As Derry/Londonderry is the 2013 UK City of Culture, we thought it was fitting to make the trip north and find a venue with as much spirit and character as St. James' in Dingle.
We chose The Glassworks, a 170 year old Church in the heart of the city that hadn't seen action since the mid-70s. Coincidentally, the name of St. James also travels with us. The Glassworks was originally known as The Presbyterian Church at Great St. James St. It was also known as The Scot Church after Stewart Gordon the architect who designed it.
It has previously been used as a small venue for local events but Other Voices in February 2013 was the first time a television crew made its way inside the walls.
Other Voices is one of Ireland’s most unique music events. The annual gathering, which started in Dingle, has since it's inception in 2002 evolved to establish itself as a true 'one of a kind'. Now stretching along the Atlantic Way from West Kerry North to Derry, Other Voices attracts an expanding array of artists from across the musical spectrum to perform at this intimate musical event which is transmitted worldwide online and as a television series. Past performances include Ellie Goulding, Amy Winehouse, Elbow, The National, Damien Rice, Snowpatrol, Ryan Adams and many others.
SERIES 1-3 (2002 - 2004)
The very first Other Voices was recorded in St. James’ Church in Dingle in December 2002. Presented by Frames frontman GLEN HANSARD who has since gone on to become an Oscar winning songwriter. Other presenters were JERRY FISH and JOHN KELLY. Performances took place in St. James’ Church and featured over twenty artists including DAMIEN DEMPSEY, BELLX1, THE THRILLS, STEVE EARLE, OCEAN COLOUR SCENE, RODRIGO Y GABRIELA and CATHY DAVEY.
SERIES 4-5 (2005 - 2006)
In addition to St. James’ Church, the beautiful Dingle Peninsula provided the backdrop to Series 4 with magical impromptu acoustic performances from ELBOW, ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION, CERYS MATTHEWS, MARIZA, BELLX1 and JOSH RITTER.
In addition these two series saw the historic performance of RUFUS & MARTHA WAINWRIGHT together (over 10 million views on YouTube), DAMIEN RICE, LISA HANNIGAN, JOSH RITTER and AMY WINEHOUSE.
Amy landed in Dingle from London and gave one of her most emotional performances. This performance became the heart of BBCs Arena Documentary ‘AMY WINEHOUSE: THE DAY SHE CAME TO DINGLE’. It was the best singing of her career and was voted in the London Times’ top 25 greatest gigs of all time.
SERIES 6-7 (2007-2008)
Master of ceremonies since 2003 John Kelly was joined by BBC Radio1 DJ Annie Mac for series’ which saw the legendary producer and writer DANIEL LANOIS come to Dingle, an outstanding performance from GLEN HANSARD & MARKETA IRGLOVA just two months before their Oscar win, and electric performances from SINEAD O’CONNOR, BILLY BRAGG, IMELDA MAY, RICHARD HAWLEY, RYAN ADAMS plus a return visit from ELBOW.
Series 6 saw the introduction of the Other Room, which gives a platform to unsigned new acts. The IMRO Other Room has opened the door for now established artists VILLAGERS, HAM SANDWICH, JAMES VINCENT McMORROW & MICK FLANNERY
SERIES 8-9 (2009 - 2010)
With performances from SNOW PATROL, FLORENCE & THE MACHINE, TEMPER TRAP, JARVIS COCKER, ANNA CALVI, THE NATIONAL, THE XX, MARINA & THE DIAMONDS the demand on the 80 seater St. James’ Church was challenging.
In partnership with InTune Networks, Other Voices wired the town and transmitted these magical performances to venues throughout Dingle. This was a first... groundbreaking technology giving access to all.
SERIES 10 (2011)
Series 10 saw Aidan Gillen join the Other Voices Circus. A music trail was established, allowing Other Voices to give a platform for new and vital bands and artists to perform at the same event as their heroes and mentors. LITTLE GREEN CARS sang their hearts out. SBTRKT, THE FRAMES, ST VINCENT and WILD BEASTS shone.
Other Voices Dingle / Derry~Londonderry / London (2012-2013)
￼What started as a one-off music show in a Dingle church spawned an international music series. The filming of that series subsequently became a multi-faceted music and arts event. While the stellar quality of the music at Other Voices continues to reach ever higher levels, Other Voices is a constantly evolving and innovating force in the world of music events and cultural tourism, constantly exploring and experimenting multi-dimensionally across content programming, event formats and distribution channels. From the small town of Dingle on the west coast of Ireland Other Voices has now travelled north to Derry- Londonderry and east to London bringing with it an unparalleled musical, digital, technological experience to each city. Joining us on the journey were DAUGHTER, LAURA MVULA, LAURA MARLING, JOHN GRANT, MARINA & THE DIAMONDS, LITTLE GREEN CARS, VILLAGERS, NEIL HANNON, SAVAGES, BETH ORTON and many others.
Caspar Llewellyn Smith - The Observer, Sunday 17 February 2013
If the call had been made half an hour later, it might have been a very different story for the band Little Bear. The act scheduled to headline the third and final night of Other Voices in Derry/Londonderry last Sunday was Two Door Cinema Club – the hottest band to have come from Northern Ireland for some time. (Their recent album, Beacon, topped the Irish charts and went to No 2 in the UK.) But on Saturday afternoon they pulled out, with singer Alex Trimble citing a nasty case of laryngitis.
That day, Derry locals Little Bear – purveyors of emotionally literate rock – were finishing a fringe gig in the minuscule church of St Augustine on the city's ancient walls. Then they retired to the pub to toast what felt like a triumphant show long into the night. When the organisers rang, asking them to step up for the big gig the following evening, the barman was ordered to stop serving the Guinness mid-pint and taxis were ordered so the boys could be put to bed post haste for what could prove to be their biggest break ever.
Other Voices normally takes place in Dingle on the west coast of Ireland. Acts including the late Amy Winehouse have headed there for more than a decade to perform to 70-odd souls in a church – with everything then turned into an Irish TV show. (Or, latterly, a live stream on guardian.co.uk.) But it shifted last weekend to celebrate Derry's status as the first UK city of culture, taking up residency in the Glassworks, a former church with a capacity to hold a couple of hundred people, for three nights.
Appropriately, a Derry native who had also played in Dingle in December opened proceedings, the 16-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, who has already been the subject of a major label bidding war. It was easy to hear why: her songs are startlingly mature and arrestingly tender.
SOAK is too young to have had direct experience of the Troubles, ("It didn't look fun," she told the Observer in January),but the same couldn't be said of Neil Hannon, who finished the evening with the jaunty likes of National Express and other Divine Comedy staples such as At the Indie Disco. But not before the city's prodigal son had played Sunrise, the story of how he fled Derry, asking: "Who cares what name you call a town?" It felt as touching a way of addressing the past as it was necessary, and pointed to the brighter future that the festival and wider celebrations have set out to foster.
In between came two contrasting acts, intense Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey and Savages. The latter's pummelling post-punk answered in the affirmative one other question: would just this sort of act succeed in Derry, as in Dingle, because of the contrast between the intimacy of the surroundings and their noisenik shtick?
The second evening saw Little Green Cars, who are increasingly threatening to turn into an Irish version of Band of Horses; Bronagh Gallagher, who might be most familiar to English audiences as Bernie in Alan Parker's film The Commitments, and who sang with all the soul of the Derry girl she is; Jesca Hoop; and Marina and the Diamonds. The latter dazzled without necessarily convincing (songs such as Hollywood sounded a bit too pleased with themselves in this context).
The final night – discounting the pub sessions and other gigs elsewhere throughout the weekend – brought the turn of James Yorkston and the hugely promising Daughter the hugely promising Daughter (who make palatable the phrase "a bit like a folky version of the xx"). Beth Orton captivated at the top of the bill with the evergreen She Cries Your Name. But coming in at the bottom were Little Bear. And they were excellent.
One could be forgiven for being initially taken aback when they see a seemingly weary Beth Orton performing with her fellow singer-guitarist - and now husband - Sam Amidon in a very country and western manner. It, and most of the songs we will hear in this setlist, including the William Blake-inspired "Poison Tree" seem alien to those of us who were raised on the Trailer Parks, Central Reservations and Daybreakers of this world.
But really, Orton has just honed and toned down her style to remain in context with the times. What we hear from her tonight is as much of a "regeneration" project for her as Neil Hannon's similarly titled album of 2001 was - for all the differing instrumentals back then, Hannon's wit and drive remained intact. As do Orton's vocals and songwriting skills. Artists never really surrender the essence of who they are, and as the set goes along, one slowly but surely realises this. A song like "Mystery" for example, would feel quite at home in the pre-Comfort Of Strangers era, and the speedy enunciation and effective projection of "Dawn Chorus" is an example of Orton at her very best. The uncertain transitional phase she seemed in when she released Comfort Of Strangers (it was six years before she released another album) seems a thing of the past. Maybe, as she says during the set, Amidon has been the "brain" she has needed to calm her nerves and get her back on track?
Amidon's cover of "The Streets Of Derry" is a little disappointing, paling in comparison to - in my opinion - Cara Dillon's definitive version of said song, but it's the only false note of sorts in an otherwise fine set that concludes with a mature performance of the Trailer Park classic "She Cries Your Name". Perhaps, with everyone about to bid farewell to Derry, "Thinking About Tomorrow" might have been more apt, but she's chosen a good tune to finish on nonetheless.