Gigs of the week: March 20-26

MORRISSEY, Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Tuesday

Picture 6ASIDE from his role as one of the last great iconic frontmen, Morrissey’s greatest talent these days seems to be keeping us all guessing.

After Morrissey bowed out before Christmas in his shows in the UK and Dublin, many called it out as his swansong. He had spent the best part of a year battling illness, cancelling shows because of cancer treatment and   bleeding stomach ulcers, and lost another record deal when Harvest dumped him over his complaints that they weren’t promoting his album World Peace is None of Your Business.

Even his parting on-stage message of “remember me, forget my fate” had armchair shrinks predicting Steven Patrick’s actual demise, to really close the lid on his story. But just a few weeks after he closed the curtain in Dublin with a tear-jerking Every Day Is Like Sunday, Moz started the new year by announcing another leg of European dates, taking in all the UK towns he missed in 2014, and adding Belfast to the diary.

So this time around we’re hoping tickets aren’t shifting on the back of a ‘last stand’ assumption — but another chance to catch one of music’s most singular performers raging against the dying of the light.

After the Dublin gig, some moaned that he focused too much on the new LP, but this stubborn refusal to dine out on The Smiths for eternity keeps Morrissey vital. And we’re not sure fans were short-changed by a set that included Suedehead, Speedway, Asleep and The Queen Is Dead, with a backdrop of Liz giving the finger.

Morrissey joked that Harvest made World Peace… so hard to find in shops that he had to play it in full — while his band all wore ‘Fuck Harvest Records’ T-shirts. As it stands, the album will surely go down as one of his best — a collection full of widescreen musical flourishes and enough arch slogans to fill 100 T-shirts.

Picture 16USHER, 3Arena, Dublin, tonight / Odyssey Arena, Belfast, tomorrow
KING of schmaltz Usher could make Lionel Richie look like Slayer — and he’s in Ireland for two nights of slow-set R&B for his throngs of not-so secret admirers. This UR Experience tour is billed as a greatest hits extravaganza, so expect a run-through of Nice & Slow, U Remind Me, Yeah! and OMG in between flashes of his abs.

CO-PRESENT SHOWCASE, The Mezz, Dublin, tonight, FREEPicture 17
THE Co-Present on host another showcase of Irish acts, welcoming three up-and-coming bands to the Mezz in Temple Bar. Headlined by Women’s Christmas, there’ll also be dream-pop from Segrasso and alt-folk from The Evolution Project. It’s free, so the excuse that you spent all your cash on Paddy’s Day won’t wash.

Picture 13JOHN TALABOT, District 8, Dublin, tomorrow
BARCELONA house don John Talabot has already been booked for this year’s Body & Soul as one half of Talaboman with Axel Boman — another festival sot for one of Ireland’s favourite repeat visitors. He’s got a lot of mileage out of his majestic 2012 album Fin, and expect a similar set of deep cuts and trademark remixes in District 8 tomorrow.

RUSTIE, Twisted Pepper, Dublin, tomorrowPicture 1
HYPER kinetic electronic producer won’t give your ears a second to recalibrate between beats, as he finally takes his 2014 album Green Language to Dublin. Like fellow Glasgow man Hudson Mohawke, Rustie slices through genres and conventions, on a tightrope of skittery beats and gleaming synths.

Picture 14SLEATER-KINNEY, Vicar St, Dublin, Thursday
FEW bands on the comeback trail have had as easy a return as alt-rockers Sleater-Kinney, whose new album No Cities To Love is already set in stone as one of their best. The Washington trio picked up after 10 years with another raucous racket, full of arch lyrics and enough hooks to sink the bands that sprung up over the last decade.

YOUNG FATHERS, Academy, Dublin, Thursday
EDINBURGH trio Young Fathers won’t be one of those acts that get strangled by winning the Mercury Music Prize. Their LP Dead may have landed the gong, but their incendiary live shows make more headlines — and their upcoming album White Men Are Black Men Too will be another hammer to hip-hop expectations.


Original version in Irish Daily Star