Act: Damien Rice
Overlooked initially upon its 2002 release, O is a true success story of romantic proportions. Taking Ireland, the UK, Europe and now the US by storm, largely through word-of-mouth, it’s the stuff of legend. Gifted musician fronts Next Big Thing (Juniper), leaves on verge of greatness, emigrates to continental Europe to busk and grow vegetables, returns to Celbridge and home-makes an album remarkable for its originality. Heavily featuring the silky delectable vocals of Lisa Hannigan and bowing of cellist Vyvienne Long, O is packed with luscious melodies, real emotion and fantastic songs.
Act: Bell X1
Album: ‘Neither Am I’
Picture the scene – band on verge of stardom, singer leaves, cue immediate questioning about future. Bell x1 (formerly Juniper) relax, ponder their options, and with Paul Noonan at the vocal helm they produce a cracking debut. From the laidback groove of Godsong, to the distortion-laid angst of Man On Mir, and through to the almost jazz stylings of Face, Neither Am I is an absorbing debut and was worth the wait after the collapse of Juniper.
Album: ‘The Joshua Tree’
One word: masterpiece. Preceded by the promising The Unforgettable Fire and followed by the disappointing Rattle and Hum, The Joshua tree was quite possibly the best album of the entire 1980’s, deservedly won the Grammy for the Best Album of 1987, and was crammed full of singles that kids today still know – Where The streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and With Or Without You. The Joshua Tree is probably home to U2’s best non-single ever too, One Tree Hill, which wasn’t singled because it would require excessive playing which would make Bono – and probably the rest of us – cry. Pure gold.
Album: ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’
It had been a while coming – Pop and Zoo had been a bit egotistical in many people’s eyes, but in 2001 U2 decided, in Bono’s own words, to re-apply for the job of the world’s biggest band. And bloody hell, did they give it a good whack. With Beautiful Day they soared, with Stuck In A Moment… they went mellow (we blame Salman Rushdie) and with the reworked Walk On they strike the chords that only they know. The world’s biggest band? After this… probably.
Act: The Frames
Glenn Hansard’s showcase. After the commercial embarrassment of Another Love Song (pulled soon after release), tracks like Angel At My Table, the title track and the sublime Relevate. This is not the type of music you forget easily – the whispered lines on Relevate cling for hours afterwards and if you can imagine how some of these sound live… whoa. You’ll get far more than 45 minutes out of this; buy now before you die.