Video Interview with Texas Frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri

I was thrilled to interview Sharleen Spiteri of Texas for Irish music and culture magazine Hot Press this week – a big day for me as I loved her as a teenager – and they caught it on video.

The lovely Ms Spiteri was in Dublin for the launch of this year’s Arthur’s Day celebrations, which feature Texas as a headline act.

This is what Sharleen Spiteri of Texas had to say to Monica Heck for Hot Press.

The interesting bit about this year’s line-up is that a) they’ve ditched the ticketing system and b) any artist could appear in any pub in Ireland, as people across the country vote for their local pub to be the host of one of the big names on the bill including Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding, Amy Macdonald, Fatboy Slim and Mika.

The winning names will be a secret until the night so nobody knows who’s about to walk through the door. And all the events are free. Voting is online until September 16.

Hot Press also interviewed Amy Macdonald at the launch.

 

This is my personal link to Texas, that song was so big when I was a teen it always brings me back:

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Commitment and dedication: how did the Irish buy concert tickets before the internet?

Radiohead

Radiohead

In the era of broadband and smartphones, it’s never been easier to access concert tickets from the comfort of a sitting room. The challenges are different and involve multiple browsers, multiple connections, interminable clicking and a bit of luck.

But has it taken the fun out of the whole experience of having to queue and ‘earn’ the right to a ticket and of proving unwavering dedication to a band by camping out?

Michelle Aherne from Dublin remembers how she joined the queues in front of HMV on Henry street in 2001 after a night on the town in the hope of getting tickets for the U2 concert in August that year.

“It was 3am when we started queueing behind people who had been there all night in sleeping bags and everything,” she said. “We weren’t prepared at all we just decided to end the night there in the hope of getting tickets. We waited all night, we were about half way down Henry Street in a queue that stretched right back to the GPO arcade.”

She remembers the utter disappointment of many people who were left without tickets when the sale opened in the morning.

“My brother was at home on the phone as well, we were physically in Henry street yet we never managed to get a ticket. There were 80,000 tickets and yet I don’t know anyone who got one for that first concert, where on earth did they all go?”

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Handel’s Messiah at St Patrick’s Cathedral

Last November I attended both performances of Handel’s Messiah by the Culwick Choral Society at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The Messiah holds a special place in my heart as it was always synonymous with Christmas in my family.

This year’s performances benefited single-parent support association OneFamily. Here is what happened on the night:

Rocking Donegal

Last week, was on holidays in the tiny, pretty village of Kincasslagh in north County Donegal,  which happens to be hosting the Donegal Shore Festival after 4 years of absence from the festival scene. That in itself is quite a major attraction, but there is another major draw: Kincasslagh also happens to be home to one of the worldwide powerhouses of soft rock.  Step forward, Daniel O’Donnell.
There I am in Kincasslagh which sits neatly in a bend in the road at the bottom of a hill and is made up of a pub, a shop and a few houses. It all holds neatlly in the palm of one’s hand. And that palm was overflowing last week, as regular arrivals spilled from coaches playfully named “Daniel’s Fun Bus On Tour”.

On the opening day of the festival, as we weave our way through the crowds of people milling around the tiny epicentre of the beautiful Kincasslagh, we realise that apart from two infants in strollers we are among the youngest people there. Taking my place alongside balding heads and neat curls and waiting for the start of the show, I expect to be in for a polite sing-song, with jovial neighbours gently swaying from side to side, nicely clapping to the tunes in a sedate manner.

And that, my friends, is where I discover that the madness of your first teenage gig, the craziness of your Single-Income-No-Kids twenties festivals and the rowdiness of your rock chick reminiscence early thirties doesn’t suddenly slide into a more mature, peaceful communion of souls around a much loved Irish heart-throb. Wee Daniel may be on stage singing “about loving someone so true” and “houses becoming homes when the kettle is boiling”, but the atmosphere in the pit is decidedly more rock n’ roll.

On one side, a giggling grapple of ladies with near-empty glasses of Bailey’s and pints of cider push their way towards the stage. On the other, the police are desperately trying to keep people off the road. Behind us, a couple carrying a fierce looking umbrella are playing focused gig-crowd tactics, standing on my feet and shoving me discreetly at every possible opportunity. And the cherry on the cake:  feeling a sharp pain in my shin, I spin around to see what caused it. There stands a tiny little wizened old lady with an evil grin on her face and her walking stick clutched in her fist. I end up apologising to her for connecting with her stick, because let’s face it: I may be the victim, but she’s older than the law itself… check mate, she wins!

And all that futuristic jazz…

The key to life, they say, is to keep trying new things and to broaden your horizons. Well last night, I did. And what an experience that turned out to be. Packing a two-in-one punch for self-development, I did two things i’d never done before on a Tuesday night:

1) Attend a jazz concert (which turned out to be a post-modern futuristic “lets see how far we can push the audience” type of thing)

2) Leave the venue as fast as humanly possible the very minute the break was announced, with just one question: Why? Oh dear God (or insert appropriate higher power who may be of some help in situations like these), why?

Let me rewind and paint a picture for you, so you can truly comprehend the impact of such a performance on an unsuspecting audience. An audience who ended up witnessing the biggest case of “Emperor’s new clothes” ever seen on a stage.

It all starts so well. We are seated in a very intimate and cosy setting, surrounded by the glow of low lights and muffled respect and anticipation as meters away, the group commune in music and let the rythm take over their minds and souls. We get exciting glimpses of how powerful the singer’s voice is and how strong the cellist, pianist and drummer are. And then, it all goes horribly wrong when the hot new up-and-coming star of the jazz world starts singing the dictionary… I repeat, she opens the dictionary, or some form of English language vocabulary book, and proceeds to sing choice selections from its pages… Conceptually it sounds clever. Realistically it’s rubbish… How many times does one need to hear the words “knuckles” and “eyes” repeated in exaggerated tones before it becomes grating. And self-indulgently silly. That’s when my suspicion kicks in… but at least, she is singing. Just about.

The next two songs however push the boundaries of human sentence construction even further, to the delight of the jazz aficionados in the room I’m sure and to the utter bemusement of yours truly. Actually scrap that, there are no sentences to deconstruct… at this point, the singer starts groaning and moaning, and having silent epileptic fits which eventually result in a dying squeak. A controlled squeak perfectly positioned on one of her three octaves, I’m sure, but does one truly need to put themselves through that much semblance of physical pain to emit a sound that every newborn is capable of formulating in its first hour on the planet?

That’s when my hilarity kicks in… When she starts growling and grunting and emiting sounds of a sexual nature, I just can’t take it anymore. I start heaving silently and shaking uncontrollably under the influence of suppressed mirth, I start letting out little squeaks myself which I have to disguise as coughs lest the adoring audience notice I am an outsider in their midst and burn me at the stake for taking the limelight from the official squeaker in the room.

Sneaking sideways glances at my partner in crime, who I had unwittingly dragged into this horrific ordeal with me, I notice he is stoic and am now terrified I am ruining his enjoyment of the joys of the deconstructed sentence by my unrelenting shoulder heaving… It turns out that he is firmly sitting in the happy place inside his head, blissfully tuning out the horrors that are taking place around him.
But for me there is no such relief. I try to do the same and very nearly succeed during the musical interludes – but every time I cross the threshold to my inner sanctum, the singer starts keening or yelping or deep breathing or even – i kid you not – emit sounds that can only be described as burping, and I am brought right back to the centre of my inner pain with a thud…

Nothing worked – I tried thinking of work deadlines, of unpleasant people, even the upcoming budget announcement by the Irish government and what it would be doing to my disposable income! But at the height of this disaster, even childbirth felt like something i would gladly undertake as a release. Oh to be anywhere else but here.

Thankfully, after a shuddering end to another song, I make a break for it and run out the front door, followed by my partner in crime, and into the bushes outside for a long awaited and prolonged fit of howling laughter. Complete with tears rolling down my cheeks. Which keeps on going as I type this. Best laugh i’ve had in years!

There was no going back. Ever! Give me (shudder)Mickey Bubbles any day over this! I’m left with just one question though: Where is my happy place when i need it?