Tag Archives: contemporary music

Bring on the Night- The Corrs Dazzling Homecoming Gig, Dublin 28-01-16

As I write this, five days and 21 hours have passed since the Corrs made their truly glorious return to the Point Depot (called the 3Arena nowadays), Dublin. The brilliant buzz still hasn’t faded and from I see from fans Instagram accounts, it’s not going anywhere fast!

We always said it was going to happen yet last summer out of the blue 😉 the Corrs announced they were returning to music after a 10-year break. The gig: BBC Radio 2 Live in London’s Hyde Park. Their new single Bring on the Night followed shortly and after an abundance of teaser video clips and photos taken by all Corr siblings and their producer, John Shanks from the studio (Ananda Entertainment, Hollywood and Metropolis, London), their new album White Light was released in Ireland and the UK along with a string of tour dates. Two Irish dates, the Point, Dublin and the Odyssey, Belfast were included to conclude the mini-tour.

Who's are who's? #sisters #thecorrsofficial #warnermusicuk #whitelight

A post shared by Sharon Corr (@sharoncorrofficial) on

Fast forward to the 28th of January, 2016. We wake with a bolt and get to Dublin armed with raincoats, hats, scarves and nibbles. My dear friend Anne had travelled from Berlin, Germany just for this day- we met on a Corrs fan website some 16 years ago and have kept in touch ever since, meeting every few years in both countries. This was to be the most perfect day we could ever spend together- finally experiencing the Corrs music live with each other!

We arrive at the Point in the wind and rain to find a handful of hard-Corr fans already waiting, huddled in the arches. Hailing from Portugal, Brazil and Scotland, they greet us warmly, smiling broadly with excitement. It was only 2:30pm but they were there since 8am! We all watch our phones eagerly, checking Instagram and Twitter for any posts from the Corrs- only to be teased with a snap of Caroline sitting triumphantly behind her drum kit, arms raised in the air and wearing a winning smile, all under a magnificent white light in the venue. We get giddy and beg for time for pass by quicker!

#Dublin #whitelighttour

A post shared by Caroline Corr (@carolinecorrofficial) on

Thankfully time did indeed pass us by swiftly and we found ourselves smack-bang in the middle of the front row! We can’t believe our luck- everyone who made it early and braved the cold weather was the front row.

The Shires burst onto the stage after a short introduction from their band- who I have to say were rock-solid. Drummer Ollie Harding particularly impressed me with his heavy yet steady playing. The Shires delivered an upbeat, cheerful and entertaining set, warming up the crowd perfectly for the Corrs.

An hour later, after a frantic yet systematic set up for the Corrs, the lights dimmed, a haunting bass drone fades in and the crowd erupted in roaring applause and cheers of excitement. The thunderous drumming that is undoubtedly Caroline Corr solo fills the arena and all we see on the side screens are her silhouette on a white background- the much-anticipated introduction we’ve all been waiting for and heard so much about, absolutely knocked our socks off!

Suddenly the curtain goes up and we see Caroline belting her kit with all her might, completely focussed and seemingly unaware of the spotlight. We’re already jumping in delight at this treat and the next thing, the entire band are revealed standing in the middle of the stage- Andrea is beaming with her beautiful smile, she looks like she’s breathing heavily in excitement, Jim is to her left looking cool and collected with his rockstar shades and brilliant green electric guitar while Sharon stands tall to Andrea’s right, clutching her violin, smiling somewhat nervously. Anto Drennan on guitar and Keith Duffy on bass stand either side of Caroline- not Corrs by name but certainly are family for both have been in the band from the beginning and are recognised and loved by the fans.

Opening with I Do What I Like, the leading track of White Light, Andrea danced her way to her microphone, still smiling, looking adorable in her tiny ballerina flats. She looked everyone in the front row right in the eyes and I felt as if she were an old friend. I had the pleasure of being at Lansdowne Road 1999 and the Point 2004 but I was nowhere near the front! This was the first time in my life I was seeing Andrea up close and personal! She has an incredible stage presence and I’m not talking about the type of awe that surrounds Sting or the sheer force of power that’s James Hetfield of Metallica (all concerts I’ve sung my heart out to), it’s a totally different presence. Here is an incredibly talented singer and tin whistle player who’s very much a icon in pop music yet she has a sweet sensitive nature on stage. Maybe it’s the way she dances like a tiny fairy, maybe it’s her aura or energy or the way her dark brown eyes look straight into your soul while she’s singing- perhaps it’s all of the above combined with the fact she’s got her feet planted on the ground. Andrea Corr impressed me immensely as a musician and as a human being.

Of course it’s not entirely all about Andrea! Jim has been a hero for me throughout the years- I was inspired by his musical diversity and creativity- playing various different instruments on all the studio albums and live. You name it, Jim Corr plays it. He’s also big into music production- the mics, the desks and all the gear. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Jim personally about the Corrs production style on their second studio album Talk on Corners (1997) just over a year ago and I could have listened to him for hours. Seeing him for absolute real in the Point was a dream come true for my fan-self. Effortlessly cool while providing backing vocals and rockin’ out on guitar, he provided big-brotherly support to his sisters who all looked at him adoringly at some point or another throughout the show. Still the rock and clearly the (unofficial) band leader, Jim swopped between electric and acoustic guitars and jumped onto keyboards throughout the set.

Surprising us with their second song, Give me a Reason was somewhat unexpected- mind you, a very pleasant surprise! Anthemic melodies and driving drums, the crowd sang their hearts out. Andrea looked lost of words after each song as the crowd literally screamed in sheer adoration up at the band. Keith Duffy never once stopped smiling behind Jim.

The band delivered hit after hit- Forgiven Not Forgotten, Bring on the Night, What Can I Do and Radio before settling down into a relaxed set which saw Caroline rise from her kit and take a seat at the front, right between Andrea and Jim. Known for being the shy Corr, she looked rather nervous taking her place on her cajon drum box. It can’t have been easy to step up into the front-line of camera-phones and strange faces when you’re used to the security a huge drum-kit! No need for her to be nervous, she took up band leadership, driving the group with expertise percussive skills on cajon, bodhran and shaker.

Starting with a beautiful medley of Lough Erin Shore/Joy of Life/Trout in the Bath, the Corrs prove they still very much value their traditional Irish roots and are still top-class! The sound was exquisite. Simple, serene and traditional. Next up 1996 hit Runaway proved to be still the fans favourite when the audience actually sang louder than the Corrs themselves! The look of pure astonishment on Andrea’s face was priceless! Played beautifully, still in unplugged-style Runaway was the song of the night. A couple of songs from the new album, Stay and Ellis Island fit perfectly into the set. Andrea strummed her ukulele to Stay– clearly this is a personal favourite of the band’s (there are two versions on White Light, the band opting for the more wholesome, slow-tempo version for the show. Ellis Island was visually enhanced with spectacular yet poignant graphics on the big screens. A song about emigration and full of sorrow, the band absolutely nailed it live. The audience were visibly moved as the voices around me hushed and drank in the emotion.

A moment of comic relief during the next song, Buachaill On Eirne as Andrea momentarily drew a blank on the opening lyrics. She stopped in her tracks, clearly mortified and burst into a fit of giggles, looking at her siblings for support. Everyone onstage giggled and helped her remember the Irish lyrics. Andrea couldn’t apologise enough to the audience (who thought she was being hopelessly adorable!) for her first ever blank moment on stage and voiced she hoped her old Irish teacher wasn’t attending the gig tonight!

Another total surprise for us was the following song Love to Love You, another 1996 gem. I think it was around this point in the show that I thought that this wasn’t like a reunion gig at all, more so the next stage of the Corrs music career. To be truthful the Corrs never broke up in the first place!

With Caroline back behind the kit, Andrea introduced the band one by one and the gig went back into full tilt with up-tempo Talk on Corners favourites Only When I Sleep, Queen of Hollywood and their rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. Seamlessly fitting in to the set Kiss of Life was vocally stunning. For me, one of the top songs off the new album and without a doubt one of my absolute favourite Corrs songs, Kiss of Life soared and took us all to a special place.

Bringing up the tempo again for I Never Loved You Anyway and So Young, the band brought the roof down and left the crowd begging for more.

After a brief teaser of a disappearance, the Corrs returned once more with electrifying performances of White Light, Breathless and Toss the Feathers. It was all over too soon yet the band played for a full 2 hours!

The house lights came on, the finality of the gig being over dawned on us and we exited the arena in an absolute daze! The Corrs were back, sounding amazing and clearly in top form! We left the Point Depot talking excitedly, a bag full of merchandise under our arms, giggling at the lads walking in front of us back to the city centre singing Runaway at the tops of the voices! It was truly the best homecoming the Corrs could have wished for- a huge crowd but with an intimate feel, the Corrs are still our favourite after all these years.

In case you haven’t heard the good news, the Corrs are playing again this summer- the Cork Marquee, June 9th. Tickets go on sale this Thursday (a full week after the Dublin gig! Good timing or what?!). You can be sure to find myself and Anne at the front again!

See you there!

Preview, buy and download songs from the album White Light, including I Do What I Like, Bring On the NightWhite Light and many more. Buy the album for €10.99. Songs start at €1.29. White Light by The Corrs on iTunes

 

 

 

 

 

Music and National Identity

This week’s blog considers the role of music in national identity; is it important that countries have a national anthem and are there any contemporary musical genres based around national identity? This blog also considers if contemporary youth are aware of their national identity.

A countries’ national anthem is in essence, a musical flag. It expresses to other countries the unity of it’s people and what they stand for. People take great pride in their national anthem and it can provoke strong, emotional reactions. Take for example the Olympics this year, how many athletes did we see, women AND men, standing strong, waiting to receive their medals, crumble and cry when their countries national anthem came on?! Lots! I personally found that very touching.

Let’s talk about contemporary musical genres based on national identity. The first that springs to my mind is Irish pop/rock. Take the lovely Corrs from our very own Dundalk who have a huge fan base all over the world. Of course anyone who knows me or who reads my blogs knows I was quite the “Corr-razy” fan in my early teens and I still love their music to this day.

I loved that the Corrs fused typically Irish in style melodies (some traditional, some composed by themselves) the Irish language and Irish traditional instruments (the fiddle, tin whistle, bodhrán, accordian and even uilleann pipes) with contemporary pop and rock. “Toss the Feathers” which was released on their debut album (1995) is a great example of a traditional Irish tune blended with rock. It’s exciting, catchy and very Irish! No matter what country in the world you come from, you know instantly that this is music from Ireland!

This next song influenced me in so many ways as a teenager, as a violin player, as a songwriter, it fuelled an appreciation and understanding of great songwriting and it still does. Irish traditional instruments and melodies are laced with pop and rock perfectly. I still love that funky muted rock guitar in the verses and the vocal production and that sweet drum sound. Everything about this song is perfect. It sounds as awesome to me now as it did 16 years ago. The entire album remains one of my all time favourites.

I could write forever about the Corrs’ use of Ireland’s national identity in their music, they continued to weave Irish traditional in their music right up to their most recent album “Home” (2005). I remember being at their massive concert in Lansdowne Road, Dublin in 1999 as a 15 year old and enjoying watching the fans Irish dancing, there was a real sense of national identity and a real pride to be Irish that night. It was a beautiful and rocking show!

Sharon, Andrea and Jim Corr
Sharon, Andrea and Jim Corr

The Corrs have enjoyed global success with their unique blend of traditional/celtic/folk/pop/rock/alternative music, other artists which incorporate traditional Irish identity into their contemporary music would be the Pogues, the Horslips, to a lesser degree the Cranberries (for Dolores O’Riordans’ strong Limerick accent in her vocal performance and her lyrics which occasionally were about Irish politics), Sinéad O’Connor, Enya, Clannad, Mairín Fahy etc.

Israel’s modern music is strongly linked with their national identity. Jewish and non Jewish music traditions are fused with pop, jazz and rock etc. Modern songs are fused with the traditional canonical style of singing and music (use of minor and modal keys, strong off-beat rhythms, darbuka and tambourine instruments and lyrics about Israeli life).

Cool darbuka rhythms above!

A really good example of Israeli national identity within music is Rita, an artist who sings in her native Persian language and uses traditional instruments with pop. Her music, along with most other Western music is banned in Iran yet she is extremely popular with both peoples. Check out her recent hit “Shane” .

Lastly I will briefly talk about the importance of national identity in the age of the Internet. I’ve been asked to consider if it is important to young people in the global village. I would say yes, that it is very important. This is just my personal opinion, I haven’t done any research, I think that would be an interesting project in itself! 😉

I believe that people from different countries enjoy sharing music and culture through the use of the social media. Every day I see in my Facebook feed photos, witty jokes, status updates and music in various languages. I have a lovely circle of friends from Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, New Zealand, Latvia, Mauritius, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, as well as other English speaking countries- America, Canada, Australia and the U.K. I find through Facebook that young people are quick to show their pride for their country, even if they aren’t living in their country of birth.

Again I’m thinking of the Olympics- wasn’t Facebook and Twitter feed FULL of national pride during the events?!

I hope this makes my readers think about their national identities and I hope they feel proud of their culture and heritage! I believe the Internet has made the world a smaller place but this has not diminished national identities in any way.

Peace out.

Playlist Project #4; 5 Songs Which Have A Political Message

This week’s playlist is 5 songs across any genre which have a political message. This is an easy playlist, there are so many political songs! Here’s 5 I personally enjoy:

1. “Searchlight” – Fallon Bowman (2003)

This song comes from the politically heavy album “District 6”, the first solo album by Fallon Bowman (formerly of Canadian heavy metal band Kittie). The album was released under the artist title Amphibious Assault. Ms Bowman is my absolute favourite singer and I’ve been a fan of her since 1999! This was the first song I heard from her debut solo album and I still love it.

This song talks about the peacetime during the Cold War.

“A cold war peacetime,
Fuels a struggle of divine,
Magnitude and strengthens weakness,
Illuminates the searchlight.”

There is no official video for this song, this video is a fan upload.

2. “Russians” – Sting (1985)

I’m a big Sting fan and I’ve always adored this song for it’s beautiful minor key and instrumentation. This song really moves me and gives me goosebumps. Opening with the ticking bomb sound, the political theme is set straight away. In essence the song is about the Cold War. Every lyric makes reference to it. A lyric I particularly love is “There’s no such thing as a winnable war. It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore”. Sting expresses his fear for “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy” and his lack of faith in America’s defence when he sings;

“Mr. Reagan says we will protect you. I don’t subscribe to this point of view. Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too”

3. “Zombie” – The Cranberries (1994)

A song I didn’t discover until I was 19 years old when my old rock band Black Daisy covered it as part of our live set. I fell in love with the song for it’s raw guitars and beautiful haunting melody. Of course I’ve heard it way too many times since, radio overplay has killed it but I can’t bear to leave it out of my list.

Lyrically the song expresses the pain caused by war and also the madness and disillusionment that always comes with it. It is a song for the innocents involved. (“Another mother’s breaking heart is taking over the violence”). It does not have a side nor express an opinion. It does make reference to the 1916 Rising which suggests the song is about political Ireland. (“It’s the same old thing since 1916. In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting”). The term “zombie” could signify the soldier or political leader    who has no thoughts- he who kills without thinking of the innocent victims and the grief violence causes- “Whats in your head, Zombie?”

4. “B.Y.O.B” – System of a Down (2005)

Hard to pick just one song from this band! A truly wonderful band they are! Love, love them! This song is a protest song about the war in Iraq. What I think is really clever is the pop melody for the lyrics – “Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time. Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine”, combined with the distorted guitars. These lyrics suggest that America enjoys going to Iraq and has a good time there, killing and causing unrest. It doesn’t get more blatent than the following lyrics – “Blast off, it’s party time. And we don’t live in a fascist nation” and “Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?”

5. “Black Rain” – Ozzy Osbourne (2007)

Another song about Iraq. Ozzy expresses his bafflement with the war-

“Politicians confuse me
I watch the body count rise
Why are the children all marching
Into the desert to die?”

He clearly sees no point in countries meddling with other countries politics-

“We’ve got our marching orders
Defenders of our home and our pride
We’ve crossed too many borders
Military suicide”

I really like this song. Ozzy really has a way with phrasing words and expressing a message clearly.

Again, no official video for this:

Peace out! 🙂