Originally published in The Irish Times, May 7th 2014
SAY WHAT YOU like about Tori Amos, but you can’t accuse her of coasting through life. Having established herself as both an enormously successful and exceptionally diverse alternative songwriter in the 1990s with albums like Boys for Pele and even dance remixes like Professional Widow, the warm, slightly eccentric musician’s more recent projects may have flown under the mainstream radar. They include a Christmas-themed album (2009’s Midwinter Graces), a classical album released via Deutsche Grammophon (2011’s Night of Hunters) and composing for a musical stage adaptation of 19th century fairytale The Light Princess last year. But make no bones about it: she has been a busy woman.
Originally published in The Irish Times, March 1st 2013.
THERE ARE confessional songwriters, and then there is John Grant. The Michigan-born, Colorado-raised musician had been celebrated as a lyricist throughout his tenure with The Czars, the band he fronted for ten years until their split in 2004. Yet it was the release of his astounding solo debut Queen of Denmark in 2010 that his propensity for pouring his heart and soul – metaphorical warts and all – brought his music to a wider audience.
Originally published in The Irish Times, September 14th 2012.
TO DESCRIBE Brandon Flowers as “your run-of-the-mill rock star” would not be entirely truthful. Sitting across from The Killers frontman and his wild-haired bandmate Dave Keunig, it’s impossible to suss what Flowers is really thinking. It seems clear that he’s not a fan of interviews; he constantly glances towards the dressing room door (plotting an escape route, perhaps?), answers most questions curtly and seems generally guarded and somewhat reserved. He looks younger than his 31 years, his voice retaining the twang of his Nevada upbringing, his laugh more of a nervous, high-pitched titter. While the leaders of most rock bands naturally ooze charisma, Flowers’ cagey private persona seems at odds with the man who, an hour later, takes to the stage at Electric Picnic to deliver a supremely selfassured headline set.
Originally published in The Irish Times, November 2nd 2012.
IT’S NOT THAT David Gedge is tired, but being the sole member of an iconic 1980s guitar band for almost three decades does tend to wear one down. As frontman of The Wedding Present, the band that Gedge formed in 1985, he has been almost exclusively responsible for its input (there have been numerous line-up changes over the years) and output (that’d be the nine albums released since 1987’s George Best, not including his releases under the Cinerama banner).
Not that he’s complaining, mind. Now 52 and in full retention of the Leeds brogue that decades of touring worldwide has failed to erode, Gedge is fully accepting of his fate. Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Times, May 25th 2012.
“First of all, I’d like to know what other band in the world gets called ‘dadrock’? What other band is there? I don’t know why Wilco’s the only band that gets called that. It seems absurd to me. I think it’s fuckin’ ridiculous.”
Originally published in The Irish Times, September 3rd 2012.
Where do you start after a six-year absence? If you’re Grandaddy, you start with the hits. The Californian indie-rock quintet have made Electric Picnic one of the stops on their month-long reunion lap, but rather than forcing new material on an expectant audience, this was a complete exercise in crowd-pleasing.
Opening with El Camino’s in the West, Jason Lytle and Co may not say a whole lot to the crowd, but with tunes like a Now It’s On, AM 180 and The Crystal Lake in your canon, why waste time with niceties?
Aaron Burtch amusingly puffs away on a cigarette hands-free as he drums, and Lytle swigs from a bottle of wine between songs; they’re having fun and it’s like they’ve never been away. How about you stick around a little longer, guys? Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Times, April 20th 2012.
THE FIRST THING you think of is Freud. Then, noticing the relaxed posture, Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra, or perhaps a painting by some Renaissance artist. It’s not quite clear whether Rufus Wainwright is waiting to be psycho-analysed or pampered, but stretched out on a sofa in a room of a trendy London hotel, the singer/songwriter certainly looks comfortable.
“He felt like he was coming down with something yesterday, so he did most of his interviews lying down,” his publicist explains. And today? “Oh no, he feels fine today. He’s just relaxing.” Continue reading