Live Music: Philip Chevron Testimonial, The Olympia, Dublin


Philip Chevron’s recent announcement that he has inoperable cancer prompted his friends to organise this concert in his honour.Chevron is probably best-known as the guitarist for the Pogues, but for a handful of admirers he will always be remembered for his work with his first band, The Radiators from Space, and particularly for their 1979 album, Ghostown.

MC for the evening was actor Aiden Gillen, who nailed succinctly the genius of Chevron’s contributions to Ghostown: “On songs like ‘Faithful Departed’ and ‘Kitty Ricketts’ he made the pissy backstreets of Dublin sound like the pissy backstreets of Paris.”

The evening got off to a slow start. It was not until Damien Dempsey took to the stage that there was any great sense of an occasion. Dempsey played the Pogues’ classic, ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’, and his own ‘It’s All Good’.

Thereafter, matters improved immensely. Camille O’Sullivan performed ‘Lorelei’, and Shane McGowan arrived to a hero’s welcome to deliver ‘Thousands Are Sailing’.

The Radiators, with Pete Holidai on guitar and Steve Averill on keyboards, were joined by Gavin Friday for a storming run-through of ‘Johnny Jukebox’. Pat McCabe turned up to read from John McGahern’s short story, ‘My Love, My Umbrella’. And Chevron himself came on stage to thank his colleagues and fans. He looked frail, skeletal even, but was dapper in a red suit, and his gratitude was genuinely moving.

The true heroes of the evening were Horslips, who performed their own ‘Nighttown Boy’, following it with Chevron’s ‘Kitty Ricketts’. One could easily see how one had so influenced the other.

Horslips then played Trouble and Dearg Doom, and the night finished with everyone jamming to the old Pirates number, ‘Shakin’ All Over’. It was not perhaps the most fitting tribute to a dying man, but it did illustrate how Chevron’s musical roots are as much in rock’n’roll as in European cabaret and Irish trad.

Star Rating: 4/5

Theatre: Love, Peace and Robbery, Heritage Centre, Bere Island

By Siobhán Cronin

Although originally performed in 2007, an audience unfamiliar with the history of Love, Peace and Robbery would be forgiven for thinking it was a new offering — it still sounds fresh and relevant today. The play, by Irish Examiner court reporter Liam Heylin, rounded up the month-long West Cork Fit-up Festival.

Shane Casey and Aidan O’Hare play ex-cons trying to nail the elusive ‘last ever job’ to accrue some quick cash, while Ciarán Bermingham plays a host of characters.

Casey plays Darren, a young hot-head who befriends ‘hardened’ thief Gary, and tries to convince him that a final post office robbery will net them enough funds for Darren’s bid to win back his ex-girlfriend, and pay for Gary to send his young lad to Old Trafford.

Darren’s imagined conversation with his beloved dog, Heskey, after one spliff too many is a delight and versatile actor Ciarán Bermingham puts his talent for quick character changes to good use, appearing as Gary’s love interest Margaret, a teenage neighbour, a prim post office clerk, Gary’s disgruntled son and a quick-witted garda sergeant.

The Fit-Up Festival brought four productions to small communities in West Cork, including three islands — Bere, Heir and Sherkin — this summer. Heylin’s well-observed commentary is suited to the intimate venues. The playwright allows the sense of inevitable disaster to build gradually, as the boyos set their ambitious plan in motion. When the big day finally comes, the audience is left in little doubt that this will not end well.

The interrogation scene with Bermingham as the unforgiving garda is wonderfully choreographed and lit. When the ‘reveal’ eventually comes, it’s a satisfying end to a very entertaining 75 minutes.

While it’s hard to fault any performance, Corkman Casey stands out for his ‘owning’ of the role of Darren and the Cork city lingo.

With the audience mixing with the cast on the ferry back to Castletownbere, discussing the production at length, there was a wonderful sense that Blood in the Alley’s vision of theatre that reaches out to all corners of the community had been well and truly realised. Roll on, the 2014 Fit-Up.

Star Rating: 4/5

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