Live Reviews

The live music scene in Dublin is healthy at the best of times, but goes into overdrive the weeks before Christmas. If time and money were no object you could go to top gigs for a fortnight straight. The Kíla Christmas show is something of an institution now and I cannot recall exactly how many I have been. I remember Whelans, Vicar Street and the Meeting House Square. For the last few years they have held it at the Button Factory, a great venue that unfortunately programmes tribute acts a lot of the time.

Ye Vagabonds released their self-titled debut album in October. Carlow-raised Dublin-based brothers Diarmuid and Brían Mac Gloinn launched their album at Marrowbone Books in the Coombe and celebrated with two sell out gigs in the Cobblestone pub. I managed to miss all of that, but did go to the bookshop to get a copy of the album. This then got snowed under in the avalanche of excellent releases this autumn and I did not give the album the attention it warranted.

The Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin's Docklands area opened in 2010. These days it goes by the less attractive name Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. It is mostly used for musicals, which is a shame as it is a great place for live music. On 3 December the venue hosted Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, with support from Devon folk musician – and new Space Shifter – Seth Lakeman.

I arrived at the Bello Bar a little early, just before a queue formed that stretched all around the corner of the Lower Deck – the Portobello pub that houses this cool venue in its basement. I had come to this show because I knew I liked the support act and I was curious about the headliners. The majority of the folks queueing were presumably already aware of the brilliance of Anna & Elizabeth.

I first became aware of Sam Carter via his role in folk- rock (although a better description is probably rock-folk) band False Lights and their 2016 album 'Salvor'. False Lights headlined the final night at this year's Derby Folk Festival and based upon that performance I bought a ticket for tonight's solo show.

Whilst False Lights make have a great time electrifying, (or electrocuting) a number of trad. folk tunes tonight Sam who was named Best Newcomer at the 2010 Radio2 Folk Awards is flying solo playing tracks from his latest album 'How The City Sings'. The album reflects on his 10 year relationship with London, the city he recently left for the folkie-friendly city of Sheffield.

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