The New Arborist record is tremendous. It’s there, close at your ear like Bill Callaghan with peculiar stories. Wedding nights and hanging days. Echoes of the Seamus Heaney lines in ‘Traditions’ about putting down language and growing dissent. There is plainsong, lap steel and imperial swoon. Mark McCambridge with the words while Ben McAuley assumes cavernous sonics.
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‘Stay Young’ is the first new release by The Outcasts since 1985, a rush of sentiment and suss. The Cowan brothers are senior punk rockers, happily returned to the stage, enjoying the vintage status. ‘Stay Young’ could be a generational call, a resolve to not go quietly. Also, it’s a personal declaration. Greg sang it as his wife was recovering from cancer treatment.
When he was a boy, Lyndon Stephens sat in the back of the family Ford Cortina, loving the tunes on the 8-Track cartridge player. On the summer drives from Glengormley to Portrush, he listened to Glen Campbell and The Carpenters. Also, he was taken by the Paul Simon song about a boxer and a destitute kid, lost and defeated on Seventh Avenue.
He’s preparing for the Goodbye Vibrations Tour in 2020 and a last spin of the decks. “I’d rather go out with a bit of a bang than just fade,” Terri Hooley reckons. “Twenty years ago, somebody phoned me up and said to me, I believe you’re the oldest DJ in Belfast. I said, bloody sure I’m not – have you ever heard of George Carroll? So this guy from the Polytech wanted to test my hearing. He discovered that my right ear had been damaged. But I said, nah, that wasn’t DJing. That was Jimi Hendrix.”
Abomination at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast was astounding. Actual words from local politicians set as an uptight libretto. Homophobic lines of the cheapest order transposed into high art. Central figures from our recent history talking of supposed gay cures and justifying their comments as “scriptural”.
#1. The Supremes – Stoned Love
‘Stoned Love’ was the final US hit for The Supremes. Diana Ross had left by this time, but Jean Terrell was entirely capable. Actually, her voice has a richer timbre than her predecessor, and with the help of Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson, the song builds into this fierce expression of hope and deliverance. Continue Reading…
You’ll know ‘The Wild Rover’ as a party tune – a thigh-slapping, porter-chugging admission of a bold boy. But that’s not how Lankum see it. They strip the song away from all of the shamrockery, remove a few centuries of sanitation and behold – The Rover is desolate, cussed. The guy is a lurching archetype. He arrives into the company like the ancient mariner, expecting to be shunned. But still he persists with the itinerant gig, the habitual shame, the forlorn hope of a cottage and a coat.
Rave on, Paul Muldoon. Rave on across the pages of Binge – new poems, freshly unboxed in the Sunflower, upper barroom in Belfast. Whip-smart Muldoon, setting the verse akimbo, metaphors like party poppers, cascades, riff and refrain. Muldoon as the outlaw palindrome – Noodlum – word-rustler and renegade readiback.
There’s a first aid tent in the campsite at Moneynick, County Antrim. Here the damage is assessed. Blisters are lanced and drained and strapped up with zinc oxide tape. It’s the evening of the first day of Lyra’s Walk and Compeed plasters are getting rare. Also, toenails are starting to pop with the pressure. More than 70 people have taken part so far and those who covered upwards of 25 miles are taking off their wet boots and having a good wince.
There was a pause in the funeral for Lyra McKee and then two singers stepped up: Morgan McIntyre from Belfast and Gemma Doherty from Derry. They were known as Saint Sister, two exceptional voices. At Saint Anne’s Cathedral, their work was to perform a song for Lyra called ‘Dreams’.