- 27 Mar 09
Seven Irish newcomers – including Halves, Grand Pocket Orchestra, Heathers and The Minutes – gathered for a showcase gig at historic Toronto venue The Hideout.
Returning to the country of my birth, staying at the same hotel as Gene Simmons and seeing some brilliant Irish bands up close were personal were the highlights for me as I attended this year’s Canadian Music Week (CMW for short). The opportunity to broadcast from the headquarters of CBC, the national broadcaster I grew up listening to, was pretty cool too.
With help from Culture Ireland, The Arts Council, IMRO and FMC, seven Irish newcomers had gathered at historic Toronto venue The Hideout.
First up were Grand Pocket Orchestra, who impressed with their energetic stage presence and catchy songs. Carry on like this and they have the potential to become the new Fight Like Apes.
Next came Halves, arguably the most sonically complex Irish group attending CMW. Their songbook is a beguiling fusion of electronica and rock, played on an eye-popping array of instruments. Long may they continue to thrive at the arty-edge of the indie spectrum.
Twin sisters Louise and Ellie, aka Heathers, hit the stage with a mix of duetting vocals and one acoustic guitar (which thankfully turned up after going missing en route from Newark to Toronto). At moments it seemed as if their voices were going to lift the roof (no, not literally). They’re due back in North America shortly for a US tour – but only after Louise has finished college for the current academic year.
Hooray For Humans may have gone through a few line-up changes lately but they’ve lost none of their quirky appeal or ability to win over an audience (they’ve also got amazing hair). Clearly, they’ve struck a chord in Canada – by the end of the Corkonians’ slot The Hideout was stuffed to capacity.
Fellow Leesiders Fred were a little late hitting the stage as singer Joe had a dicky stomach. Bandmates confided that they couldn’t tell if it was a bad meal or a booze-induced episode – either way, it didn’t slow him down once the band kicked off their set, blazing through the singles ‘Running’, ‘Skyscrappers’ and – a particular favourite of mine – ‘The Lights’. Standing by my side, my sister Karen told me they were her favourite act of the night so far. This was good to hear as their latest album, Go God Go was recently released in Canada.
Giveamanakick are not only one of Ireland’s most exciting bands – they’re also the funniest. They blew the audience away with their fantastic gut-bucket rock and their hilarious between-song banter. Next up on their schedeule – of all things – an acoustic tour! Clearly, they like to push themselves to the limit.
Finishing off a brilliant night were Dublin’s hot new young things, The Minutes. I’ve been buzzing about these guys since hearing the single ‘Harmonic’ – it’s one of my regular plays on the radio. In the flesh, they’re even more impressive. They have fantastic facial hair, strike brilliant poses and really know how to kick out the jams. Expect to hear a lot more from them in 2009! Could my evening get any better? Not unless I bumped into a certain Mr Simmons back at the hotel. Well, a girl can dream.
Listen to the Alison Curtis Show, Monday to Thursday from 10pm to midnight on Today FM. Check out todayfm.com/alisoncurtis
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