Galway Arts Festival line-up preview

Primal Scream, David Holmes, and Spiritualized join Big Top line up

THE GALWAY Arts Festival takes place from Monday July 13 to Sunday 26 and this year’s programme will be launched on Tuesday June 2. However if you can’t wait until then, here is a sneak preview of what to expect.

Big Top

Although there are more announcements to come, all that serious music/indie/folk-rock heads in the city are talking about is Bon Iver - and rightly so. Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, will play his only Irish show this year at the Big Top in the Fisheries Field on Thursday July 23 at 7pm. Tickets are €35.50 from Ticketmaster and Singer-songwriter David Gray will play the Big Top in the Fisheries Field on Tuesday July 21 with support from David Kitt. Tickets for this show are also on sale.

This week it was announced that Primal Scream, Spiritualized, and David Holmes will make up a sensational triple -bill on July 24. All three acts changed the face of music in the 1990s and today they still retain their relevance and creativity, with a desire to push the musical boundaries.

Nigerian legend Femi Kuti, the standard bearer for Nigeria’s funky, feisty afrobeat sound will also play live at the Festival Big Top on July 22 at 7pm. Support on the night will be from Mercuryboy Inc, the Irish media house and visuals collective.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday May 27 at 9am and can be purchased online at,, at all Ticketmaster outlets nationwide, or by calling Ticketmaster on 0818 - 719300.

Other music

The Róisín Dubh has an exciting line-up of shows for the arts festival with at least three genuinely legendary acts due to take the stage in the shape of the New York Dolls, Candy Staton, and Brooker T.

The New York Dolls, whose eponymous 1973 debut album is the link between glam rock and punk, will play towards the end of the festival. The band, led by its two surviving original members David Johansen and Sylvian Sylvian, have just released a new album ‘Cause I Sez So, which has been receiving the thumbs up from critics.

Keyboard wizard and soul man supreme, Brooker T, best known for leading the MGs and for the classic hit soul/blues instrumental hit ‘Green Onions’ plays the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday July 21.

Another legend, Candy Staton, who is best known for her 1976 smash hit ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ will also be playing the festival. After many years of disco and soul hits, Staton devoted herself to performing gospel music. In 2006 she returned to soul with New York indie-folk band O’Death will play their raucous, punk fuelled, take on American folk on Monday July 20 at 8pm. “Punk rock and folk are very similar,” O’Death bassist Jesse Newman told me when I interviewed him last year. “People have this image of folk as prim, cloying, and gentle but there are folk singers with huge, powerful, killer voices and raucous, wild music. That’s folk music and we try to retain that.”

The Hot 8 Brass Band, a New Orleans group which blends hip-hop, jazz, and funk styles with traditional New Orleans brass sounds will play also. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Hot 8 Brass Band was propelled to wider prominence by an appearance in Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary When The Levees Broke. By all accounts their version of Mavin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ has to be heard to be believed. Gig date to be announced.

Jerry Fish and The Mudbug Club play the Róisín on Saturday July 18. Jack L is also confirmed for a show at the Dominick Street venue during the festival.

Classical music fans can look forward to The Kronos Quartet. Date and venue to be announced.

Visual arts

David Hockney, one of the giants of modern British art and a key figure in the 1960s pop art movement, will be exhibiting at the Galway Arts Festival.

Among the visual arts highlights of this year’s festival is an exhibition of etchings by David Hockney illustrating the six fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. Hockney is one of the most popular and versatile British artists of his generation working as a painter, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer.

Theatre and dance

Combining extreme circus skills with dance, movement, lighting, and a magnificent contemporary string soundtrack, Australia’s Circa return to the festival for the European premiere of their new show Furioso. Furioso was created by Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble. It runs from Tuesday July 21 to Sunday 26 at the Black Box Theatre.

Tom Murphy’s masterpiece, The Gigli Concert will officially open Druid’s newly refurbished theatre on Chapel Lane in Galway during the festival. Directed by the Tony award winning artistic director of Druid, Garry Hynes, the staging of this production revives the relationship between Tom Murphy and Druid who have previously worked together on Conversations On A Homecoming and Bailegangaire.


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