Standing in a 300 person queue on Essex Street waiting to see The Rubberbandits, I found myself wondering how they have become so popular. Of course, like the rest of the nation, I enjoyed the well-produced ‘Horse Outside’ but I have always found it difficult to appreciate their sketches on RTE and have not heard very much of their other material. It’s safe to say I was not filled with excitement; did the Limerick duo surprise me?
To start, we were treated to an all-too-long sound-check from Pop Céilí, the support act for the night. Complete with three vocalists, drums, bass, guitar, accordion and fiddle; the band played a selection of classic and contemporary pop hits with an Irish twist. Despite some frustrating sound imbalances, the set was quite enjoyable. Throwback hits such as 2unlimited’s ‘No limit’, Mark Morrison’s ‘Return of the Mack’ made me feel particularly old but recent hits which included a mash-up of Azealia Banks’ ‘212’ and Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ let me feel comfortably current. The set was punchy & enjoyable overall and made for a good start to the proceedings.
After a brief stage set-up, DJ Willie O’ DJ introduced us to Blindboy Boat Club and Mr. Chrome. The lads took to the stage with great energy and got right into the set. Although I was not familiar with most of the songs, it was very easy to enjoy the set. A whiteboard above the stage carried visual cues that ran in sync with the music and this visual element helped the audience keep up with the frantically paced raps. In between songs, the two lads exchanged banter with each other and explained the origins of the songs they were performing. These segments made for some hilarious one-liners and even let slip that the two Limerick natives are deceptively intelligent and articulate.
The set was rife with strong production quality. Despite the modest set-up, the show was well choreographed and tightly performed. Satirist elements made for some of the more memorable moments of the set; ‘Up the Ra’ saw a small group of balaclava wearing percussionists come on stage to accompany the lads and some skits involving Willie O’DJ were hilarious.
While there was no traditional stand-up moments in the set, The Rubberbandits delivered a good comedy show. The beats were excellent and despite the exaggerated Limerick accents, the guys can rap seriously well. Fans of their music would certainly enjoy the show and even casual observers may not be able to resist the allure of well-performed, witty Limerick rap.
Taking a near front-row seat in the delightful Smock Alley Theatre, I was quite excited to see Abie Philbin Bowman (APB). His new show: ‘The Revolution will be Televised, Retweeted & Available on 4oD’ takes a look at the socio-political climate in the world and takes a look at the idea of a revolution and why it hasn’t happened yet. As someone who is enthralled by international politics, this all sounds very promising. Did Abie deliver in his set?
Making his way to the stage sporting a classy, red dinner jacket and balaclava; Abie made an effort to engage with the audience from the start. After a few initial quips about his clothing, he informed the audience of the format of his show. He encouraged open audience participation and used the audience contributions to strong comedic effect.
He gave us some background on himself and explained how someone with such developed political and social opinion turned to a comedy career. While the reluctant audience may not have warmed to some of the jokes early in the set, Abie maintained a composed confidence throughout and managed to engage the audience further as the set rolled on. Some hilarious musings on Irish social issues such as the Celtic tiger years and the legacy of Fianna Fail were particular highlights of his set.
He also displayed a great knowledge of international politics and used this to great effect; jokes about German lending practices, Mitt Romney’s aggressive business ventures and the Royal Family gave some very funny insight and opinion into these issues. One particular segment which speculated about successful revolution strategy in the Middle East was very memorable.
While not all jokes delivered the strong comedic punches that they should have, every joke in the set was thoughtful, funny and deceptively insightful. APB is a startlingly bright lad and it’s an unusual thing to see someone apply such clever comedic elements to these sorts of developed political opinions. Whether it was jokes about Irish history, international relations or crippled economies; it is an unusual pleasure to see some clever and funny comedy that actually has something to say. Although there were some occasional missteps in the earlier part of the set; APB delivered a strong, assured performance that managed to deliver plenty of laughs and some interesting social commentary to boot!
Walking into the gorgeous Meeting House Square, the layout of seating and ambience of the crowd made me feel right at home. Observing a stage complete with a big rig, ropes and hanging trapeze, I certainly knew that this was going to be different to the normal gigs I cover but I still had no idea what to expect from Briefs, did their act surprise me?
Opening with a dazzling dance routine, the 6 fabulous-looking performers made clear what Briefs’ show was all about – Glam, Fun and Spectacle. Pulling off group poses that would put even the most hardened athletes to the test; the 6 guys performed a strip-tease to the audience that left my jaw on the floor. Complete with make-up, tiny underwear and each with their own distinctive style, they effortlessly drew the audience into their show and got everything moving well. We were introduced to our host ‘Shivannah’, who explained the format for the show. Each of the guys would take to the stage and do their own performance individually and Shivannah would take care of all the costume changes and MC work.
The performances ranged from acrobatic work to juggling acts, from gymnastic dancing to burlesque and everything in between. A particularly memorable act was a strongman who pulled off such feats as ripping a phonebook in half and rolling up a frying pan. In between the fantastic acts, Shivannah would engage with the audience and give a heads up on what to expect, these segments were hilarious and effortlessly charming throughout. Audience participation played a big part in the performance, with one lucky girl even getting a lap-dance from one of the boys.
As an act, Briefs are difficult to describe. I heard many folks at the gig describe them as a cross between cirque du soleil and a burlesque show but that doesn’t quite sell them well enough. Many performers can do one thing well but it’s such a rare thing to encounter an act such as Briefs that have so many wonderful things to put on show that it’s simply joyous to behold. Glamorous, entertaining and completely spectacular, Briefs may not be pure comedy but they are most definitely pure entertainment, and who doesn’t want a bit of that?!
Taking my seat in the New Theatre, I had a read through the extensively produced (pictured above) programme for the night. ‘Adventures of a Music Nerd: 1 Guy, 2 World Cups’ is a one-man show by Ronan Leonard and is pitched as ‘a loving ramble through the many world cup songs that came out for Italia ’90 and USA ’94. As a fan of International football, did the show manage to impress me?
Before taking to the stage, we received a quick safety announcement from Jack Charlton. The very convincing impersonation gave a great idea of what to expect from the show. Immediately likable and sporting a white lab coat, Leonard explained to us the format for his show. He wanted to guide us through his childhood world cup experiences using the songs that accompanied the particular World Cup tournaments. The set was an appreciation and not a mockery of the songs and he was simply trying to take us back to a purer time when we really had confidence in our international squad.
Ipod in hand, Leonard played us our first song, a hilarious dissection of ‘Give it a lash Jack’ by Liam Harrison, Leonard perfectly captured the optimism of Irish football fans to great comedic effect. Pausing at certain intervals throughout songs, Leonard gave us some of his insights into what he felt the writers and producers were trying to do and gave us a chance to absorb the goofy lyrics. Throughout the rest of the set we were treated to some great moments in examining more World Cup music. A hilarious analysis of ‘The Game’ by The Memories, found Leonard questioning the omission (and inclusion) of certain players throughout the song and found a surprising reveal for a possible future Irish team manager.
Further observations on the delightful ‘Bless Them All’ by Pat Good, ‘Put Them under Pressure’ by The World Cup Squad and ‘Ooh Aah Paul McGrath’ by Watch your House were particular highlights of the set. Throughout the set, it was very easy to engage with Leonard. What could very easily have been an acerbic and dry piss-take of the songs was a far more light-hearted, charming and genuinely funny look at the songs and how they related to Leonards world cup experiences.
Memorable, funny and with lots of heart, ‘Adventures of a Music Nerd: 1 Guy, 2 Cups’ will certainly be most appreciated by Football fans but even for those who hold no interest in the sport, it’s always a delight to watch a tasteful and funny observation on Irish culture.
The show is running from Sept 12-15th at 20:00 daily, with an extra matinee show on Sat 15th at 15:30.
It’s hard not to love Judd Apatow. With his feature directorial debut; ’The 40 Year Old Virgin’, he set a new trend of character-focused, witty storytelling and with his second feature; ‘Knocked Up’, he cemented himself as one of the most prolific and original comedy filmmakers in Hollywood. Add to his CV a tonne of producer credits such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad & Pineapple Express; and things are looking pretty good!
Unfortunately, Apatow’s most recent feature; ‘Funny People’ was not quite the gem we had hoped for and was actually quite bad.
But things are looking brighter and Apatow has his latest writer/director effort, ‘This is 40’ coming February 2013 and I think the trailer is looking great.
What does everyone think?