BRYAN FERRY, Olympia, Dublin, Wednesday and Thursday, €71.50-83.
It’s been a few decades since Bryan Ferry was considered part of the art-rock avant-garde, but behind the smoking jackets, white suits and bow ties lies one of popular music’s great innovators.
Along with Brian Eno, Ferry added ironic sophistication to early 70s rock with Roxy Music — adding feather boa glam without really being ‘glam’.
On their debut album and its follow-up For Your Pleasure, Roxy Music rivalled Bowie for experimentation and often went one better, with Eno tangled up in modular synth leads and Ferry referencing Lolita and Guernica, and a grim love song to a blow-up doll, In Every Dream Home a Heartache.
After Eno left, Ferry gradually smoothed out the edges over the next decade, with their smouldering 1982 swansong Avalon one of the most ridiculously ornate albums in rock history.
Ferry has stayed more or less on this Avalon route, and his latest album Avonmore sounds like he hasn’t listened to a single thing in the last 30 years apart from Bryan Ferry records. And that is totally a good thing.
OPEN EAR FESTIVAL, Sherkin Island, Cork, today-Sunday, €75
It’s good to see that even as the first big commercial summer festival kicks off, there’s two smaller electronic music festivals at opposite ends of the country — Open Ear in Cork and AVA in Belfast.
Open Ear wins all the prizes for festival location this year — Sherkin Island off Cork — and it’s also a showcase for the best experimental electronic music Ireland has to offer.
Running over three days, it takes place outside the North Shore guesthouse and the Jolly Roger pub, with eyeball-pleasing cliffside views of the Atlantic. With only one stage and very limited capacity, expect plenty of collaboration, impromptu b2b sets and a classic ‘mates for life buzz you only get at a tiny festival.
Familiar names include Sunken Foal (above), Bjork collaborator Spaces, Donal Dineen, Kenny Hanlon and a load of other sound heads.
AVA FESTIVAL, T13, Belfast, tomorrow, tickets from £22
While Open Ear is providing back to nature goodness to go with your bleeps, AVA in Belfast is going down the classic techno route 1 — banging tunes in a big industrial space.
Now in its second year, the Audio Visual Arts festival and Conference at the vast T13 in the Titanic Quarter mixes workshops, talks, interviews and of course sets from established artists like Rodhad, Bicep, Sunil Sharpe, Mano Le Tough, Phil Kieran, and Gerd Janson, alongside emerging DJs and live acts.
The vast majority of acts are Irish, with an obvious nod to the North, but stick your name down for the free talk with Detroit electro pioneer Juan Atkins, as well as other talks including Women in Electronic Music and networking sessions that surely won’t be as dry as that sounds.
MUDHONEY, Black Box, Belfast, Tuesday, SOLD OUT, & Whelan’s, Dublin, Wednesday, SOLD OUT
Mudhoney’s latest album Vanishing point begins with a magic trick drum-roll, but thankfully there’s no big surprise — Mudhoney haven’t changed a bit in the last 30 years. For some bands that’s a bad thing, but for some familiarity is a big comfort blanket.
Mudhoney were always the most ‘grunge’ of the Seattle bands. There’s even a claim to be made that they were the only band that deserved the title.
From their debut single Touch Me I’m Sick, to their pisstake Everybody Loves Us — about the mainstream ransacking of Seattle — Mark Arm and co have been the ultimate ironic slacker skuzzy guitar band.
After a few major label records in the early 90s, they’ve been back for 20 years on label Sub Pop — the most iconic alternative label of them all.
They’re the ultimate Primavera Sound band, and they’re warming up at the Barcelona festival this weekend.
CANDI STATON, Sugar Club, Dublin, Wednesday, €27.50
Thankfully we’ve put a few years behind us and we don’t have to hear Florence Welch screeching You Got the Love anymore, unless you’re at a particularly bad Thursday night disco.
Before Florence turned the song into a warbling mess you’d hear on Sky Sports, it was Candi Staton’s calling card, one of the classic soul and house crossovers, with added dancefloor heft provided by The Source’s remix.
Luckily no one’s ruined her other belter Young Hearts Run Free, and she’s on tour to celebrate the song’s 40th anniversary. A tour for the 40th birthday of a song may sound like a stretch, till you remember Kula Shaker just did a 20th anniversary thing.
This’ll be a night of untouchable soul, gritty R&B and gospel — if you were at her early afternoon buzz at the Picnic a few years ago you’ll know what I’m on about.
NEIL YOUNG, SSE Arena, Belfast, Tuesday, £65-70, & 3Arena, Dublin, Wednesday, €65.45-96
The last time Neil Young played Dublin he knocked a few noses out of joint when he didn’t play crowd-pleasers for the one-gig-a-year crowd.
But they should’ve read the poster outside: Neil Young and Crazy Horse is a very different proposition to Neil Young with a strap-on harmonica crooning Heart of Gold. I could’ve swore I heard booing from the RDS stands when the band were on their 15th minute of feedback during Walk Like a Giant.
In fairness, the Crazy Horse heaviness didn’t quite work in a stadium, and Neil is no Bruce in the crowd work stakes.
This time around though, he’s indoors, and it’s not a full-on Crazy Horse gig. The consensus is that his new band Promise of the Real have invigorated him and he’s in his best form for years.
He’s been playing wildly different setlists on this tour, from half-hour jams of Down By the River to solo organ versions of After the Gold Rush and The Needle and the Damage Done, as well as his rock-out numbers. It sounds like you might just get that best-of set you’ve been waiting years for.