Our contributor Ellie O'Byrne selects her 2019 highlights

Our contributor Ellie O'Byrne selects her 2019 highlights

Live Music highlights

John Grant’s gig at Cork Opera House back in March was everything: his incredible song-writing, his voice and his honesty. I saw emerging Belfast singer and multi-instrumentalist Kitt Philippa for the first time — a singular talent.

There were loads of other exciting firsts: Thumper at Music Cork and Murder Capital at All Together Now spring to mind, but most exciting of all was bringing my 14-year-old daughter to see LP in the Olympia, not only for the singer’s breath-taking performance and stage presence, but also for the joy of seeing it all through my daughter’s eyes. A gig we’ll both remember.

Film

Gaza, a documentary co-directed by Irish director Garry Keane and Northern Irish photographer Andrew McConnell, is outstanding, with moments of surreal humour interspersed with the grim realities of day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip.

TV

The Young Offenders continues to be brilliant and funny.

Live event

Teac Damhsa’s Loch na hEala at Sounds From A Safe Harbour was the piece of theatre of the year for me. I bawled my head off. A phenomenal combination of dance, theatre and Slow Moving Clouds’ live score. I’m so glad this production is touring internationally. It’s ingenious, beautiful,uplifting and very Irish.

Visual art

Melbourne sculptor Sam Jinks brought his meticulous andhyper-real sculptures to Galway International Arts Festival this year.

Interviewing him was a thought-provoking pleasure; it’s always nice to talk to someone who excels at what they do and his unique outlook and attitude to humankind was a breath of fresh air.

Lowlight

Big festivals selling out before a line-up is announced. You’re basically sending a message to organisers that punters don’t care about the music. I propose a new rule: if you pre-bought your ticket, you rescind all rights to bitch about the quality of music at the festival.

Favourite pieces you worked on:

Given Jason Williamson’s aggressive on-stage edge when he’s performing as one half of post-punk duo Sleaford Mods, I was more than a little nervous phoning him for our interview: would he ridicule my questions, answer monosyllabically and tell me to eff off?

You’re always more nervous anyway when you’re a bit of a fan, which I am. Anything but. He was polite and earnest, considering each question carefully and providing authentic and intriguing answers: he listens to Luther Vandross and Chaka Khan while on tour, ‘oo knew?

Looking forward to next year:

I’m really looking forward to seeing Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburnat the National Concert Hall in January.

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