky road to Dublin' (I just love his version) and 'Patience' (such a nice melody). The singalongs were massive, as were the "Damo-o-oh" chants any time it got quiet in between songs.
It was a proper long gig too, with a cover of the Pogues' ' Rainy Night In Soho' and Damien's biggest hit 'It's All Good' for encores. And the party continued on into the night, with people singing "Love yourself today, okay" in the streets as they left. Happy days.