Line Up: Lisa Hannigan / Sharon Shannon
Now this was gonna be good. Not so much a gig but a great excuse to get fucked out of my brain on Guinness. Yes today was the very first celebration of Arthur Guinness; the 250 year anniversary no less. What better way to celebrate than to drink lots of the stuff. Making sure I had no plans for the next day so as to give me plenty of HRT (Hangover Recovery Time) me and usual partner in crime, The Mrs, decided on O’Donoghues Pub as the venue of choice. In truth this was going to be a bit of a guessing game. No one knew which acts would be in each venue but it wasn’t really going to matter. The atmosphere and the excitement that Guinness had managed to build up for a celebration of themselves, on as Thursday night, in Dublin was great in itself. Backed up with great music all over the city was a brilliant bonus.
Ok at this point I should say that yes of course it was a marketing ploy from Guinness. They are the masters of marketing. With such a strong brand it is pretty hard for them to go wrong. In their defence a lot of money raised was going to charities (as has always being the case with Guinness) although I’m sure the advertising and exposure they got in return far outweighed that. That aside though the buzz around the city was fantastic, the pubs full at 5.30 in preparation to the toast at 5.59 (17.59) was a novelty and the chance to see some big names in small venues was something not to be missed.
O’Donoghues was jammed. The toast was completed and the Guinness was flowing…a little too easily. The first act walked in and set up her stuff. Irish ‘Trad’ hero Sharon Shannon (If you know the song, Galway Girl, then you know Sharon) was the act and she seemed to be a perfect choice to start up the festivities in such a Dublin landmark for Trad music. Having said that, Daffy Duck could probably have walked in and everyone would have loved his rendition of Dirty Old Town, it was that kind of night.
Rumours of who was going to be the main act circulated the pub. Everyone from Tom Jones to the Manic Street Preachers was mentioned. I was hoping for David Gray myself but knew the chances were low. As it turned out we got Irish singer, Lisa Hannigan. Yes I was slightly disappointed but at the same time knew she was good….but very mellow. Mellow I like, but in a rowdy Dublin pub full of pissed up Irish it can also be difficult. As she started singing we edged closer and were practically stood in front of her and listened to her beautiful voice as she sang her songs. I’m not sure how many others listened as intently as behind us there seemed to be a sea of noise. Lisa battled on, looking sheepish at times, but she is a fine woman who Ireland should be proud of. Hugely talented it remains to be seen whether she can break from the Damien Rice connection and have success on her own. You get the feeling she doesn’t really care and that is what is refreshing about many Irish singer songwriters. Ms Hannigan is one of Ireland’s finest and should be cherished. Tonight she was great and it’s a shame that maybe the venue was too noisy for her songs. We heard and loved them though…and that suited me just fine.
We decided to move location after Lisa had finished her set as I had heard that David Gray was playing Whelan’s at midnight. Unfortunately without a ticket and with no one willing to part with one…and no one really paying me much attention, we didn’t get in. This turned out to be greatly frustrating as the next day I heard that it was a fabulous gig only spoilt by an annoying corporate group of people (including quite a few Guinness employees) who had got free tickets and chatted all the way through.
That didn’t spoil our evening though. In fact Arthur’s Day 2009 was a great night. Marketing genius? Yes. Do I care? No. I hear this is to become an annual event. For me that is great news as the chance to see big acts in Irish pubs can only be a good thing.
Ticket: September 24th 2009
Ticket Price: €9.00