Scene & heard: The latest entertainment news

Des O’Driscoll shares the latest news from the entertainment world.

MUSIC NEWS: Taylor Swift may be one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, but her two Dublin dates (June 15 and 16) are part of a slew of concerts yet to sell out on her world tour. The Daily Telegraph reports that tickets are still available for all of the American singer’s US and UK gigs. Meanwhile, with the pro- Palestinian boycott of Israel very much in the news recently following Lorde’s cancellation of a gig in Tel Aviv, Irish opera singer Celine Byrne, pictured above, is among the artists facing calls not to perform in the Middle Eastern state. The 37-year-old soprano is due to appear in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv in February.

The Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign had called on Byrne to join a boycott that has been quite divisive in the music industry. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd has been among the most vocal proponents of an anti- Aparthied style cultural boycott of Israel, but Radiohead and Nick Cave were among the major acts who played in the country last year. Byrne looks set to join the latter camp, and earlier this week tweeted: “I’m looking forward to performing @IsraeliOpera”.

Finally, as the industry still adjusts to the digital age, there’s an interesting lawsuit under way in the US, with Wixen Music Publishing claiming it is owed by $1.6bn (€1.32bn) by Spotify. Wixen, which claims rights to songs by the likes of Tommy Petty, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks, says Spotify “failed in many cases to license the compositions embodied within each recording”. Spotify has faced various challenges over the years by artists who object to its payments system, but some musicians prefer that low-paid model to the zero offerings of online piracy and YouTube.

GIG WISE: After the pre- Christmas rush, the next few weeks will probably be a quiet time for major gig announcements. One interesting reveal from the US gave us the headliners for the Coachella festival Texas in April. The lineup may have little implication for Irish events, but can also be an indication of which stars are up and running with big shows. Beyoncé and Eminem are the major names on the bill, with Jamiroquai, David Byrne, Haim and the War on Drugs also playing.

Expect to see at least some of them on these shores in the summer. Closer to home, veteran American star Judy Collins will play Triskel in Cork on January 24, and presumably the 78-year-old’s set will include her chart-topping covers of such songs as ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘Send In The Clowns’. Upcoming gigs at Cyprus Avenue in Cork include British musician This Is The Kit on Jan 16.

FILM TIPS: Alongside the holiday blockbusters, one of the widely-praised films in cinemas at the moment is Molly’s Game, starring Jessica Chastain as the real-life Molly Bloom (skier rather than Ulysses character) who ran a major high-stakes poker game for a decade. Among today’s decent releases is Hostiles, a western starring Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale.

This period is usually the best time of year for cinema-going as distributors seek to make the most of the window between the Golden Globes (Sunday) and the Academy Awards (March 4), and next week’s release of Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing, Missouri possibly carries Ireland’s best chance of an Oscar. Pat Collins’s Song of Granite may not have made it from the longlist to the shortlist in the foreign language Oscar nominations, but its tale of traditional singer Joe Heaney has been getting the thumbs up all around from those who’ve seen it.



Breaking Stories

Appliance of Science: Why do bees makes hexagonal honeycombs?

Why you won't forget this new typeface

Online Lives: On the wild side with Emily Culhane

How Paddy McGurgan is using his art form to make a difference

More From The Irish Examiner