Irish Tours

Walking On Cars revved up for Australian debut

“It’s been on the to do list for a long time but we never got the chance to do it,” lead singer Patrick Sheehy says, ahead of Walking on Cars’ first Australian tour.

“It’s going to be amazing. We’ve never been out there before. We all have friends out there that we haven’t seen in years. It’s going to be a really cool trip. It’s a big deal for us.”

Dingle band Walking on Cars burst onto the scene in 2012 when debut single Catch Me if You Can went to number one in the Irish iTunes chart.

They followed this with their debut album Everything This Way topping the Irish charts in 2016. However, their success hasn’t been limited to home shores as singles like Speeding Cars charted in numerous countries, building fanbases all around Europe and in Australia and New Zealand.

Of course, Ireland was in the grip of recession when they formed as a group. If Sheehy and schoolfriends Sorcha Durham (keyboard), Dan Devane (guitar), Paul Flannery (bass) and Evan Hadnett had not formed a band that soon started making waves all over the world, it is likely that some if not all of them could have ended up here themselves.

“It was either get out of Ireland or start a band,” Sheehy said. “Those were the two options we were looking at and we chose to stay and play music and most of our brothers and sisters and friends chose to go to Australia.

“In the meantime some of them have been and come home. My brother is still out here, he’s in Melbourne. He was in Adelaide a long time so he’s been there nearly ten years now.

“I’m going out to bring him home,” Sheehy jokes.

“When we were writing the first album, it was a case of everybody we knew and loved leaving for the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. It was a tough time for the country.”

The band released their follow-up album Colours earlier this year when it was positively received and reached number two in the Irish album charts.

They say the second album can be difficult for any band but it might have been particularly the case for Walking on Cars as they were shocked when guitarist Dan Devane left the band suddenly and in the middle of recording.

“It was a difficult time for everybody. It definitely came as a shock but once we dealt with it and moved on a little bit, we got the second album right and now we’re a four piece and everybody’s really happy. We can’t wait for the next chapter,” Sheehy says.

Getting it right took time with the band scrapping a lot of material that they were not happy with and starting again before they were happy to release Colours.

“We spent the second half of 2017 starting the process and maybe nine months later we realised what we had wasn’t big enough, wasn’t strong enough. I think we got caught up a little too much in the production side of things and it lacked a bit of heart.

“We got so caught up in what it sounded, we forgot what it made people feel so it was just a case of getting honest and getting creative and going back to basics. When we did that, it was a very simple process.”

Sheehy did get personal with Coldest Water, Colours’ second single, which is about his own struggle with alcohol.

“I’m sober nearly six and a half years now. I was in my early 20s and I was below in Cork. I was in UCC and I was an absolute disaster. I didn’t see the inside of a lecture room. It was full on. I was just writing from that place of hopelessness and that place of depression,” he says.

“Was this going to be me for the rest of my life just being a bit of a bum around the place or was I actually going to do something with myself? Coldest Water kind of captured that little moment in time in my life.”

“I’m very lucky.”

One of the AFL Irish stars hails from Dingle too. Do the band happen to know Mark O’Connor of Geelong Cats?

“Dingle’s a very small town, everyone knows everyone,” Sheehy says. “Yeah, Mark O’Connor is a big deal in Dingle and he’s a really nice dude and he’s absolutely bossing it over there. He’s a bit of a local legend.”

Walking On Cars kick off their Australian tour on November 29 in Sydney.

Dylan Moran returns to Australia: 'It might involve shouting'

Dylan Moran, one of Ireland’s best loved comedians is returning to Australia this month with his new show, Dr Cosmos.

Moran, well-known as the creator and star of Black Books and as a hugely successful stand-up comic, has been attracting audiences since the 1990’s when he won the Edinburgh Festival’s So You Think You’re Funny award.

In 1996, at the age of 24, he became the youngest comedian to win the coveted Perrier Comedy. The Meath stand up was voted 14th in Channel 4’s list of the greatest comics of all time in 2010.

Moran says he is looking forward to returning to Australia, a country with which he says he has a ‘fantastic relationship’.

Dylan Moran commands a huge following in Australia. Picture: Adam Hollingworth

Dylan Moran commands a huge following in Australia. Picture: Adam Hollingworth

“I always enjoy the shows when I’m there. I’m looking forward to getting to Oz, for sure,” he told the Irish Echo.

“I first went when I was 22 or 23. I was in Melbourne for six weeks and had a great time. I vividly remember the taste of coffee and wine and the evenings in Melbourne.

“I was madly in love and followed my girlfriend all the time. It was wonderful, it was a great place to be young and hang out and work. It was very memorable.

“Me and my family have visited something crazy like five times. We have a fantastic relationship with Australia. It’s been part of our lives in an unexpected way.”

Moran’s shows always feature his unique stream-of-consciousness take on the world at large and his own world. He enjoys a massive following in Australia. His most-recent tour four years ago was the second-largest ever behind Billy Connolly.

In Dr Cosmos, topics from religion to cat personalities and politics to shampoo adverts get the Moran treatment although he is reluctant to go into too much detail.

“It’s more of a complicated Irish stew, there’s a lot of things in it. It came together over time. I’m talking about everything, literally everything but in what I hope is a relatable, accessible, funny way.

“That’s what I do so I’m trying to make time go by pleasantly. I mean sometimes it might involve a bit of shouting but nobody dies.

“Family life and the news and what your life feels like, what I think life feels like. What I think it is that we’re in, trying to describe what we’re in together, that’s kind of what I do I think.”

Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Brexit are fertile fodder for humour and, Moran observes, these are indeeed “exotic times”.

“I think everybody knows we live in particularly exotic times, everything is feeling far too fruity so everybody craves stability and sanity.

“The people we’ve got at the moment, the universe has lined them up so they’re all arseholes at the same time which is unusual and then people are losing their minds because it’s frightening.

“We need to get rid of these people, we need to get some other sane human beings because there’s just far too much rage floating around.”

Moran, who for many years took the stage with a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of red nearby, has stopped drinking and smoking.

Has this affected his writing?

“I don’t really think it has. If anything, I’ve probably got a bit more energy than before,” he says.

“I’m just a bit more pleasant. It suited me (to stop drinking). Different things work for different people. That works for me.”

The now 47-year-old has acted in comedy films such as Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy, Run but he has also taken on more serious roles such as his parts in Calvary and Good Vibrations.

Is he keen to do more of the straight acting?

I’m just a bit more pleasant. It suited me (to stop drinking). Different things work for different people. That works for me.

“Yeah. If the phone rings, I am available, midweek especially. I’m writing something for BBC that we’re going to make next year so there’s stuff going on.

“I’ve been on the road for a couple of years with this show. I’m going to shoot it pretty soon in Vicar Street before I forget all of it you know. I’m doing a lot, I’m kind of busy.”

All he will say about his BBC project is that it is a comedy series. Some fans may want to see his channel 4 hit Black Books return but Dylan is categoric in his response when he sees the question coming: “The answer is no. I know what you’re going to ask. the answer’s no.”

Dylan Moran begins his Australia tour in Wollongong on October 23. Check our what’s on for other dates.

Only one U2 gig sold-out so no need for scalpers

U2 fans and ticket scalpers alike have been quick to get their hands on passes for the band’s Australian tour, set to kick off in November.

The first of two performances at the Sydney Cricket Ground has completely sold out, but with tickets selling for more than $3,000 on much-criticised resale site Viagogo, official vendors are reminding concert-goers that legitimate seats are still available for remaining shows around the country.

Live Nation, Ticketek and Ticketmaster’s U2 prices range from just $60 for general admission to almost $500 for a VIP experience and the chance to win a backstage tour.

Artists and promoters have pushed for regulation of ticket reselling for years, with duped customers left unable to enter concert venues after spending hundreds or thousands on invalid tickets.

For fans who do make it through the gates, the Joshua Tree Tour will celebrate the Irish rock band’s album of the same name and mark the four-piece’s first return to Australia since 2010.

U2 will finally bring their renewed The Joshua Tree Tour to Australia from November 12.

U2 will finally bring their renewed The Joshua Tree Tour to Australia from November 12.

The 1987 release was U2’s most successful album, featuring hits including With or Without You and moving more than 25 million copies worldwide.

The band embarked on the tour in 2017 for the album’s 30 year anniversary, playing the complete tracklist for loyal supporters.

Announcing the Oceania leg of the world circuit, famously philanthropic lead-singer Bono said, “It’s only taken me 30 years to learn how to sing these songs and…I’ve finally caught up with the band,”

“Our audience has given The Joshua Tree a whole new life.”

The band has ensured all their devotees can feel involved even in expansive stadiums, with a set featuring two stages and the largest LED stage screen ever used during a concert tour.

Dublin native Bono is as well-known for his political statements as he is for his four-decade music career.

Dublin native Bono is as well-known for his political statements as he is for his four-decade music career.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, made up of four former Oasis members, will also travel down under as the group’s support act.

U2 will also perform in Melbourne on November 15, Adelaide on November 19, Sydney on November 22 and 23 and in Perth on November 27.

U2 will finish the 2019 leg of their 30th anniversary The Joshua Tree tour with a concert in Mumbai this December - the first time the band has ever played in India.








Meath singer Sibéal to perform at Sydney's Zone Out Festival

An up-and-coming Irish songstress has released her debut album ahead of a trip down under.

County Meath native Sibéal Ní Chasaide will perform repertoire from her self-titled work at Sydney’s Zone Out Festival at the end of September, joining an international line up with her fresh take on Irish folk.

Sibéal is an unexpected star in the 2019 music scene, introducing audiences worldwide to sean-nós, the traditional and emotive style of singing in Ireland's Gaeltacht.

Sibeal_Press_2.jpg

The 21-year-old has said of her unique sound, “I like…bringing the contemporary edge to sean-nós singing.

“That’s who I am essentially, I’m not just a one-dimensional person.”

She also performs songs in English with Blackbird and The Parting Glass nestled among the tunes sung as Gaeilge, ensuring the eponymous album’s universal appeal.

Sibéal rose to prominence as a school student when renowned composer Patrick Cassidy heard her sing and invited her to perform vocals for a centenary documentary, 1916: The Irish Rebellion.

Sibéal discusses her journey to success.

Her live performance of Mise Éire - the moving centrepiece of the score - with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra cemented her status as one to watch.

She has since recorded at the iconic Abbey Road Studios and shared her voice with audiences in the United States, Canada and the UK, accustomed to the touring life after spending her childhood travelling with her father and uncles’ Irish folk band.

Sibéal has been called a young woman of the new Ireland returning Irish music to the international arena.

The Zone Out Festival features international and Australian neo-classical artists, yoga sessions, panel discussions and film screenings.

The event takes place at Carriageworks on Saturday, September 28.

Dara Ó Briain renews love affair with Australia

One of Ireland’s best loved comics is back in Australia.

Dara Ó Briain is well known from British television shows such as Mock the Week and The Apprentice You’re Fired but he was familiar to Irish audiences long before that from shows like Don’t Feed the Gondolas and The Panel.

Fast-talking, charismatic, incredibly sharp and intelligent as well as very, very funny, Ó Briain brings his Voice of Reason tour to Australia this week.

The Bray native has long held a great affection for Australia and almost moved to Melbourne at one point, he reveals.

“I had a couple of big years in Australia when I was much younger as a comic. I came over for the Melbourne Festival, did the Adelaide Fringe and I genuinely thought I was going to be spending a lot of time in Australia.

Ó Briain with actor Kenneth Branagh at an Embassy of Ireland function in London. Picture: Jeff Spicer

Ó Briain with actor Kenneth Branagh at an Embassy of Ireland function in London. Picture: Jeff Spicer

“I even looked at buying a flat in Melbourne. I totally fell for the place and then I didn’t go back for 16 years because of work.

“I got screwed over by RTE at home basically: ‘No, no, no, don’t go to Australia because we’re definitely going to do a thing with ya’. And I lost out on the Melbourne Festival because RTE promised me to do something.

“Basically it got to a point in my life where it was difficult to justify to my new wife why I would spend three months partying in Australia so it became less of a priority and it became a distant thing until a few years ago when i went back again.

“It was like, ‘where have you been all my life?’ It was fantastic but it was very different to go from playing a small room at a comedy festival in Melbourne to doing two nights in the Opera House in Sydney which is what we did last time. That was like, ‘Okay, this is great, I haven’t had to do any work to get this but I’m in the Opera House, fantastic’. Australia’s golden, glorious for me. I love it to bits.”

It was in 2017 that the now 47-year-old was last here to do those two shows at Sydney Opera House as well as gigs in Melbourne and Perth.

O’Briain almost moved to Melbourne 16 years ago.

O’Briain almost moved to Melbourne 16 years ago.

He constantly met the young Irish in Australia at the time and empathised with them and the dreaded farm work requirement for those who want to extend their stay.

“There was a bit of irritation over their whole 88 days. The opening line I had was, ‘Hello Sydney, I’m going to Melbourne, then I’ve got to do 88 days working on a farm, then I’ve got a show in Perth’. That was the opening line that I had and that got a huge laugh from the Irish, all of whom were trying to avoid doing 88 days working on a farm.

“The audience was one third Irish, one third British and one third Australian so it made kind of an interesting tension to play with.

“You couldn’t just fall back on the idea of it being an Irish expat crowd, that kind of, ‘oh my God, remember the old days?’ Luckily I don’t have to do that so it keeps you fairly honest.

“The (Australian) audiences are not that different, they’re storytellers like the Irish.”

Ó Briain may be familiar from his television presenting, and has been announced as the host of a forthcoming revamped Blockbusters, but his own stand-up shows allow him more freedom.

“Mock the Week, the panel show is great fun to do because you’re amongst friends ... but in terms of delivering the best comedy I can do, that happens when I’ve got you for a while, when I’ve got you for the evening. When I’ve got you for two halves of the show, I know I can set something up at the start that pays off an hour and a half later.

“When you’re doing a panel show, it’s really in and then out of there and that’s great, great for getting gags out, gags rather than stories.

Also read: Orange Is The New Black actor to star in Martin McDonagh play

“On stage, you really come across as who you are, personality-wise and can play with that. I have their attention now and instead of going boom, boom, boom with the jokes, I’m going to set them up and the dominoes will fall later. Especially as I’ve been doing it for so long now, the shows work in a complicated way.”

His Voice of Reason show has been described as a reflection on some of mid-life’s mundanity with some topical issues like Brexit thrown in.

He’s reluctant to reveal much about his material, an exercise he likens to a band describing an album.

“Do you know what? I hope to never have to describe the show because it’s kind of like a band having to describe an album: ‘Well, there’s a couple of fast ones, a couple of slow ones, hope you’ll like it’. Comedy shows are a bit like that. Towards the end, it feels a lot more connected than it was earlier on but some of it will be off the cuff.

“It will be the 167th time I’ve done the show so to be frank, if it isn’t working by now, I don’t deserve to be up there.”

Dara Ó Briain plays Brisbane on September 11, Sydney on September 14 and Melbourne on September 16.

Walking On Cars lock in first Australian tour

Kerry band Walking On Cars, described by Hot Press as ”one of the top Irish bands to catch live” will tour Australia for the first time later this year.

The five-piece from Dingle shot to fame in 2012 with debut single Catch Me If You Can, and have been shaking up the scene ever since with their chart topping hits.

Just last month the indie-pop heroes played a sold-out 12,000 capacity show in Ireland.

ALSO READ: Sydney production of Once an on-stage hit

November and December will see the band perform their first ever headline shows in Australia and New Zealand. The dates follow a summer of European festival shows, a completely sold out UK tour and a clutch of huge arena and outdoor shows in their homeland, in support of the band’s new album, Colours.

The band have been clocking up millions of views on Youtube, including the first single from Colours, Monster.

After shows in Wellington and Auckland, Walking On Cars play the Factory Theatre in Sydney on Friday, November 29, Max Watt’s in Melbourne on Sunday, November 30 and Badlands in Perth on Monday, December 2.

Recorded between the band’s own home studio in Kerry, London’s legendary RAK studios, and Angelic Studios near Banbury , Colours is a second album described as “kaleidoscopically rich with sounds, emotions, synth-rock imagination and the brilliant song writing synonymous with the bands previous releases”.

Fronted by the charismatic Patrick Sheehy (singer/lyricist), Walking On Cars also features Sorcha Durham (pianist), Paul Flannery (bass guitarist) and Evan Hadnett (drummer).

Over 18 months’ touring the band has sold 135,000 gig tickets, reaching arena level at home and sold out tours across Europe, as well as playing the mains stages of some of the biggest festivals out there, including Isle of Wight, Rock Werchter, Rock Am Ring and Electric Picnic in 2017.

Their total global video views stand at an impressive 60 million, their cumulative global streams an eye-watering, ear-trembling 200 million.

U2 announce Joshua Tree tour of Australia

Bono and The Edge: ‘It’s going to feel like a homecoming’

Bono and The Edge: ‘It’s going to feel like a homecoming’

U2 return to Australia in November for the first time in nine years.

The Dublin quarter will bring their Joshua Tree show to Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds as support.

The show features all the songs from the seminal 1987 album The Joshua Tree, performed in the order they appeared on the original recording.

Bono said “It’s only taken me 30 years to learn how to sing these songs and it’s great to be able to say that I’ve finally caught up with the band.

“Our audience has given the Joshua Tree a whole new life on this tour. Doing these shows has been very special for us, a lot of emotion… From the despair of how relevant some of the dark songs still are, to the joy, pure fun of the staging… it’s quite a ride.

“And now we get to do it all over again. Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul… We’re coming for you”.

U2’s Joshua Tree tour has already been seen by almost three million fans.

U2’s Joshua Tree tour has already been seen by almost three million fans.

“We really, really wanted to bring The Joshua Tree to New Zealand, Australia and Asia” added The Edge. “We promised we would and finally, now we can say that we will see you in November... It’s going to feel like a homecoming and we are very excited”. 

It will be the first U2 tour of Australia since the hugely-successful 360° Tour in 2010. 

The Joshua Tree Tour 2019 kicks off in Auckland on November 8 before their first Australian show in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on November 12.

Marvel Stadium in Melbourne hosts the band on Friday, November 15 before an Adelaide Oval show on Tuesday, November 19.

The Sydney Cricket Ground is the next venue for the band on Friday November 22 before the Australian leg wraps up at Perth’s new Optus Stadium on Wednesday, November 27.

Tickets for the shows go on sale on Tuesday June 11. U2.com subscribers will have first opportunity to purchase tickets starting Tuesday June 4.

The Joshua Tree Tour is a celebration of the original album and tour of the same name undertaken by U2 in 1987 and features the complete album played in sequence along with a selection of highlights from U2’s extensive catalogue of songs.

The innovative staging includes a specially commissioned series of haunting and evocative films from Dutch photographer, film-maker  and longtime collaborator Anton Corbijn – whose iconic photography accompanied the original recording  - in brilliant 8k resolution on a 200 x 45 foot cinematic screen, the largest high-res LED screen ever used in a touring show.

The show opened to rave reviews in Vancouver, Canada in May 2017 - the first of 20 sold out stadium dates across North America. The sold out Eureopean run kicked off in London’s Twickenham Stadium on July 8 and saw the Dublin band return home to play to 78,000 fans in Croke Park, almost 30 years to the day after they played the legendary Dublin venue on the original Joshua Tree tour.

Having played to over 2.7 million fans in just 51 shows across North and South America, the UK and Europe, and Mexico in six months, The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 was the most successful tour of the year.

Dylan Moran returns for national tour

Dylan Moran returns in October for his first Aussie tour in four years.

Dylan Moran returns in October for his first Aussie tour in four years.

Dylan Moran returns to Australia for a national tour in October.

It’s the hugely popular Meathman’s first Aussie tour in four years.

Moran will once again offer his unique take on love, politics, misery and the everyday absurdities of life in his new show Dr Cosmos.

The Sydney show, at the Opera House, will be part of the Just For Laughs Sydney Comedy Festival.  Tickets go on sale Tuesday 14 May at 9am.

Moran, who like fellow comics Tommy Tiernan and Hector Ó hEochagáin was born in Navan, has been called the Oscar Wilde of comedy for his deadpan, witty and lyrical style.

He first came to prominence in 1996 at the Edinburgh Fringe, becoming the youngest ever winner of the Perrier Award.  He went on to co-write and star in Black Books which won two BAFTAs. 

Other notable screen roles include Notting HillCalvaryShaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run.

Moran, who now calls Edinburgh home, has toured the world many times, including versions of his show as far afield as Kazakhstan, Ukraine and across the US.  

His last tour, Off the Hook, took in 149 dates across the globe and was the second biggest comedy tour in Australian history after Billy Connolly.

For tour dates and venues, visit www.abpresents.com.au

Snow Patrol for August 'acoustic' tour

Snow Patrol return to Australia in August for an acoustic tour.

Snow Patrol return to Australia in August for an acoustic tour.

Snow Patrol return to Australia this coming August on the ‘Live and Acoustic’ tour which visits Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, and sees the band performing for the first time at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.

Fresh on the heels of their North American stadium tour with Ed Sheeran,  and appearances at Lollapalooza Chile and Brazil , the Australian shows see the Irish rockers performing as a three-piece featuring singer and guitarist Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid on guitar, piano and vocals and Nathan Connolly also on guitar and vocals.

According to promoters Live Nation, Snow Patrol will be performing songs live “as you’ve never heard them before” and all their best known hits will be included in the set-list.

Over a 25-year career, Snow Patrol has carved out a unique place for themselves.

Since their 1998 debut, Songs for Polarbears, Snow Patrol’s melancholy anthems of heartbreak and separation have mended hearts, and the band have emerged as musical prophets striking a chord in the minds and memories of listeners over six ground-breaking, confessional albums.

The band has racked up an impressive number of critical and commercial accolades, including more than 16 million global album sales, more than one billion global track streams, five UK Platinum Albums, as well as Grammy and Mercury Music Prize nominations. 

With an equally huge fan base here in Australia Snow Patrol have received eight platinum ARIA accreditations and continue to be one of Australia’s biggest selling International artists.

Tickets go on sale at noon on Monday, May 13. Fan pre-sale from 11am Thursday, May 9 until 11am Monday, May 13. My Live Nation members can secure tickets first during the exclusive pre-sale beginning 11am Friday, May 10 until 11am Monday, May 13.

Full tour details from Live Nation.

Final curtain call for Boyzone, Ireland's pop supergroup

Boyzone on stage in Belfast in January at the start of their Thanks You & Goodnight tour.

Boyzone on stage in Belfast in January at the start of their Thanks You & Goodnight tour.

Boyzone, Ireland’s first true pop supergroup, are ready to take their final curtain call.

More than two decades since they first got together, the band are about to tour Australia for one last time when they arrive with their Thank You & Goodnight tour this weekend.

The 'boys', now all in their 40s, have decided to let go of the vehicle that brought them huge success.

Boyzone burst onto the scene in 1994, scoring hits in the UK and Irish charts with songs like Love Me for a Reason, Key to My Life, Picture of You, Father and Son, Words and Baby Can I Hold You.

Shane Lynch reflects on the early days, describing their sudden fame as “a hell of a ride”.

"I was 17 years old and kind of catapulted around the world just not really knowing what lay ahead, just being on a crazy adventure,” he tells the Irish Echo from Dublin. “But I was lucky enough to experience some major things with the other boys. Some of it is very vivid and some of it is very poignant in my life and then some of it is a distant memory like it never even happened."

Put together by pop mogul Louis Walsh in 1993, the band was originally made up of Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham and Lynch. Although some of them had promising careers and sports scholarships, the five lads from Dublin gave these up to pursue a career in music. They quickly became the biggest pop group to have ever come out of Ireland.

"I think the magic times for Boyzone were, without a shadow of a doubt, the 90's that brought us our huge success. I think probably the best memories for me is when we got back together in '07, '08, those kind of times when we were fresh in our minds and it wasn't such a mad ride anymore.

Boyzone on stage (from left) Shane Lynch, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating and Keith Duffy.

Boyzone on stage (from left) Shane Lynch, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating and Keith Duffy.

“The way music worked had changed and you weren't really going from radio station to radio station anymore. It all became a lot easier in the noughties and I think those are kind of the best memories for me. The blur factor of the 90's, it's hard to pinpoint anything that was a highlight as such. I think the highlights really came in our older stages and just being able to enjoy being a band."

Lynch, who took part in last year's Celebrity Big Brother and also regularly competes in motor racing, says the current farewell tour has been a great excuse to hang out with his old mates.

“We really don't get to hang out anymore, it's only a blessing if our paths cross at any point. We don't get to call around, 'you wanna play football?' It's not like that. When you have children, it just all gets a bit distant. It's almost like a continuous stag weekend when you go on a tour, it's a celebration of the joyous moments. We're very blessed to be able to do it."

Over the years, the 42-year-old has also come to terms with previously undiagnosed dyslexia which, he reveals, made it very difficult for him to read tour schedules or autocues in the early days.

"It was the 80's when I went to school, dyslexia wasn't really a thing and it was just more that you couldn't read and write or you were a troubled kid or whatever.

"I was able to hide it for those (Boyzone) years and it was just as I became older, I found my real confidence to be able to say, 'Actually, you know what? I actually can't do what you guys do'.

“All the Boyzone boys didn't know for many, many years. As it turned out: Yeah, I'm massively dyslexic. I wish I took that journey on that path many, many years ago. A lot of people say the school system let me down and all that stuff, it really didn't. I let myself down. I'm the one who didn't say anything.

"It became a great thing in the end because it built my character into who I am today in a survival test of things. That said, life could have been very difficult and it can be very difficult for people out there who can't read and write and are scared to go back.

“They're horrible times and horrible memories, those kind of schooling times so to go to adult education or to find out you can get to read and write the older you get, it's a lengthy process but I would advise anyone out there who has any sort of problem like that, not to be afraid."

The other members of Boyzone have had differing levels of success since the original split in 2000.

Ronan Keating, 42, has enjoyed huge success as a solo artist and spends a lot of time in Australia with his second wife Storm, a Queenslander. He has also appeared on a number of Australian TV shows including All Together Now and X Factor.

Keith Duffy, 44, has been acting on screen and stage since breaking into a new career with a part in the long-running TV soap, Coronation Street.

Mikey Graham, 46, trained as an actor after Boyzone split in 2000 and has made a number of TV appearances including in TV3’s Celebrity Apprentice Ireland.

The group were hit by tragedy in 2009 when original member Stephen Gately died of natural causes. He was 33 years old. The band, the nation and the world were shocked by his untimely death. Lynch says Gately continues to inspire the remaining Boyzone members.

"It's coming up to ten years now that we've lost Stephen and ten years is a long time and without a doubt, time is a great healer. What we try to do in our show is to make it a celebation of Stephen also.

“He was an amazing part of Boyzone, amazing character and without a doubt very much missed amongst us as a group, let alone as a friend gang and a guy that I would have grown up with.

“The way to miss him, it's not necessarily a tear to the eye, it's more of a smile. There's a lot of emotion for sure that runs through the crowd and certainly has done on this tour. It gave different emotions to different people and I think that's what music does, that's exactly what music is all about. When we meet up and we talk about Steo, we celebrate Steo. It delivers different impacts for different people but for us guys, we're definitely there to celebrate it."

While Lynch savours those early days of Boyzone he ‘lost it’ on The Late Late Show last year when host Ryan Tubridy showed a clip of the band’s cringeworthy first appearance on the show 25 years ago.

“I’ve busted my bollocks to get here. See that clip? You can shove it up your fucking hole,” Lynch told Tubridy on the live show.

Lynch laughs when asked about the outburst.

"You know what it was? It's kind of plain and simple and I, as a grown man, perhaps should have expressed myself in a little bit more of a controlled way but I guess I had had enough at that point. We all kind of lash out at times.

"My frustration was they invited us onto the show to celebrate Boyzone and talk about the great 25 years and to give us a real boost.

“The first thing they do is try and take you down or take you back to a time that was not nice for you. What I mean by that is The Late Late Show as we all know is not Boyzone's best time in life ever, it's actually the worst so it's like being reminded of being the dumb kid in school, the fat kid in school, the ugly kid in school. That was a hard time in Boyzone's life so to be kind of kicked in the bollocks by your own TV show, the biggest TV show in Ireland and to regress you back to those times was, I thought, very unfair. I think it was a nasty thing to do, it was like bullying at its highest level. Laugh it off because it's a TV show? No, I just felt I was being bullied at that point and I guess I came out kicking and screaming or expressed myself the way I did. That's just how I felt at the time."

Boyzone kick off their farewell tour at HBF Stadium in Perth on March 30 before performing at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on April 2, Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on April 3, ICC Theatre in Sydney on April 5 and finally, The Star in the Gold Coast on April 6 and 7.

Dublin comedy trio set to overdose on craic

Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan are Foil, Arms and Hog.

Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan are Foil, Arms and Hog.

“Can’t wait, really excited about it.” Sean Finegan of Foil, Arms & Hog says he and his mates are chomping at the bit to bring their sketch comedy show Craic-ling to Australia.

“Dying to get out there just to see how the material goes down with a crowd that has been asking us to come for a long time. We’re very excited.”

The comedy trio have only performed in Australian once before, at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2017.

“We did the fringe there for a month. We were gigging four times a night. Nobody knew us and we lost a fortune but had a brilliant time. That’s the last time we were in Australia. We arrived in the middle of a 40-degree heatwave and it melted us but didn’t deter us from coming back.”

FInegan is one third of Foil, Arms & Hog alongside Sean Flanagan and Conor McKenna. The trio write, shoot and edit a new sketch every week to release on Facebook and YouTube.

It’s a formula that has given the trio a massive online following and, one suspects, a steady income. For example, their brilliant take on Brexit, with Britain and Europe portrayed as a divorcing couple has clocked up more than 450,000 views.

In the stage show Craic-ling the trio conducts a class on how to hold a baby, sings a Gregorian chant about life as a monk and re-enacts the assassination of a classically trained actor. Chortle.co.uk described the show as “an effervescent hour of fast-paced gags, fizzing with energy, invention and great lines”.

How would Finegan describe the show for the uninitiated?

“It’s sketch comedy. People think certain things when they hear sketch comedy. In Ireland, there’s no sketch comedy scene whatsoever so when we started out; we started doing stand-up sets. There was no opportunity for any lights or sound, it just had to be funny. It’s very quick, off the bat. We would go sketch to sketch and we started to interact with the audience. It’s kind of like a blend between stand-up and sketch comedy as most people think of it. There’s no overarching theme. Instead of a random series of jokes, we do a random series of sketches, whatever we think are funny.

“People think it’s going to be similar to the online videos but it’s nothing like that. The stuff on stage is way whackier, weirder, much more out there.”

Finegan says they have no idea how the gags will go down, Down Under.

“We have one sketch where three guys join a monastery, become monks and they become really bored really quickly.

“Buckfast is an alcoholic drink made by monks and they find that. I don’t know. How familiar are people in Australia with monasteries? Should we be worried?”

How do the trio decides which material is for their online fans (they have 900,000 followers on Facebook) and what will go on stage?

“The wordier stuff works really well for video. The stuff that works on stage tends to be the bigger world ideas, like crazy stuff you couldn’t film without a Hollywood budget but, with a blank space, the audience can imagine whatever they want.

“The weirder and wilder stuff really bring the crowd into it as well.

“It might take us a week to work on a video for the internet but it would take us two or three months just to write one sketch for stage, it’s just so much more difficult. The standard is so much higher for stage for what you watch on screen but it’s what we enjoy doing more even though it’s harder, the rewards are so much bigger.”

The trio first came together in 2008 while they were still students at University College Dublin. The name evolved from their respective nicknames. Sean Finegan was the comedy ‘foil’. Conor McKenna was ‘all arms and legs’ and Sean Flanagan ostensibly hogged the limelight.

Finegan says he hopes to see a big Irish turnout at the Aussie shows.

“We did a gig in London. It was a really big gig for us in the Hammersmith Apollo and a load of Irish living in London came out and it was almost like this reunion party. It turned into this mad Irish night out. It’s like you’re playing in the World Cup and you’ve got a great travelling support.”

The last time they were in Australia, an elderly Irishman at one of their Adelaide shows was so taken with them, he tried to give them money after the gig.

“He had been living in Australia his whole life and after the show he came up to us and put a pile of money into our hands and he says, ‘Thank you so much for reminding me of home; you’ve taken me back’. We were like, ‘What? This is ridiculous for a silly comedy show’.

“It’s comedy, there’s no messages involved with it but to create something emotional in someone was really nice.”

Foil Arms & Hog kick off their Australian tour in Melbourne on April 9 before performing three shows in Sydney from April 23. The first two Sydney shows are already sold out.

Talented tenor trio poised for national tour

The Celtic Tenors, from left Matthew Gilsenan, from Meath, Daryl Simpson, from Omagh and James Nelson, from Sligo.

The Celtic Tenors, from left Matthew Gilsenan, from Meath, Daryl Simpson, from Omagh and James Nelson, from Sligo.

A little more than a year after their first extensive tour of Australia The Celtic Tenors are headed back down under.

The Celtic Tenors are one of Ireland’s most popular classical crossover acts. They have been performing together for almost two decades and have sold more than a million albums worldwide.

Australia is relatively new territory for the trio, although they have toured here with Celtic Woman. They are well established in the US and Canada.

“We’re a little bit late to the party [in Australia],” Matthew Gilsenan tells The Irish Echo. “We’ve been together as a group for 20 years but last year was the first time we did anything meaningful in Australia. We love it.

“There’s so many Irish, half the country lives in Australia at the moment. We can’t wait to get back.

Gilsenan acknowledges that the genre is crowded but points to the longevity of their success as validation of their appeal.

“There’s lots and lots of tenor groups out there and we’ve been around longer than any of them but we’ve kept the head down and kept it small. We didn’t have the resources to go as far as Australia early on.

“The fact that we managed to survive this long and still be productive is great. We’ve just finished our ninth studio album.”

The Celtic Tenors combine classical with pop and perform Irish classics but, as Gilsenan explains, the combination is unique.

“It’s not quite what it says on the tin. We’re called the Celtic Tenors but about 10 years in we said, ‘We should have called ourselves something else’. We don’t do too much of the tenoring. Yes, we do Nessun Dorma and we do the big belter operatic things but only a bit. We’re very proud of our great Irish songwriters, from Declan O’Rourke to Phil Coulter, to Kodaline and the Script. A good song is a good song and that’s what we come to sing.”

On this tour they will perform The Irish Songbook that will include Song For Ireland, Danny Boy, You Raise Me Up and more favourites.

This is also very much the flavour of their forthcoming album: “It’s kind of the album we should have made the very first time out with songs like I’ll Tell Me Ma, Carrickfergus, The Parting Glass and The Rocky Road to Dublin. Many of these songs we’ve kind of avoided because everyone has done them and if we were going to be giving them a go at all, we would want to get fairly good at what we’re doing.

“I think 20 years in we’re beginning to feel almost like it’s a coming of age and have enough maturity to make musical calls.”

The Celtic Tenoes have performed for everyone from Bill Clinton to Bono.

The Celtic Tenoes have performed for everyone from Bill Clinton to Bono.

Gilsenan, from Meath, and James Nelson, from Sligo, have been members of The Celtic Tenors since the start. The third member, Daryl Simpson, from Omagh, replaced Niall Morris in 2006.

The Meathman believes the fact that they are not locked into one setlist keeps it interesting for them as performers and entertaining for their audiences.

“Because we haven’t written our own music so much, we tend to cycle through songs that we think are great songs. And the ones that are truly great songs are the ones that feel like we’re doing them for the first time every night and we still enjoy them,” he says.

“It’s a huge plus for us as performers. If you’re performing something that you’re sick of doing it’s going to come across. We never do anything we don’t like. That’s what surprises: the content of the show, the craic that we have. It’s a non-scripted show. We’re kind of ordinary fellas.

“We’re not overly classical, we’re not overly Irishy, it’s just a good night of quality music. We don’t take ourselves seriously at all.”

Playing to expat audiences is always rewarding, Gilsenan says, and the degrees of separation with home are always few in number.

“An old man came to one of our shows a few years back,” he recalls.

“He said, ‘I noticed your name was Gilsenan. Did you ever hear of a man called Matt Gilsenan from Meath, the football player? That’s why I came, I recognised your name’. My grandfather was Matt Gilsenan. He was the captain of the Leinster football team in 1939 and they won the Railway Cup. He said, ‘I played with your grandfather in 1942’. And I said, ‘My God, that’s amazing’. He said, ‘Well, I left in 1945 and I never came home’.

“He wrote a little note to my grandfather who was the absolute definition of a hard man. But he was really, really gobsmacked when he got this. It’s quite emotional the stories that you come across, it’s unreal.”

What does Gilsenan consider the best compliment the group has been paid in 20 years?

“I remember we sang for Bill Clinton at an event in Dublin Castle. It was marking the fact that the Good Friday Agreement seemed to have stuck, so we were singing for Bill Clinton; Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach at the time, so he was there. Bono and Bob Geldof were there; President [Mary] Robinson and all these people.

“Three days later, we get a phone call from Bono’s office to ask if we would sing at a private birthday party for him so he obviously thought our version of Danny Boy was good enough. He asked us to sing five or six songs as a birthday gift for [the late Secretary General of the United Nations] Kofi Annan’s wife. He was a lovely man and his wife was even nicer.”

Part of the fun of performing is to reconnect with audiences and, Gilsenan says the trio treat their fans as friends.

“Young pop groups have fans; we tend to treat them more like friends. We don’t separate ourselves too much. At the end of a show, we’re there signing CDs, shaking hands and saying hi and you end up knowing so many of them.”

The Celtic Tenors return to Australia in May and June for a national tour. For more information, go to www.celtic-tenors.com

Dublin singer eager for Aussie return

Gavin James has built a following from Belfast to Brazil.

Gavin James has built a following from Belfast to Brazil.

“Can’t wait,” Gavin James replies when he’s asked if he is looking forward to his Australian tour in March.

It will only be the second time he has played these shores.

“Should be great craic. It’s a really quick trip but I’d love to go over there next time and spend about a week and hang out a little bit. Still should be great craic though.”

It was in 2016 that the Dubliner played his first Australian shows.

“It was great. The Australian crowds are class. They were singing all the words, a lovely crowd to sing to. I’m excited to see what it’s like this time now that it’s on a bigger scale. We’re bringing the band over as well, so it should be good.”

In addition to his supporting band, James will also bring his new album, Only Ticket Home, which was released late last year and went straight to number two in the Irish charts.

The album features the the triumphant love song Glow, which is accompanied by a feelgood video where the singer walks through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar singing and being joined by all the hen parties, buskers, visitors and mime artists of Dublin’s famous tourist trap.

“We did it in Temple Bar because I played there for years before I got a deal. When I left school, I went straight into Temple Bar and did gigs, 15 gigs a week, but it helped me learn how to sing, write songs and play so I thought I would do a video in Temple Bar and get everybody involved.

“We were lucky with the weather. I remember somebody was saying, ‘We should go to Portugal or something’. I was like, ‘We have to do it in Ireland’.”

From Temple Bar, the then 21-year-old would go onto sign a record deal. His debut album Bitter Pill was released in 2016 and reached number five in Ireland.

James once said that every gig he does is like a party that he is never quite sure anyone is going to show up for. Even now, does he still get that feeling?

“Definitely. It always comes back. I put my first show on in Brazil last year. I was like, ‘Is anyone actually going to come to this show in Brazil? I’m just some lad from Dublin that has one song on the radio over here’.

“I didn’t expect anybody to show up because you never know. The Irish crowds have always been amazing and very welcoming but then you go to a new market, you never know.

“You’re always unsure no matter how much you get played on the radio or how much streaming there is, it all depends on whether it connects with people or not. I think it’s always just a shot in the dark no matter where you play really and if it goes well, book the next tour immediately.”

Just so you know, people did show up to his Brazilian shows and he is booked to go back to play a venue as big as Dublin’s Olympia in Sao Paulo:

“It’s mad that it’s so far away and the music still reaches; it’s deadly.”

Gavin James returns to Australia in March for a whistle-stop tour.

Gavin James returns to Australia in March for a whistle-stop tour.

The Brazilian connection came about after his music featured on Brazilian soap opera Pega Pega and, when he visited the country, he did a cameo performance.

So, how was his South American soap opera debut? “It was gas. The director wanted me to speak in Portuguese but my accent was terrible. There was a girl and her boyfriend, I think they were making up or something. I ended up doing a couple of takes saying it in Portuguese and eventually they took me saying, ‘Howaya, Luisa. This song is for you’. It wasn’t even, ‘Hey, Luisa’. It was, ‘Howaya, Luisa’. It was very funny.”

His music has also featured on the popular Aussie soap Home And Away but he says he’s not sure about seeking a role in Summer Bay.

“I’ll head down to the set and see what happens. They’re always playing the tunes. I always get a text off my ma every time saying, ‘you’re on Home And Away again’.”

The now 27-year-old is also huge in Holland, Singapore and the Phillipines to name just a few faraway places his music has reached.

One memorable recent gig for James involved playing a set at Conor McGregor’s sister’s wedding. How did he come to perform at the family gathering of another very famous Dubliner?

“She was a big fan so his publicist gave me a shout and asked if I was around and the wedding was half an hour from my gaff so I went down, played Nervous, played a couple of tunes at the wedding. I didn’t even meet him. I just ran in, did the wedding and then had to make it back to the airport to get back to London.”

Gavin James plays The Foundry in Brisbane on Thursday 21 March; The Prince Bandroom in Melbourne on Friday 22 March; Manning Bar in Sydney on Saturday 23 March and Badlands in Perth on Sunday 24 March.

Get set for tsunami of Irish music

Luka Bloom returns to Australia after a four-year absence.

Luka Bloom returns to Australia after a four-year absence.

Fans of Irish music might need to brace for a ticket-buying frenzy as a virtual invasion of artists prepare to travel Down Under over coming months

The East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay over Easter has a distinct Irish accent next year with Hozier and Imelda May both headlining.

Hozier is now a genuine superstar who has built up a massive following around the world since his breakthrough hit Take Me To Church in 2013.

Damien Rice makes a welcome return to Australia.

Damien Rice makes a welcome return to Australia.

Dubliner Imelda May looks very different to when she first toured Australia in 2011. Now, having abandoned her rockabilly look and sound, she has established herself as a brilliant soul and jazz singer.

Also on the bill at Byron Bay are Canadian based Irish singer Irish Mythen, honorary Irishman David Gray and Irish-American Celtic funk band Flogging Molly.

Ahead of that, in February, the uber-talented Damien Rice returns for his first Aussie tour in a decade.

Playing intimate venues like the City Recital Hall in Sydney Rice is slated to “take audiences on a familiar yet unique musical journey – presenting much-loved classics, with the tease of new music on the horizon”.

In March, Gavin James returns after a very successful tour in 2016.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival and Blue Mountains Folk Festival also boast some awesome Irish talent with Luka Bloom returning to Australia for his first tour in five years. Also performing at those festivals in the remarkable Wallis Bird. Born left-handed, she lost the four fingers and thumb of her left hand in a lawnmower accident and had four sewn back on. She got used to playing a right-handed guitar upside-down, which explains her unconventional style.

Hozier plays the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

Hozier plays the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

Also hitting the festival circuit will be Daoiri Farrell. The former electrician, who decided to become a musician after seeing Christy Moore perform, has been described by some of the biggest names in Irish folk music as one of most important singers to come out of Ireland in recent years.

Sharon Shannon also returns to Australia in February for a shows in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Also in Australia that month will be crooner Daniel O’Donnell.

Dublin’s Kodaline also return to Oz for the first time since their sold-out 2014 tour. The indie pop quartet have gigs lined up in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth after a St Patrick’s Day show in Melbourne.

Fans of Irish pop can look forward to a reformed Boyzone touring in March and April. Before that, Irish girl group B*Witched will arrive for shows from the end of January.

Celtic Tenors also arrive in May for a national tour.

Electro-folk duo on first Australian tour

Saint Sister have won praise in Ireland for their ‘atmosfolk’ sound.

Saint Sister have won praise in Ireland for their ‘atmosfolk’ sound.

The Irish Times says, “their haunting performance is impeccable”, while Hot Press laud their “tremendous vocal depth and vulnerability”. 

They once sang with world conquering Hozier at Trinity College and now, Irish electro-folk duo Saint Sister are headed to Australia for their first tour which will include Sydney Irish Festival and Mullum Music Festival. 

Described as a mix of early harp traditional, folk and electronic pop or simply ‘atmosfolk’, Saint Sister is made up of Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre, who first came together in 2014. Their first trip down under comes immediately after the October release of their debut album, Shape of Silence, produced by Alex Ryan (Hozier’s bassist). 

“I’ve always wanted to come and see Australia and we definitely weren’t expecting to be able to go this soon,” Doherty tells The Irish Echo.

MacIntyre adds: “It’s a dream come true to be able to get to go to Australia at this stage. We’re really looking forward to it.”

The band will join big names like Damien Dempsey, Mary Black and Lunasa for the Sydney Irish Festival that takes place over the weekend of 10-11 November and also includes a hurling match between Kilkenny and Galway. 

Gemma says: “It’s very exciting. I came from a very traditional Irish background so it’s where a lot of our influences come from, maybe they don’t come directly out on the surface but that’s kind of the world I grew up in so it’s really lovely to be able to cross over into that more traditional Irish folk world sometimes. I’m really excited about that line-up.”

MacIntyre believes expat audiences will relate to Saint Sister’s sound with its innate sense of longing.

“I think Irish music in general has a lot of nostalgia and longing and yearning,” she says. 

“Every kind of Irish music somehow has that innate sense of longing. I think it’s just the make up of us as a country and because we have such a big diaspora, that longing is exacerbated and exaggerated in those forms (music, literature).  

“Music is such a big connector as well. I think we’re lucky as Irish musicians that when we’re travelling around the world , we have this ready made group of people that understand us and it’s probably not the same for other people whose nationalities doesn’t have as big a diaspora. 

“I think that makes it very easy to relate to and it makes it easy for touring musicians from Ireland because you can go away and know you’ll be understood and that your sense of identity and longing and all that stuff that comes with being an Irish person will translate.”

Doherty adds: “It’s incredible to be going to the other side of the world and having a huge bunch of people who have already come from where you’ve come from. Hopefully there’s a connection there already.”

From Derry and Belfast respectively, Doherty and MacIntyre moved to Dublin in 2010 to study at Trinity College where they met. They sang in the Trinity Orchestra together with Hozier before deciding to join together for their own project. Their sound can be described as dreamy, a feeling that is created by their atmospheric sound and beautiful harmonies.  

Their album title, Shape Of Silence, comes, MacIntyre says, from their interest in “the idea of space and what can be said and what can be felt in the gaps, whether it is gaps in the lyrics or the music.  And what can be said when you’re not saying anything. 

“Silence is quite a deadly thing and quite a powerful thing. We thought it was interesting to think about it as something you can touch and hold and that had weight and was very heavy, so that’s where Shape of Silence came from. It seemed to suit the kind of world we were going for.” 

The album has slowly come together over the last three years as the offers to gig kept coming in, disrupting what could have been writing or recording time. However, this suited them as they still were able to put out material such as their Madrid EP or Tin Man single, both tracks that feature on the album. 

Saint Sister play Sydney Irish Festival on Saturday November 10, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne on Sunday November 11, The Lansdowne in Sydney on Tuesday November 13 and Mullum Music Festival on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November. For more information, go to www.saintsisterband.com