Live music review: Starboard Home (various artists), National Concert Hall, Dublin

Marcus Connaughton and Bobby Kerr at Starboard Home. Picture:Brian McEvoy

****

The iconic twin smokestacks of Poolbeg Power Station have quietly inspired generations and are an important, if often overlooked, part of Dublin’s character.

They popped up in Colum McCann’s Let The Great World Spin, a cipher for Manhattan’s World Trade Centre, and (to stretch the point slightly) have been likened to the Eiffel Tower by sculptor Patrick O’Reilly.

Now they are being reclaimed by the artistic community with Dublin Port commissioning a concept album about the city’s seaward margins and the chimneys that gaze down, familiar yet always unknowable.

The port has shaped Dublin’s relationship with the wider world. Starboard Home delves into this twilight on the fringes of the capital’s sense of itself, with contributions from Bell X1’s Paul Noonan, Gemma Hayes and Duke Special.

Together they have produced a peerless valentine to Dublin’s in-between spaces.

The same sense of standing on the cusp of the cosy and the confounding colours this live performance of the project, with Hayes emoting her heart out on the lilting ‘Caught In the Rapids’ and Duke Special, hidden behind a piano and a vast top hat, drawing on his repertoire of switch-blade melodies on ‘Button Men’.

The Blades’ Paul Cleary pushed back against the wistfulness with ‘Kingfisher Blue’, a celebration of dirty Dublin, with its seagulls and squally drizzle, and Lisa O’Neill and The Dubliners’ John Sheahan delivered a keening encore of ‘Raglan Road’.

However, the definitive statement was courtesy of Noonan, who imagined Radiohead’s Thom Yorke taking the saddest Viking Splash Tour ever, with ‘Steel Ballet’ and smashed you into a hundred brittle little pieces along the way.


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