Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Return of the King

Dave and I were at the opening night of Elvis - Return of the King last night in the Tivoli.  It's kinda hard to classify this show and I didn't really know what to expect - part drama, part historical recreation, part concert.  Whatever it was: we were entertained.

The concept is based on Elvis's 1968 Comeback Special which was recorded in a couple of sessions at the Burbank studies in California.  I looked at some youtube videos in preparation and the costumes, set design and scripts are spot on.  Kevin Doyle, an already seasoned Presley performer, has his mannerisms and vocals down to a tee.  Close your eyes and you'd think you were listening to the man himself.  He's backed by the Way it Was Orchestra and the Valley Gospel Singers - who also do some songs.  These groups have been working together for years and you can tell it from their relaxed, easy style of performing.  One particularly strong segment, taken direct from the original show, is where Elvis sits down with 3 guys and 4 guitars and more or less takes requests from the audience.  I don't think those calling out songs in the audience were plants, but they actually played a couple of songs as requested, which shows the impressive familiarity with Elvis's back catalogue.

There were several funny moments - hard to tell whether they were ad libbed or not.  Kevin Doyle is performing in leather and he sits down at one stage, commenting "another successful sitting down in leather"!
The second act moves on to Elvis's time in Las Vegas and opens with a brilliant performance of Creedance Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary and finished with "Suspicious Minds" and "Bossanova" (just as I was saying to Dave "I can't believe they didn't play Suspicious Minds?")!

There's no doubt that type of show is going to appeal to a certain age group.  We didn't know every song performed but judging by the audience singalong and participation elements, we were in the minority.  People were up dancing for the last few numbers.  Despite not being the target age group: we really enjoyed it and I wouldn't let it deter you from going.

Return of the King runs until 10th March.  Tickets are a modest €20 - €28.50 and booked by booked on the Tivoli website.  There's also really handy parking right beside the theatre - €5 for the evening.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


There'll be a live link to TED on Wednesday 29th from 4:30 pm in the County Library, Tallaght. Admission is free. Details of the event are here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Rise & Rise of Craft Beer in Dublin

At the risk of exposing yet another of my nerdy habits, I was in the Black Sheep on Capel St last night.  It's one of a growing number of pubs in Dublin who avoid the usual Budweiser/Carsberg/Guinness beers in favour of smaller breweries.  Anyone who has been to a free house in the UK will find this a familiar concept. There are now several microbreweries operating all over Ireland.  More and more "normal" pubs are stocking craft beer.  Most craft beer pubs do pub food too and usually will have recommended beers for each meal.

The originator in Dublin of this type of pub is the original Porterhouse in Temple Bar.  The Porterhouse is something of an empire these days, with branches in Phibsboro, Nassau St, Bray as well as abroad in London and New York.  Joining the original generation of craft beer pubs is the Bull & Castle beside Christchurch.  The Bull & Castle has a Bavarian style beer hall upstairs with a vast array of international beers in bottle and on draught.  My one complaint of both the Porterhouse and the Bull & Castle is they're extremely noisy.  The former often has live music which makes it even louder and the B&C show sport on a big screen.  The third originator of craft beer in Dublin is Messr Maguires on Burgh Quay, which is a kind of hybrid selling conventional beers along with their own brewed fare.

Leading the pack (in my opinion) is L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter.  I've heard more than one story about people walking in, asking for Guinness, finding they didn't stock, and staying anyway to drink something better.  They do excellent food too.  The one downside of Mulligans is their location - Stoneybatter is at best a LUAS ride away from the city centre, and if, like me, you're coming from northside suburbs, that is a pain in the ass.  However, they are currently renovating WJ Kavanaghs just off Dorset St (near Temple St) and hope to be open sometime next month.

The Black Sheep has a lovely quiet atmosphere.  A number of people were playing board or card games, mostly from a stock provided by the bar.  They also serve food and are part of the Against the Grain company, who are on Wexford St.  I haven't been there yet but it's on my list.  The Gingerman on Fenian St also stocks some craft beers on tap.  The Twisted Pepper, sharing the space with Dave's beloved 3FE, also has a few different beers.

This is just a small selection of the places I'm aware of in Dublin that are now stocking craft beer.  If you more details, then get straight over to who maintain a complete list for the whole country.  They also brought us the Irish Craft Beer Festival in the RDS last September, which I very much hope will become an annual event.

A final word of warning though: regularly going to these pubs will make you turn your nose up at muggle pubs and for me has led to drinking soft drinks, if I can't get anything good.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Strictly Come Dancing at the O2 - a review

Some would say that most things happening at the O2 (or the Point as I still call it) are not cultural, and a lot of the time, these people are right.  But that doesn't mean I should review immensely popular events.  Right?

I was at the second of 2 nights of the Strictly Come Dancing live tour last night.  It has become an annual event with a certain group of friends.  We all dress up, have dinner before, and then enjoy the show.  The audience was overwhelmingly female with a fair amount of kids.  There were almost no empty seats and the dance floor, smaller than previous years, was clearly visible from most areas of the venue.  I hardly ever resorted to the video screens to see the dancing properly. 

This year's tour featured 6 celebs from the most recent series (including the finalists: Chelsee Healy, Jason Donovan and winner Harry Judd) and one from a previous series.  The 3 male judges were all present - Alesha has never done the tour and since she defected quit Strictly to go to Britain's Got Talent in January, she wasn't about to deviate from the norm.  Each couple danced two dances (one ballroom, one latin) and were scored.  The audience picks the winner by texting.  There's also a couple of group dances and some professional only dances.  Jason and Kristina won on the night: their Argentine Tango just pipped my dance of the evening from Harry & Aliona's super Quickstep.

I'm making it sound a little dull but it isn't.  There's more glitter than a Mariah Carey album. There's more fake tan than a beauty contest.  There's more cringeworthy raunchy scripted dialogue than Blind Date.  It's more camp than a row of pink tents.  It's FAB-U-LOUS, dahling.  Will we be back next year?  Absolutely.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


A new one woman play called Flux opens next Tuesday night in the Pearse Centre at the Ireland Institute*.  It's written by Aoife Nic Ardghail, who also stars in the show.  Daragh Thomas provides music to Jennifer Shortall's direction.  Here's the blurb:

Three lives, three women, each with a separate voice and separate desires, come together to produce a powerful music. But power can corrupt. When the desire of one threatens to destroy the power of three. Can balance be restored?

The show runs nightly for one week from 28th February to 3rd March with a matinée performance Saturday.  Tickets are €12 on the door or you can book on 087 9548514.

*This is the building Padraig Pearse was born and is, unsurprisingly, at 27 Pearse St, near the Garda station.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Dublintellectual event - Uprising

As regular readers will know, I'm a fan of Dublintellectual. Dublintellectual is one of the best things to happen to Dublin's cultural scene in recent times, their events are a lot of fun, and they're now launching a new series called 'Uprising'. Here's their description:
Dublintellectual is delighted to announce the launch of the Uprising: Young Scholars & Artists in Dialogue event series which will showcase the work of postgraduate students and young artists, writers and musicians in Dublin. The first event will take place next Thursday 23rd Feb at 19:30 in The Generator, Smithfield.

The Uprising series will involve discussions on culture, common points in research and creative work, as well as practical issues facing emerging scholars and artists and will comprise 3-5 invited presenters, discussing their research or creative work and answering audience questions.

They've said that the format will be informal and relaxed. Plus, this is a chance to check out The Generator. If you're free on Thursday, I'd recommend going along.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New exhibition in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios: 'Lights, Camera, Action!'

A new exhibition previews from 6 pm to 8 pm on Saturday 25th February in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, with an introductory talk by the curator before that at 5 pm. Here's how TBG+S describe the exhibition, called 'Lights, Camera, Action!':
The processes and devices employed in narrative cinema are often subsumed by the visual nature of the medium. This exhibition brings together artists whose work investigates the cinematic process; creating narratives adopted or appropriated from film and the cine-novel, the works allude to the underlying psychological aspect that is integral to the creation of tension within cinema.

The exhibition will then continue from February 28th to 31st March. Details are here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kathrina Rupit exhibition in Little Green St Gallery

I have a suggestion for you: if you haven't been to an art exhibition opening night, try one out some time. Sure, it's a hit and miss affair, but it can be a lot of fun. And I have of course an example to start you off with.

There's an art gallery on the corner of Little Britain Street and Little Green Street called the Little Green Street Gallery. Fittingly for its name, this is quite a small space, and that makes it just the right size for a one-artist exhibition. Saturday 25th February is the opening night for Mexican street artist Kathrina Rupit. Here's what White Lady Art say about it:

White Lady Art is very pleased and proud to present the very first Irish solo show of Mexican street artist, Kathrina Rupit, at the Little Green St Gallery, just off Capel St. You may recognise her work from the October art show, and we loved her work so much we decided to present you with an exhibition of all of her work to date! Check out the online catalogue for a sneak peak of what will be on the walls at the show, and make a date for your diaries for the opening night...we are going to have a bevvy or two from our pals at Tiger Beer, and the lovely Jason at Fibbers Rock Bar, Ormond Quay, has arranged our after-party too. What a star! With drinks on special and an opening night of such Mexican magnitude, it's going to be a good one, folks!

Here at White Lady Art, we're into our affordable art! Kathrina's original paintings will be for sale, and not too pricey, as well as some amazing pieces done on very special industrial paper that will go for €20. These aren't your regular exhibition prints, mind, but are hand-painting originals! Who said art was expensive?!!

Where: Little Green Street Gallery, 12A Little Britain Street, Dublin 7. Free entry!

When: Saturday 25th February opening night (6-9), runs until Tuesday 28th February.

And then...?: After-party at Fibbers Rock Bar, Ormond Quay, €4 drinks including spirits (5 shots of Jägermeister for €15).

I'm looking forward to it. Cheap art and cheap beer: a winning combination.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whiskey tasting in March

Any whiskey drinkers in Dublin will be familiar with the Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street. They're running an Irish Whiskey Tasting event on Thursday 15th in 'Against The Grain' on Wexford Street. The start time is 7:30 pm and the price is €20, paid in advance. They'll be trying out eight whiskeys including blended whiskey, single malt whiskey, and single pot still whiskey.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Irish Composer Andrew Hamilton speaks at Trinity College

Straight from the press release:
On Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, the Music Composition Centre at Trinity College will host a talk by internationally renowned composer Andrew Hamilton. The talk will take place from 6-8pm the Boydell Room in House 5, Trinity College.

Hamilton will focus on his recent piece "right and wrong" (2011) and will examine in detail his writing process and the various types of music that inform it.

The talk is free, but tickets must be reserved by emailing Claire Hefferon at

The event is on 23rd February. More details are here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Muse Open Mic at the Loft Bookshop

The second Muse Open Mic is on Tuesday 14th February from 7 pm to 9 pm. Here's the description of Muse Open Mic by the organiser, poet and musician Orla Martin:
Muse Open Mic provides a showcase for poets, musicians, singers and prose writers to perform new and original material in a supportive environment. As each performer is limited to three minutes per slot, Muse Open Mic is always entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking and never dull.

Admission is free. The event is on in The Loft Bookshop in the Twisted Pepper on Middle Abbey Street.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feeding Times at Science Gallery

The latest exhibition from the highly acclaimed Science Gallery started on Friday. It's called Edible and its subject is food:
Who knew that a forkful of food could have such a far reaching effect? Science Gallery’s first foray into food, EDIBLE, tackles this vast topic from the perspective of the eater, probing how our actions as eaters shape what is sown, grown, harvested and consumed.

The exhibition pieces are moderately interesting (although in my opinion not a match for last year's excellent Elements) but with an exhibition about food Science Gallery has the opportunity to give visitors the chance to try out tasty and unusual foods. They've called this Feeding Time, and for just €3 you can sample the latest delicacy on offer. Today (Sunday 12th February) there are two Feeding Times, at 15:00 and 17:00, and the 'special' is carrot and sea spaghetti salad. (I had this yesterday - it's good.) Along with the main dish there are other small samples to taste, such as seaweed, cheese and preserves. Don't except a full meal; this is just a tasting. Pre-booking is advised.

The administration of Feeding Times is disappointingly burocratic. As much as I like their catchily-named tickets ("Ration Cards", right) the system seems slightly confusing to customers. Some items are free and served throughout the day; others have a cost and are at Feeding Times. Payment and Ration Cards are away from the tasting area, at the front fesk of the exhibition - not, mind you, the front desk of Science Gallery. I don't want to overstate this issue though, as it's merely a nuisance rather than a real problem.

The poor acoustics are also unfortunate, but ultimately Feeding Time is about taste, and on that count I liked it. Edible is another good exhibition from Science Gallery, and if you visit the exhibition I'd recommend going to a Feeding Time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Festival of Russian Culture

The Festival of Russian Culture is back for another week of cultural events from 20th - 26th February.  Dublin City Council are running it in conjunction with the Russian Department at Trinity.  This particular week is marks the beginning of Spring in Russia and the start of Lent, so you can expect a large pile of lovely blinis.  This year's program is more comprehensive and has a decidedly family orientated base.  They'll be showing a number of Russian films at the Lighthouse cinema over the week (some are part of the JDIFF).  There's chess workshops all day on 23rd February.  Most evenings feature a lecture on some Russian theme in Trinity.  Cooks Academy in Dun Laoghaire is doing an evening on Russian cuisine.  The last day is a family day all around Temple Bar on 26th February with food, stories, games and various performers.  Oleg Pogudin, the famous Russian singer, will also do two concerts in the Olympia that day - it's the first time he's performed in Dublin.  There's definitely something for everyone here.

Dublintellectual - Conversations on Culture

Dublintellectual have really shifted up a gear this year. They've had two Conversations on Culture events already, and their next one is on Wendesday 15th in the Ormond Wine Bar at 20:00. They'll also have an event in early March - and then there'll be their Uprising series for younger/less qualified speakers, along with their Urban Programme.

One of the topics next week could be fascinating - "The Republican Party, American Foreign Policy and the 2012 Presidential Election".

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New(ish) plays

Firstly, I'd like to mention one of the plays currently running in Project Arts Centre, The Goddess of Liberty (pictured right), "a story of family, friendship and survival among Irish immigrants in gold-rush Alaska". I have not, unfortunately, yet had the chance to see it, but as Project Arts generally select good plays and this one was supported by Fishamble it seems right to at least mention that that the play is out until 18th February.

Secondly, Bookworms by Bernard Farrell previews this evening in the Abbey Theatre. (Unlike The Goddess of Liberty, this isn't a newly-written play.) Here's the blurb:
Everyone’s favourite book club reforms for more wine, cheese and outrageous revelations, as the hugely successful Bookworms by Bernard Farrell returns to the Abbey stage.

Tonight’s book club host, Ann, is struggling to stay calm, desperate to deliver the perfect evening of literary classics and late-night canapés. But when the all-female group invite their husbands to join the club, and a mysterious figure pays a visit from upstairs, everyone is forced to contend with a lot more than just Virginia Woolf.

Opinions are challenged; suspicions aroused and tempers flare as their daily lives unravel into a saga to rival even the wildest fiction.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Sentinel Project

Irish sculptor Sean Campbell's latest exhibition, The Sentinel Project, opens this coming Thursday in the crypt of Christchurch Cathedral and runs until 3rd March.  It will feature pieces in steel, glass and Lego.  Yes, you read that right.  I can't wait to see it!

Lazy Posting

Today's Irish Times have a feature about cut price culture.  It covers the whole country but has several items of interest for Dubliners.  Check it out.

Etchings exhibition - solo exhibition by Camilla Fanning


The exhibition runs until the end of February 2012 in Rigby's Deli & Dining Room, 126 Upper Leeson Street. Details are here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday night at the National Concert Hall

I was at the National Concert Hall on Friday night to hear the National Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven's 8th symphony and Shostakovich's 7th symphony.  I'm always saying to Dave and Nina that we should cover more music but for whatever reason, we don't hear about it or we personally aren't keen.  This, I was keen on.  Shostakovich is my favourite composer and having lived in St. Petersburg, I have always liked his 7th symphony, which was besieged during World War II while he wrote this.  And it is magnificent to hear live.  There was approximately 116 musicians on the stage for it.  We were sitting in the choir balcony (aka cheap seats) which meant we could see down into the orchestra and the conductor's face as he conducted.  I don't know why you wouldn't always sit there!  I mean seriously €10 for over 2 hours of fantastic talent.  Andrew Litton was the conductor and he was brilliant.  The place was mostly full and only a tiny number of people were asleep!  If you've never heard an orchestra perform, then you really are missing out.

The NCH has something on most nights of the week and there is music to suit most people's ear.
Go forth and listen!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

JDIFF is back and I've attempted to trawl their (as usual) incomprehensible website.  I don't know why they make it so hard to find a list of all the films on one page.  Stellan Skarsgard is in town to launch and apparently Al Pacino will be putting in an appearance.  I was at the final movie last year (Potiche - see it, it's funny) and was annoyed at all the pretentious speech making before the movie started.  Apparently, this is a feature.  For me, there's not enough old movies, but I do see the original Batman movie, complete with Prince soundtrack is showing.  I saw that in the Grand cinema in Fairview when I was a kid.  That cinema is now a Tesco.  Urgh.  The Lighthouse, The Savoy, IFI and Cineworld are the main venues.

Films I want to see:

17th Feb
Womb (Eva Green clones her lover)
Damsels in Distress (sounds like Clueless crossed with Heathers)
18th Feb
Superclásico (a Danish comedy in Buenos Aires)
Albert Nobbs (filmed in Dublin, Glenn Close attending, expect this to get a mainstream release though)
19th Feb
Black Gold (Arabs fight over stuff in the 1930s - looks visually impressive)
Bel Ami (a lot of good looking people in a social climbing 1880s Paris)
22nd Feb
A Quiet Life (a hitman returns to a life he abandoned 20 years previously - the director will attend)
Stella Days (Martin Sheen is a priest in 1950s Ireland, President Bartlett himself attending)
The Day I was not born (a young woman who didn't know she was adopted discovers her past)
25th Feb
A Royal Affair (Danish royals have an affair - true story ish)
Hunky Dory (Minnie Driver in the 1970s puts on The Tempest at a school - expect a good soundtrack, probably no crisps though)
26th Feb
Bambi (bring the tissues: I don't think they've changed the story)

I might have been interested in Wilde Salome but I heard it's already sold out.  Tickets went on sale last night.  So here's my problem - a lot of these movies are on the same day, and have only one showing.  I need to learn how to bi-locate.  Obviously, I'm not going to get through even half this ambitious list of movies.  Should JDIFF be putting on fewer movies and showing them a couple of times?  I think it's more likely I will view some of these movies on video or not at all.  First world problems, I know.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another First Second

Joining Temple Bar's First Thursdays*, and the OPW's First Wednesdays**, is Second Fridays at the National Library.  They are informal evenings of music, talk, and writers reading pieces of their work.  These events will take place in Cafe Joly from 19:00 - 22:00 and are completely free.  The first event on Friday, 10th February will feature jazz from the Louis Stewart Trio and some readings.  If you have a NLI reader card, you get 10% in the café too.

*Tomorrow is a First Thursday.
**Unclear if the OPW is carrying this on in 2012 as yet.