George Ezra – The Olympia Theatre 29/05/2017

I last seen George Ezra back in 2015 when he took to the main stage at Electric Picnic, so I was excited to see him again in a much more intimate setting like Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.

He opened with one of his lesser known singles Cassy O‘ to ease the crowd in, and after catching his breath he announced that he was going to trial some unreleased new material and launched in to new song Get Away. It was a catchy number that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on his debut album Wanted on voyage. He stopped between songs to tell anecdotes about the writing process for the new material and where the inspiration came from, which included hiring an Airbnb and getting away from his unrelenting touring schedule by spending time in the likes of Barcelona.

The set was a near even mix between newer material and hits from Wanted on voyage which kept the crowd happyIn particular I liked one of his newly aired songs Pretty smiling people, It’s a little bit more rock and roll than his usual tracks and it really got the crowd going. Fan favorites Barcelona and Did you hear the rain made a welcome appearance but it was Blame it on me that unsurprisingly brought the house down, I couldn’t hear him over the crowd chanting. He had an extended band with him for the whole show including a brass section which really made a lot of the songs pop in such an intimate setting.

Although he was on form and the songs sounded great, the length of the gig was a big negative for me. He was on and off stage again in just under one hour including his one song encore of Barcelona. Something that is generally unheard of for someone of his standing, lets hope the rest of the dates on his tour get a bit more bang for their buck.  

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 – Review

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 picks up not long after where the first Guardians of the Galaxy film left off. It uses the same formula of offbeat humour, and a cast of lovable misfits set to the soundtrack of some of our favourite hits from days past. When Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy arrived in 2014 it was fresh, new and exciting, and as it hadn’t been done before we didn’t know what to expect going in to the film. Now that we’ve arrived at Vol.2 its a little bit predictable.

In the previous film we were just getting to know the characters and got to see how they were connected, but in this film everything is focalized around the idea of family, both those we’re born into and those we build by choice. In this film we are introduced to Ego (Kurt Russell), a god like figure who is the natural father of Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). It focuses on their new found relationship and also looks into the past to show us how Star-Lord came to be. Gamora spends most of this film occupied by her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), while Drax (Dave Bautista) is busy making friends with Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Separate to all of this is going on, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) are entangled in the power struggle happening between Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his crew.

Because there were so many different plot points that didn’t always fit together, the film at times felt a little disjointed. It didn’t always feel like the different plots were propelling the film forward. Without giving any spoilers, it also felt a little too over sentimental in places. Overall however, I really enjoyed it. There were plenty of in jokes and laugh out loud moments. Baby Groot  in particular was responsible for a lot of these, he pretty much stole every scene he was in. I loved the retro soundtrack throughout, and there were a few surprise cameos and characters that picked things up just as you were about to get bored. I cant wait to see what Vol.3 holds.

Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first film set in J.k Rowlings magical world to be released in nearly six years, so my expectations were unsurprisingly high going in to this film. However as the film is set to be the first of five I was afraid that it might just be an opportunity to cash in on the original series, and that it might not measure up to the high quality we have come to expect. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

Directed by Harry Potter alum David Yates and adapted by Rowling from her 2001 book of the same name, it is also the authors first stab at screenwriting. It stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who loses a briefcase full of magical creatures in New York City. Although Fantastic Beasts is technically a Harry Potter prequel, it thankfully didn’t rely too heavily on both the previous knowledge of and love for this franchise, though there are a few references that fans will catch. Even if you had never watched any of the previous films or read any of the books you could easily get on board with this film. The costuming, design, and special effects are top notch, and its easy to become immersed in the world they have created.

Redmayne makes a solid “Doctor Who”-esque lead, and paired with Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein they really bring the story to life. Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski very nearly steals every scene that he is in and he has great chemistry with Alison Sudol who plays Queenie Goldstein. Although the film take a while to gain momentum while we get to grips with all the new characters, storylines and locations, once it gets going it really comes into its own. For the most part, it is light hearted with some great laugh out loud moments. The subplot with Colin Farrell as Percival Graves and Ezra Miller as the mawkish Credence Barebone brings a great dark element to the film, and that contrast is something I hope they don’t shy away from with the sequels.

By the end of Fantastic Beasts we have some interesting new revelations to ponder, and it will be interesting to see where the franchise goes from here. Its a great first chapter in what is no doubt going to be a great series.

 

Review: Queens of the stone age – The o2

I have seen Queens of the stone age many times over the years, in venues ranging from the small confines of The Olympia Theatre to the monstrous Spandau Citadel in Berlin. Every show has been different and memorable in its own way so I was looking forward to seeing them in the o2 in Dublin for the first time. They kicked things off with the energetic You think I aint worth a dollar but I feel like a millionaire which got the crowd going. Before the crowd had a chance to take it all in they followed it up with No one knows which unsurprisingly got the biggest reaction of the night.

 Their new album has been very popular so I assumed a hefty portion of the audience wouldn’t be long time fans. It was pretty much confirmed when new songs such as I sat by the ocean drove the crowd wild, but classics such as Monsters in the parasol caused the crowd to become bored and motionless. All in all it was a very new album heavy gig which seemed to keep people happy, out of 21 songs 8 were from their new album Like clockwork. The new album is fantastic so that is by no means a complaint. They still managed to squeeze in classics such as Little sister, Sick sick sick, Make it wit chu and The lost art of keeping a secret among others. Josh regaled the crowd with a few stories throughout the night, the most memorable was the one about a crazy Dublin fan who snuck in to their Van the last time they were playing here. The highlight for me though was Better living through chemistry, Rated r is my favourite of their albums so it was great to hear this seldom played classic amongst the new songs.

 They finished the set with Go with the flow, complete with Songs for the deaf era animations on the screen behind them. After a short exit from the stage they came back for a three song encore that comprised of The vampire of time and memory, I appear missing and a particularly powerful version of A song for the dead. All in all I had a good time, but I have seen them play better gigs. Don’t get me wrong I have seen them play worse gigs too and It was by no means bad but something just seemed a bit lacking at this one. Perhaps It’s because I have seen them so many times and have something to compare it to that I wasn’t as impressed. Either way it wont be the last time I see them, that’s a guarantee.

Interview – Hermitage green

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Although they only formed in July 2010 Hermitage green have already accomplished things that other bands can only dream of. From sell out gigs to recording a live album, 2013 has seen them go from strength to strength. I caught up with band member Darragh to talk about the new album, performing on second captains, and what the future holds for Hermitage green.

You’re releasing a live album this month, what made you choose the Whelans shows to record and release?

Whelans is one of our favourite venues to play. It’s the perfect size for recording a gig and is one the most respected venues in the country. What better place to do it. The album is out on the 22nd of November.

What made you decide  to do a live album and not another studio one?

This is our debut album following our studio EP. We are very much a live band and it is at these gigs that our sound is at its most natural and, basically, where we create the sound we want to be associated with. Things are often different in the studio. There’s more pressure and playing can become a bit rigid so we decided to record where we are most comfortable – on a stage.

Were you nervous performing on those nights knowing that you were recording it to release?

There was definitely extra pressure yes but personally I wasn’t nervous just excited. We were probably a bit on edge the first night but after hearing some of the takes from that gig we knew we were onto something good so just went out a enjoyed ourselves the second night.

Is there anything that you would have done differently?

Not musically no. I would have put a parking ticket on my car though.

 Are you happy with the finished result?

Yes delighted. All the hard work has definitely paid off!

Are there any plans for a studio album?

Give us a chance to breath!!! No plans as such but hopefully around this time next year. We have loads of material so it’s just a matter of finding the right person to work with and the right time.

You’ve been playing a lot of sold out shows the last few months, would you like to be playing bigger venues or do you like playing to an intimate crowd?

Naturally a band will move towards bigger venues to play to more people but you can’t top a quiet intimate gig for me. I’d take that over a packed, noisy venue any day of the week.

You get compared to the likes of mumford and sons quite a bit, does this annoy you or do you take it as a compliment

Bit of both! It’s always flattering to be compared to one of the biggest acts on the planet. However I think it’s a very uninformed comparison that we, and lots of other acoustic bands, have to deal with. As soon as you play a guitar and sing some harmonies you are automatically trying to be Mumford. I think after listening to the live album people will move away from that.

You had  a weekly residency on the popular RTÉ TV sports show Second Captains this year, how did that come about?

Mark Horgan, the producer, got in touch during the summer saying that he’d love for us to play Golden Rule as the introduction to the show. We loved the concept of the show and are all big sports fans so it was a no-brainer.

You’re doing really well outside of Ireland, do you think you will move to follow it or do you plan to stay based in Ireland?

We still have lots left to do in Ireland so we’ll certainly be based here for the foreseeable future. However we love to tour also so any opportunities that come our way, we’ll take them!

You’ve played with a lot of notable artists over the last few months, who else would you most like to collaborate with?

THE STAVES! We’ve never met them but I feel like we have from spending so much time looking in their windows. Mick Flannery is a man I’d love to sit down and write with and same goes for Josh Ritter, both of whom we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Electric picnic 2013 with 7000 people in a sweaty tent.

2013 was a brilliant year for Hermitage green, what do you think 2014 holds?

Loads of festival, touring and an album that will knock your socks off!

On the 23rd and 24th of October this year Hermitage Green played two sold out shows in Dublin’s Whelan’s which were recorded for their forthcoming live album “Hermitage Green – Live At Whelan’s”. This video is a short documentary recorded behind the scenes and during the performances on the nights.

Dublin comic con 2013

Dublin’s first ever Comic con was held in the National show centre in Swords last weekend and I was lucky enough to head along. Tickets were very reasonably priced, a weekend adult pass was only 20e and they sold out very quickly. When I arrive there were hoards of disappointed people being turned away at the door.

 There was quite a lot to see inside and so I spent a few hours working my way around the stalls and exhibitions. On the small scale they had props from various movies such as Batman, Alien and Predator to name but a few. On a larger scale they had the cars from Back to the future, Knight rider and a full sized tardis. I was very impressed with how much effort most of the attendees put into their costumes. There were dozens of doctors, jokers and harley quinns and every other nerdy character you can think of in between. 

There were various workshops throughout the day to keep things fresh where you could learn how to make props, molds, sculptures and prosthetic pieces from professionals SFX and Make Up artists. Or if that didn’t interest you there was always a game tournament to try your hand at, or a live wrestling match outside to go watch.

 It was great to see the very first Dublin Comic con be so successful, I have a feeling its not going to be the last

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Film Review: The Conjuring

It’s being touted as one of the best horror films to be released in recent times, and I would have to say I agree. Set in the 70’s The Conjuring claims to be “based on a true story”. It begins with a short tale about a haunted doll called Annabelle, it’s through this story that we’re introduced to Lorraine (Vera Farminga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson). According to the disclaimer at the start they specialize in paranormal activities, Lorraine is a psychic and Ed is the only non-priest demonologist recognized by the Catholic Church. The disclaimer certainly made what happened in the film seem just that bit creepier.

With Annabelle done with for now we cut to the tale of Carolyn (Lili Taylor) Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five daughters. They move into a new house, and that’s when everything starts to kick off. I really loved how the setting, the clothes, the technology really captured the time period it was set in. It starts off relatively slowly but when the hauntings start it gets very creepy very fast. There are some parts of the film that are very clichéd like the haunted doll, the leg pulls, the child talking to an invisible friend, the cold rooms, but the genuinely creepy parts more than make up for it.

The ghosts and demons that we are confronted with aren’t overly scary when we finally get to see them. But you will probably be watching from behind your hands anyway. It’s more about the build-up, the relentlessness, the very real fear that good might not triumph. It’s hard to say what happens without giving too much away but there are some genuinely scary jump out of your seat parts. There was no real lull or boring parts, and it was an exciting watch right from the start.

While I enjoyed the film I don’t think it’s going to become a cult classic. It definitely has something that all the other recent films in the genre are missing though and it’s well worth a watch.