Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Arthur's Day celebrations at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin

It’s 17:59, and as people share a toast, it’s left to Dave Peyton and his able band to begin the celebrations. The lads deserve a glass-raising themselves – they’re tight, energetic and possess a clutch of memorable songs. If there’s not raucous applause, it’s only because everyone has a drink their hands. We’re suitably warmed.

The Chapters continue the fun-time vibe, even attempts at singalongs and Ross McNally’s forays into the crowd seem to work. They’re all lyrics about girls, multi-harmonies, handclaps and insta-melodies. It’s a spirited set.

Cathy Davey is next. Opening with new favourite ‘Little Red’ from this year’s The Nameless, Davey proceeds to run through the back catalogue, playing the songs, like ‘Moving’, that made her name. When the lights are lowered halfway through and she enters the military beat of ‘Army Of Tears’, her special quality is revealed through the black haze.

The dapper Mick Jones is next up, sadly to much “who’s this guy?” commentary from the audience. Not that he looks like he gives a toss. He’s joined by his Carbon/Silicon cohorts (including Generation Xer Tony James) as they play a blistering set a group half their age could scarcely muster up. A version of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ is a proper ‘moment’, raising an audible “so that’s who he is!” reaction from the crowd and getting everyone dancing.

And then we wait. And wait. Paolo Nutini is on his way up from Cork – he must have lost luggage. Hordes of eager female fans predictably go a tad crazy when he eventually shows. He’s the perfect act for this kind of shindig, with a warm voice and onstage presence, all about spreading the happiness. His cover of ‘Time To Pretend’ is a highlight, as is the joyous ’Pencil Full Of Lead’.

It’s left to Dublin’s Imelda May to close proceedings. Never one to disappoint, her set is proof that everyone could use more rockabilly in their life. A terrific end, leaving the cockle warmed punters utterly contented as they shamble out into the Arthur’s Night.


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