Cork Opera House in Spring

The Spring programme was unveiled yesterday evening in the same fun and entertaining way that the COH staff have set about launching the past few seasonal programmes. Choreographed dancers, popcorn, face-paint, pretzels, whip-wielding ringmasters topped off with a performance from the inimitable Camille O'Sullivan.

From comedy (Dara O’Briain, Gift Grub, Michael Winslow i.e. Motor Mouth Jones from Police Academy) and kids shows (Glee and Sesame Street - would it be wrong to turn up childless at the latter?) to theatre ('Let’s Talk About Sam' - a weekend long celebration of Samuel Beckett’s works, international smash Man 1, Bank 0 etc.) and, of course, opera (La Traviata, La Bohème and The Three Tenors) there is a wealth of diverse options for everyone to filter through.

Obviously the interest for this blog lies in the not so formal musical side of things. In the next three months I see the below as the top 5 must sees concerning international and local alternative musical talent on show in the Cork Opera House. Of course you might not agree but for what it is worth...

1. The Magnetic Fields
(Sunday, April 29th - €29)

I nearly moved out of Cork a few years back when Stephen Merritt's word-guzzling, heartstring-tugging Magnetic Fields were announced for Dublin only. Due to a personal commitment I couldn't make it to the capital so yes I admit it - I threw a great big wobbly. Strops are not a characteristic of mine but the same cannot be said for the excitement that exploded through my pores when I read the creators of i and 69 Love Songs were finally visiting us here on Leeside. Expect ukuleles, witty but dark lyrics and the odd blast of a synthesizer here and there. Potential for gig of the year.

2. Bonnie "Prince" Billy
(Wednesday, February 1st - €25)

Forever standing in the shadows but that is how Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, seems to like it. In the eighteen years since There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You with Palace Brothers, the "Prince" has released just as many studio albums including a collaboration with instrumental post-rock Chicagoans Tortoise, 2010's The Wonder Show of the World with The Cairo Gang and two of the greatest albums of all time in I See a Darkness and Master and Everyone. The dark, respectful arena that is the Opera House should provide the perfect setting for nearly two decades worth of Oldham tales.

3. Cork Rocks The House
(Saturday, April 21st - €TBC)

Local talent is the lifeblood of any live music scene and the main stage of the COH will provide nearly a dozen local acts with the opportunity to impress in a large arena. Cork's very own supergroup Slow Motion Heroes are set to release their first official single in the next couple of months after a couple of outstanding self-released EPs (Pop and Not Pop) in the Summer of 2011 set the bar particularly high. The David Nelligan Thing, Jodavino, Dimitry Datus and more will also showcase their abilities at the end of April.

4. Camille O'Sullivan
(Friday, February 24th - €20/€25/€30)

A tough one to put in a box but if you finally managed to do so she would escape - no doubts about that. O'Sullivan's mix of cabaret and burlesque theatrics coupled with her marvellous voice makes her the epitome of the word "entertainment". From Tom Waits and Nick Cave to Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, Camille has that ability to stamp any musical piece and make it her own.

"When she sings it's as though her breath is soaked in paraffin; one spark,
and the whole room would ignite"
Daily Telegraph

5. The Henry Girls
(Sunday, February 26th - €12)

Folk from the tiny village of Malin in the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal. They may only have started to pop up on radars recently but The Henry Girls released their fourth studio album - December Moon - in 2011 and have already collaborated with Irish trad royalty such as Donal Lunny, Mary Black, Liam O’Maonlai and Moya Brennan.

- The Cork Opera House Spring programme runs from February 1st to April 30th
- For more information see the official Cork Opera House website

Those five are pretty super. Still though...