Category: Venues – The Workmans Club

First Fortnight 2015

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Trailblaze Revolution, Christchurch Cathedral

This is a tricky one to write to be honest – I re-read last year’s post (https://gigaholic.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/first-fortnight-2014/) and can vividly remember how I felt writing that post, and during the festival. To be able to remember things so clearly and yet to know how much changed within the space of a year is a little bit disconcerting to be honest.

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Danny Battles

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The Lost Brothers

During 2014 I became much more involved in First Fortnight, having been asked to get involved with a pretty amazing group of people to do fundraising for the charity. Being more involved has let me see how much goes into this festival from the other side, rather than as a volunteer or as a spectator. The fact that this festival has been created by a bunch of volunteers is simply mind-blowing. That said, being more involved makes it challenging to write a review of it, so I’m not even going to attempt it. It’s impossible for me to be unbiased so all I’ll say is if you haven’t been to a First Fortnight event yet, then check out the festival next January, or one of the fundraising events during the year. I think that’s the fairest way of me keeping Gigaholic true to my views but without letting my love of this festival skew any review I wrote of it.

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I Have a Tribe

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State Lights
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Booka Brass Band

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I toyed with using this post as another spot of free therapy, but it a) doesn’t seem fitting, and b) doesn’t really seem needed. This year has given me so much more confidence – it is impossible to see how much can be achieved by a small group of volunteers with some big ideas, without some of that confidence rubbing off. Hard to sum up how grateful I am for that, so I’m not even going to try.

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Ben Ottewell

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I have been a massive fan of Ben Ottewell since the Gomez days of my late teens/early 20s (I’m showing my age now!). While his solo work obviously doesn’t allow any of the unusual harmonies he could create with Ian and Tom as part of Gomez, his unique voice means that his solo work is a treat to listen to.

I reviewed the gig in more detail (see below) but just remember this night as one of my favourite types of charming intimate gigs where the focus is on the quality of the vocals and songwriting rather than the bells-and-whistles that go into bigger productions. Support act Michele Stodart was fantastic also.

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Michele Stodart

This gig was originally reviewed for Ceol Collective which has now ceased operations. The review that was published is preserved for posterity here!

Taking to the Workman’s Club’s stage on a freezing, sleeting night in Dublin, Ben Ottewell’s intimate acoustic set was simply brilliant. Opening with the title tracks from his two solo albums, his recent release “Rattlebag” and 2011’s “Shapes and Shadows”, Ben set the tone for the night. He brought the audience on a meandering journey through his solo material, but also treated the crowd to some beautiful versions of Gomez classics, which pleased the more vocal members of the audience.

His distinctive voice continues to blend a rich smooth baritone with a hint of gargling with whiskey and gravel. Added to this the fact that he is also an extremely talented guitar player, means that with a Ben Ottewell show, you’re never going to be disappointed. He also managed to successfully balance playing solo tracks, as this is his solo tour, with pleasing the crowd with imaginative takes on Gomez numbers – always a tricky ask.

Personal favourites on the night were his solo tracks “Blackbird” (“Not the Beatle’s one”, as he pointed out) and “Starlings” (“Not Elbow’s One”, he giggled, leading to him stating that he “really needs to think up some more original song titles!”). However, hearing his solo takes on old Gomez favourites like “Get Miles”. “Love is Better than a Warm Trombone” and “Tijuana Lady” stole the show.

Special mention must be made to support act Michele Stodart, bass player from The Magic Numbers. Charming, talented and endearing, she opened the night in style. Catch more from Michele here (https://soundcloud.com/michelestodart).

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Speech Development Records Tour

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Excitement would have been an understatement for how I felt about this show. Still mourning the end of Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip as a duo, the opportunity to see some of the finest acts signed to Scroob’s Speech Development Records label was too good to resist. I’m so glad I didn’t because this gig was simply amazing – packed, loud, and sweaty, this was gigging at its best.

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Star of the show B Dolan is a real showman, with dance offs and banter with the crowd doing little to distract from his full-on live show. He has a unique brand of angry music that often makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The fact that Scroobius Pip made a brief guest appearance was the icing on the cake. This gig also gave me my first chance to see Scroobius Pip doing spoken word, an opportunity that I hope will be repeated in the not too distant future.


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 The Amazing B Dolan, with Scroobius Pip

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Warren Peace

First Fortnight 2014

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As is rapidly becoming a January tradition for me (and by the look of the crowds, for lots of people!), my first outing of the year was to First Fortnight, Ireland’s mental health arts festival. I’ve talked previously about how amazing I think this festival is, with its mix of music, poetry, art, film and theatre in addition to discussion forums. The fact that year-on-year, this festival has managed to gather growing crowds at a time of year when the tendency is to hibernate, and to keep prices at a level that allows people to come when no-one is feeling flush, is a testament to just how brilliantly organised it is. The growing numbers in attendance mean that the festival is continuing to spread its message of normalising the discussion of mental health in Ireland, and continuing to challenge mental health prejudice through the creative arts. In a country that seems to only be slowly coming to the realisation that talking is important, the open discussion that takes place at the First Fortnight events encourages people to talk but manages to avoid being preachy.

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20140111_215424The Academic (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) – disgustingly talented for ones so young!

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Come on Live Long (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) 20140111_232609

Heathers (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) 20140112_010810 Vann Music (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory)

This year, I went to more events than usual. Apart from my traditional trips to the Therapy Sessions music and poetry events, and the Finale gig featuring some of the best Irish acts around at the moment, I went to Silver Linings Playbook followed by a discussion panel and a play so brilliant that I went back to see it again and brought my parents – Confusion Boats (I’m not going to say anything about this other than that I think Ger Kelly, writer and star, is a serious talent, and that everyone should go see it!).

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Laura Elizabeth Hughes (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) 20140103_220914

Ger Kelly (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) – he writes, he acts, he sings, is there nothing he can’t do? 20140103_222935

Mark Geary (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) 20140103_234247Daithi (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) – disappointingly small crowd hung around for his set, which was brilliant as always

I also did some volunteering at the festival for the first time this year. From freezing my arse off at Happy Clouds to getting a chance to see the Poetry Slam, the Milk and Cookies storytelling and baking evening, and the No Room at the Inn mental health service discussion forum – volunteering at this festival was such a privilege. Tiring, but a privilege! The organisers are the nicest, most hard working group of people you’ll ever meet. The fact that this group of my peers (they are normal people, with day jobs, who organise this festival on a voluntary basis) can achieve something so amazing – well, it is humbling, inspirational and just a little bit intimidating!

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Susan Quirke (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – she may have been nervous but she played a belter of a set

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Evie Murtagh (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – another terrifyingly talented youngster 20140110_222700

Idiot Sounds (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – slightly more alternative than I could deal with, I’m afraid 20140110_230745Tara Lee (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club)

In last year’s blog (https://gigaholic.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/first-fortnight-2013/), I touched on why this festival means so much to me, and now that I’ve had a chance to be involved in it in a small way, it means even more. The next piece of this post is something I’ve struggled with – I just couldn’t decide whether to include it or not. I’ve never revealed a huge amount of personal information in this blog, and this was deliberate. Last year’s First Fortnight post was probably the most I’ve spoken about myself here but I felt that in the spirit of what the festival is all about, it was appropriate. And I still feel like, when it comes to First Fortnight, sharing honestly is the least I can do.

 

So, in that spirit, here goes. While I’ve had my issues (haven’t we all?), I’ve been lucky that they have never been too severe, in the greater scheme of things. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t almost cripple me with self-doubt at times – trust me, my brain is often my own worst enemy. I really wanted to sign up to volunteer for First Fortnight for quite some time, but I had to think long and hard about whether I was actually up to it. While I’ve made huge strides in working on myself and my confidence from my lowest point at the end of 2012, I still have my bad patches. The last thing I wanted to do to the First Fortnight organisers was sign up and then back out, which is my pattern when things get too much – but I decided it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone. If I’m honest, I was so nervous on my first day volunteering that I didn’t know whether I wanted to cry or puke, and nearly turned back so many times. I’m sure the people who met me at that first event probably thought I was some kind of mute – nope, not mute, just terrified. But it got easier, and easier, with each event I helped at – luckily, I helped out at quite a few events, so my lasting memory is of how much fun I had, and not how scared and out-of-place I felt initially. The people running this festival are so welcoming, the other volunteers were a lovely bunch, and I am going to be the first in line to sign up to volunteer again next year.

 

If anyone has actually bothered to read until the end of this blog, well done – I think I’d have given up long ago if I wasn’t writing it! Thanks for sticking with it, and letting me share, even though it doesn’t really fit in with what Gigaholic is about. And if anyone who made it this far happens to be a part of First Fortnight, I hope you know how amazing what you’ve created is. From the fact that I look forward to the festival every January, to the fact that I often take a different route to work just so that I can see Maser’s You Are Alive wall on Camden St, First Fortnight has really got under my skin. I don’t think I can express how much being involved in First Fortnight 2014 meant to me, mainly for the amazing festival it is, but also for proving to myself that despite being terrified, I could do it. So, thank you. It’s not enough, but it’s all I can say – thank you. Roll on First Fortnight 2015!

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Stuart Semple’s Happy Clouds (First Fortnight, Meeting House Square)

FMC Tour

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The First Music Contact tour brought some of the best Irish acts to a number of venues around the country, and I went along to the Workmans Club gig  – well I was hardly going to miss a chance to see Daithi and Le Galaxie in a relatively small venue, seeing as both are on a fairly stratospheric rise at the moment and unlikely to be playing in venues like these for much longer.

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And just like at St Patrick’s Day, I got to bring a friend who had never seen Le Galaxie before, which is always something special. There’s not much more I can say about Le Galaxie that I haven’t said before – but the fact that this gig included Mick Pope crowd surfing and them blasting out new songs to a crowd that were more than ready to hear them made this gig feel just that little bit special.

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Liza Flume

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It was around this time of 2013 that I realised that I with the tickets I had already bought that I was going to be going to 46 gigs that year. I decided that with a number so tantalisingly close to averaging one a week that I really wanted to find a few more gigs and try to hit that milestone. I only had a couple of months left so it was going to mean going to multiple gigs each week – which, to be honest, is no hardship, but can be take its toll on the amount of sleep I get!

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So I trawled the gig listings, and boy was I glad I did. Liza Flume was playing a gig in the Workman’s Club – and it was a night that I was free so off I went. Her show was amazing. Seriously talented – this girl can create more rhythm and melody with a loop pedal, clicking fingers, a guitar and her voice than a lot of the full bands I’ve seen. She came across as so humble, repeatedly referring to the fact that she was amazed that there were more people in the room than she knew in real life – it’s always amazing to see someone with so much potential being so surprised that people actually want to come to see them!

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Liza Flume with Brona Keogh and Katie Lynn from Gypsy Rebel Rabble

Dan le Sac versus Scroobius Pip

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Dan le Sac versus Scroobius Pip are one of my favourite acts, and have been for years. Getting sick and missing part of one of their shows was integral to me starting this whole “go to as many gigs as I can” endeavour!

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I have seen them a few times before and have caught a few of Scroobius Pip’s solo shows as well. Something about this show was different though. I’m not going to lie…I geeked out in a huge way. I hadn’t been this excited at a gig in a few years, and I can’t put my finger on why, on what was different about this show! I’ve always connected with their older stuff, but some of their new songs are brilliant, and their sound has really developed.

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With Scroob’s lyrics becoming apparently more autobiographical and some insanely good new beats from Dan le Sac, they just keep getting better and better. Their support act Prolyphic and Buddy Peace were also amazing.

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