Best of 2012: w/ Nathan Conway of Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012’, ‘favourite song of 2012’ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Without further ado, here’s Nathan Conway of Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band, and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Angel Olsen – ‘Half Way Home’

Bob Dylan’s voice, phrasing and delivery peaked on Tempest this year but his band were so full of tired moves that they killed off the atmosphere. And so, apart from my own Sonny Boy record, this year I find only one album worth attention. Half Way Home by Angel Olsen, her first full album. Last year when I heard her song ‘If it’s alive, it will’, I wrote to her record company to try and get her to sing on a song I was recording. I was turned down in favour of her going on tour with Will Oldham. To this day I can’t imagine why? I’ve no chance now.

I had first thought there was something French about her songs and later that she wouldn’t be out of place in Os Mutantes. It could be that the music here doesn’t conform. It has an international sound. Although she’s got a lot of style, her songs are unaffected by it. It’s all very natural. There’s a real patient, calm, learned hand in getting the sound settled for this record too. Its got the type of hofner bass sound that I love the most and shes the best singer around.

Favourite song of 2012: Django Django – ‘Storm’

My sister put me onto Django Django. I’m not gone on them. Everything I heard when I checked them out was this very contrived 80’s thing, but their song, ‘Storm’, is a cracker. Although they appear to be carefully cultivating the image of the nerd, there’s a rawness to the sound and a laziness to the lyric of this one that frees it up from all that and sets it apart from their other work. For a moment here they become a more dangerous breed of nerd like that French writer Michel Houellebecq. I would imagine this was a throwaway song that came to life in the recording because everything hinges on the rattley sound achieved here.

Favourite Irish song of 2012: The Brand New Switcheroo – ‘Diane’

Music in Ireland seems to be sinking ever further into the quagmire. The music makers are all still there alright, their voices drowned in the ceaseless tide of shite bands. Now and again I get lucky and hear something outside of the classical oeuvre that restores my faith and joy in music.

The Brand New Switcheroo are brothers and they are both really good writers. Because of the close tone of voice, brothers and sisters can’t be beat for harmony singing. So far as I know this song, ‘Diane’, hasn’t been recorded, so this rough you-tube thing is the best example I can find. It sounds simple but to whittle a song down to this kind of simplicity and clarity takes a lot of ability and confidence in ones work. There’s a ‘walking on the sand’ image here that pervades in the lyric and the whole song has a whoozy wash and eddy thing going on.

Best of 2012: w/ Sadhbh O’ Sullivan of Sive

Sive

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, over to Sadhbh O’ Sullivan from Sive and her picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite album of 2012: Sam Jackson – ‘Sharp and Flat’

I stumbled upon Sam Jackson by accident when I read a review of his album in the Independent and thought “hmm, this sounds like it might be up my street!” I took a trip over to his Bandcamp page and within the first few seconds of the opening track I was already compelled to buy the album (AND a ticket to one of his shows). Every track displays not only a top notch level of musicianship, but also a lofty helping of sensitivity and imagination. His sound is reminiscent of jazz, classical and some more contemporary music, without sounding like it quite fits in under any one label. For me this album is a perfect work of art!

Favourite Song of 2012: The Unusual History of Ether – ‘Innate’

I’m not entirely sure whether this song actually came out in 2012 or at the end of 2011, but I discovered it at the beginning of this year and was blown away by it. The band is fronted by Irishwoman Rebecca Collins, who is based in Copenhagen along with her band of Danish musicians. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live twice and they’re a lovely bunch of people as well as fine musicians. Their whole EP is worth repeated listens.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: Wallis Bird – ‘In Dictum’

This was one of the stand-out tracks from Wallis Bird’s latest album, for me anyway. The first time I heard it was at her album launch in The Academy when she hopped down from the stage to perform an unplugged rendition of it in the middle of the audience. The entire crowd joined in and it was definitely one of those gig memories that sticks with you for a long time. When played live this song carries bags of energy and passion that can’t have been easy to capture in a studio, but I think Wallis and her band nailed it. Here’s a video of what happened that night in The Academy:  

BarryGruff Presents #11: The P Affection, The Depravations & Appo :: Flanagan’s Bar, Newbridge :: Saturday :: Dec 15th

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All aboard for 11th and final BarryGruff Presents show (of this year) in Newbridge!

‘BarryGruff Presents’ returns to Flanagan’s Bar, for a very special Christmas show on Saturday, December 15th. It’s going to be a fantastic night of live music, as usual, w/ The P Affection, The Depravations & special guest, Appo.

The P Affection is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Padraig McCauley. The Naas based band’s self-titled debut was released to rave reviews and followed by Cakes For Occasions earlier in the year, has exceeded even their lofty expectations. They have grown as a band, their sound even tighter; a wondrous blend of indie-pop, rock, ska, and folk is formed into a distinct and cohesive sound, all of their own. The Depravations are Galway four-piece indie-folk band who take their influences from a combination of ’50s and ’60s surf music, old country and blues. With a couple of excellent EP’s filled with music of rich sounds, stories and harmonies; they are one of the West of Ireland’s hidden treasures and certainly not to be missed on their first appearance in Newbridge.
Meanwhile support comes from special guest, Newbridge’s very own, Appo. Always a scintillating live performer, the gravelly voiced troubadour’s blend of folk and blues is powerful, captivating and delivered with some gusto.This will be the last ‘BarryGruff Presents’ of the year, so let’s send of 2012 with a bang!

Entry is FREE as always and the show starts at 9.00pm in Flanagan’s, Newbridge on Saturday, December 15th. [Facebook event]

 

Best of 2012: w/ Ciaran Dwyer of Knoxville Morning

CiaranDwyer

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, over to Ciaran Dwyer from Knoxville Morning + 1/3 and his picks from 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Father John Misty – ‘Fear Fun’

One of my favourite albums of the last few years actually. Joshua Tillman used to be in a pretty boring Folk band called Fleet Foxes, luckily for us he left and went and made this incredible album. Lyrically it is such a joy. It is funny as fuck, but not in a joke song kind of way. Humour is a really hard thing to pull off in a song and when Its done well It sounds like this. Its always good to have music in your life that makes you smile and gives you a good buzz, this is music like that. His vocal on the album is just incredible too. I’d say Gram Parsons would love this shit.

Favourite Song of 2012: Mumblin Deaf Ro – ‘Cade Calf Call’

Again, Easy to pick. I get shivers down my back listening to this song every time. The lyrics in this song are pure poetry (“Feeling a kiss of the mother I miss, a love that’s now in exile”). ‘A Cade Calf’ is a calf that has been abandoned by Its mother and this song refers to the loss of the writers own mother. It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Ronan Hession is a ‘National Treasure’ of a songwriter.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: Anderson – ‘History’

Another honest, simple and beautiful song and another from an Irish songwriter. Daniel Anderson, in my opinion is firstly a poet, secondly a musician (a very good musician at that, he plays on everything here). Inspired by our literary greats his songs take the shape of poems and whether they are set to the background of a Rock band like his first band The Rags or here in the shape of a beautiful piano balled, the passion and sincerity is always there, and is a trademark of Daniels work. “History” is a Gorgeous song which longs for the yesteryear and calls for us to take stock of what is actually important in life and not to be getting bogged down in the hustle that is society today. Also a mention must be made for the incredible video that accompanies this song. I for one am very excited to see what Daniel does next.

Best of 2012: w/ Imploded View

imploded view

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Enough chat from me, here’s Jerome aka Imploded View and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Best album of 2012: Nathan Fake – ‘Steam Days’

Beneath the bubbling and crackling yet driving percussion sounds, lie understated warbling synth melodies which are dripping with nostalgia and melancholy. Detuned analogue sounding leads which I love make this an album which nothing else quite matched in 2012.

Best song of 2012: Burial – ‘Kindred’ (from Kindred EP)

I’m a sucker for anything that sounds current, yet sounds like it’s spent decades buried under the earth. Wonderful textures, driven by a swinging rim shot heavy beat which works very well. Dark and moody, this track features a laid back vocal sample which helps everything meld. One of the more unique tracks around and clocking in at over 11 minutes, it makes for a great listen.

Best Irish song of 2012: Monto – ‘Homage’ (From Best Boy EP)

This is a great track by Wicklow’s Monto (aka Ross O’ Sullivan). A sidechain heavy track, laid back, with a loungey eastern flavour, it features a host of sounds and crackles which really add to the overall texture. Really chilled out and lovely. Taken from the Best Boy EP, which is also recommended.

Best of 2012: w/ Stephen Connelly of Sea Area Forecast

Stevie Sea Area

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, over to Stephen Connelly from Sea Area Forecast (and Knoxville Morning + 1/3 BarryGruff Presents team) and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Ty Segall – ‘Twins’

Definitely my highlight of the three albums he released this year. The opening tracks ‘Thank God For The Sinners’ straight into ‘You’re The Doctor’ will blow the head off you. Packed with DIY garage rock madness, the guitars sound like pure dirt which is definitely a good thing.

Favourite Irish Album of 2012: Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – ‘Sonny Boy’

One of the best records I’ve heard. A perfect combination of country, soul and swinging 50’s guitar riffs all topped off with Conway’s unique vocals and lyrics. Each song, an epic story filled with characters doomed with the burdens of being human. I love every second of this record.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: The Mighty Stef – ‘If You Can’t Give Me Everything’

A tribute to Greg Cartwright, released as part of the Bad Bad Men split EP with the Cheap Freaks. May not have been written this year but The Mighty Stef does a cracking version of this Reigning Sound favorite. Doing what The Mighty does best, his re-imagined rendition is even bigger with extra heartbreak. A beautiful take on a perfect song.

Best of 2012: w/ Colm from Ghost Estates

ghost estates

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, here’s Colm from Ghost Estates and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Tame Impala – ‘Lonerism’

Favourite album of the year has to be Tame Impala’s second album Lonerisim. It’s a fantastic album, and betters their first one by a mile. As a band they just keep getting better and better. When are they gonna come here to Ireland!! Songs like ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ or ‘It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ are just so ridiculously good. It took me a few listens to get into it, but once your hooked that’s it. Start to finish its just full on madness. So many things going on.Loads of noises to get lost in.


Favourite Song of 2012: Dirty Projectors – ‘The Gun Has No Trigger’

This was a hard one to answer. There has been so many brilliant songs over the last year, but I went for this. Its not a ‘catchy’ tune with a huge chorus or anything like that. It is just real simple song that sticks in your head. Before I heard this song I didn’t know much about Dirty Projectors. Straight away after hearing it, I went and got their new album, ‘Swing Lo Magellan’,which is also a real strong contender for album of the year. I’m in love with this band now as a result. Start to finish it is a winner. It’s so subtle. The intro gets your attention straight away with this really tight drum beat and deep bass. The vocals just start in and your just going to yourself, “Who is this…??”. Dave Longsmith voice gets more and more emotional as he goes on. When all 3 vocals harmonise they just create this huge sound. There is nothing else that sounds like this band at the moment.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: Sea Pinks – ‘Lake Superior’

I only recently got into this band through a friend. It has only been a few weeks since I got their album Freak Waves. But this song as a result has been on non stop in my gaff. Wake up in the morning and put this tune on and everything is all good. It just sticks in your head. Really buzzy and catchy. I don’t know anyone who could not like this song.There has been many great Irish songs and albums this year. But at the moment this one really sticks out for me.

Gross Relations – ‘Gross Relations’

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Gross Relations have impressed over the last 18 months or so, gracing us with a couple of quality singles and EPs. It’s fair to say news that the band released their debut LP back in October came as quite a surprise. It just slipped well and truly under the radar (well mine anyway!). 

Their self-titled debut sees a continuation of the Brooklyn band’s signature style set out in their preceding EP’s; lo-fi indie with thick chucks of beyond catchy pop melodies. The whole record, from start to finish, is bristling with energy, drenched in a sea of fuzz and catchy hooks. Slightly late to the party on this one, but hey, better late than never? A cracking album all end up!

You can download the whole album for free from bandamp now. What’s the world coming to when you get something as sweet as this for free?

Best of 2012: w/ Padraig, Colm & Dean from The P Affection

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Enough chat from me, here’s the lads from The P Affection and their picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite album of the 2012: Tennis – Young & Old

I have been crazy about Tennis since I heard Cape Dory (The fact that Alaina Moore is cute is a plus too!). Young & Old sees the gang groove a little more. Bit disappointed ‘Deep In The Woods’ wasn’t featured on the album but it really does hold its own as a collection of songs as is. Its exciting to see the band develop so much from the first album and I hope they keep things fresh for their followup. My favourite track is probably ‘Origins’. It’s the kind of track you could have as a wedding dance or play at a funeral, one of those tracks that captures the perfect melody/harmony balance too, and brings so much emotion out! (Padraig)

Favorite Song of 2012: The Cribs – ‘Chi-Town’

2008 saw the beginning of my love affair with The Cribs. I had swapped iPods with one of the lads and the rest is history!. Like most Cribs tracks, ‘Chi-Town’ is punchy, quick and full of hooks that just make it catchy as fuck! I was blown away the first time I heard it and every time since I can’t help but tap along. This track is full of that Jarman brother charm that give it serious re-listen-ability, Hook central. (Colm)

Favourite Irish album of 2012: Funeral Suits – Lily Of The Land

Mad about Funeral Suits. This is a deadly album! I had heard them first, back in the day, when they supported The Breeders in Vicar Street. The standout tracks are probably ‘Colour Fade’ and ‘All Those Friendly People’. Savage live show too! (Dean)

Best of 2012: w/ Mick Power from The Violet Roadkills

The Violet Roadkills

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012’, ‘favourite song of 2012’ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Without further waffle from me, here’s  Mick Power from The Violet Roadkills and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Air – Le Voyage dans la Lune, Bat for Lashes – Haunted Man

I started writing about Bat For Lashes then looked through some lists to see if I’d forgot anything and saw Air, I can’t choose between them, they’re both just gorgeous albums. Air’s Le Voyage dans la Lune is only a half hour soundtrack but has more ideas going on than anything else this year. Orchestral, electronic, melody upon counter melody, but nothing in the way of anything else, it all syncs beautifully. Each track works into the next, throw yer wan from Beach House on as well its a joy.

Bat for Lashes just getting better with every album and Haunted Man is stunning. That voice of god thing, she’d be up there with Liz Fraser, Aretha Franklin for the soul they put into it. I never go deciphering lyrics or anything but from the feel of this, it is like she poured her heart out on this album, really emotional stuff and it gets you. I can’t come up with any more words for beautiful but that’s what it is. Honourable mentions to Grizzly Bear, Richard Hawley, First Aid Kit, Django Django, Tame Impala, Mark Lanegan, Grimes, Purity Ring, Walkmen, Father John Misty & Santigold.

Favourite song of 2012: Dr John – ‘Revolution’

Favourite song is too hard! I’ll go with this to have something different from the best album stuff. Always loved Dr John, some voices just command attention, Gil Scott Heron, Mark Lanegan, it is like what you imagine Gods voice would be like. Dr John is one of them. Teaming him up with Dan Auerbach worked great, it is polished but leaves some of the dirt on top, the arrangements are fantastic, still keeps his brassy New Orleans thing in but beefs it up with a heavier blues rock style. Funky can be a horrible word, I just imagine hours of slap bass awfulness but this is one of them, old tight but loose chestnuts, and yeah funky, but in the best way possible.

Favourite Irish song (and album) of 2012: Spook of the 13th Lock – ‘The Brutal Here & Now’

‘The Brutal Here & Now’ is the song that got me into the Spook of the 13th Lock‘s great album. It has the Irish trad thing in it but above all else its just a great catchy song, great hooks and melodies over a pulsing rhythm. Its anthemic by the end. Great players. Honourable mentions to Mumblin Deaf Ro, Logikparty, Cast of Cheers, Katie Kim & Ghost Estates.

Best of 2012: w/ Cormac Brady (DJ/SEBP)

Co Brady

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012’, ‘favourite song of 2012’ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Enough chat from me, here’s Cormac Brady (SEBP/DJ extraordinaire) and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Album of the year: El-P – ‘Cancer for Cure’

Cancer for Cure is an intense piece of work, dealing with paranoia, escapism through substance abuse, loss, and ultimately the idea that we, society, are the world’s greatest problem. That’s not to say it’s un-listenable though. This album is a beast, it has enough venom and satire to tackle the subject matter in a manner that leaves you revitalized – this is a fight record, not a whinge. The lyrical delivery is sharp, aggressive and unapologetic, featuring a rake of top emcees that move comfortably within the boundaries of El-P’s dystopia. Killer Mike and Despot weigh in on Tougher Colder Killer, while Danny Brown and Mr Muthafuckin’ eXquire feature on ‘Oh Hail No’, a cleverly titled ode to telling religion and blind allegiance where to shove it – “I’ve been told I was put here to fail, never ask me to hail”

El-P’s skills as a producer take on a new edge with each album he releases, Cancer for Cure hits hard, hi hats rattle in the background as bombastic hits rupture the abrasive synthlines. It’s the type of album you want to play loud as fuck and shove in people’s faces. I can’t write about this album without also mentioning R.A.P Music by Killer Mike. Another incredible album produced by El-P, reminiscent of Bomb Squad and confirming that Killer Mike is the best emcee in hip hop right now. Check it out. Anyway, the reason I picked C4C as my album of the year is because I’ve listened to it the most. Bam.

Favourite song of 2012: Baauer – Harlem Shake

I didn’t pick this tune on the basis of its poetic endeavor  I could probably re-evaluate my decision here and pick another tune for very different reasons, but I won’t. Times are hard, we all need to lighten the fuck up and party more, this tune sound-tracked some great nights for me this year, so why not pick it? Throw it on loud and jump around with your mates before they all emigrate.

Favourite Irish song of 2012: Knoxville Morning – ‘Lighthouse Song’

The tune I’ve picked here is by my mate Ciaran, released under his Knoxville Morning project. It was the highlight of that record for me. It’s a heartwarming tune sang in an honest way and it speaks of a sanctuary from the madness that we all need.

Telling It As It Is | An Interview With Lethal Dialect

The new issue of Lookleft has hit the shelves across Ireland this week. Here is an interview with Lethal Dialect from the previous issue. Lookleft is available in every Easons north / south & other selected retailers.

*At the time of writing LD was working on new album ‘Magnum Opus’, this has since changed & he is working on a different record, ‘1988’. Explained better here.

LD

Over the past 18 months Dublin rapper Lethal Dialect (LD) has emerged as, not only on of the most exciting acts in Irish hip hop, but Irish music in general. Taking time out from recording his third album, LD caught up with Lookleft.

Growing up surrounded by house and dance music, hip hop became his true musical love. For LD the attraction to Hip Hop was the social commentary, “I know it sounds clichéd to mention but 2Pacs ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’ was definitely an influence. It’s not just relative to African American communities but ours as well. It’s the only music form I could ever really relate to. It’s the only form that has a lot of lyricism involved, unlike other music; it’s more about what you’re saying.”

A deep thinker for as long as he can remember, he always found the need to express himself and hip hop was a natural choice. It is the attitude which shapes and informs his own musical style, concerning himself with the everyday things, good and bad, that he sees around him. Although he is keen to stress “It’s not just about talking about how you feel or what you see, it’s easy to do that. It’s about saying things in a creative or slick way with wordplay or a clever twist that’s the challenge.”

It’s an attitude and approach which has in time won over many music fans as he explains, “The first album was an underground album with a lot of dark undertones so I wasn’t expecting much but it put the name in a few heads.” With the second album the reception was much different. “It’s been received very well.  I couldn’t shout out everyone who helped promote because I’d be here all day but it’s gotten radio play, it’s been in nearly every Irish newspaper and a few things on television. “

LD believes hip hop in this country may finally beginning to get the recognition it deserves but also feels some of this attention may be misplaced, as both good and bad acts receive the limelight. “I think they are exploiting many of the jokers or novelty acts by focusing a light on them while the likes of Scary Éire or RíRá never got the media recognition they deserve.”

With a certain level of derision when it comes to the genre, is there an attempt to undermine hip hop as happened in the US and UK? LD believes there is a certain amount of conspiracy, “anytime I have been on anything to do with the mainstream media there has been an undercurrent of taking the piss out of it but what do you do? You can either be on mainstream media and have your name out there or ignore it and your name won’t be out there. I think it’s about finding a balance.”

This is not the only prejudice he’s experienced while trying to get his music heard. “I have noticed a lot of classism for example, especially with things on RTE. There’s definitely a lot of classism there that they need to be look at themselves. I’ve noticed a lot of it lately in Irish society in general, I suppose I never really noticed it before until I started to get out there and do different things. I don’t think it should matter. “

In spite of these obstacles the future looks bright for Lethal Dialect and he’s very upbeat about the new album. “When the third album Magnum Opus drops, that will be the pinnacle of what we’re gonna do at a street level and then hopefully do a proper studio album.” It like previous releases is “100% DIY or homemade” and “100% percent original beats and lyrics” and while still dealing with serious subjects “it’s much more upbeat and lyrical” than previous releases.

You can download both LD50 & LD50 Part II for free from http://lethaldialect.bandcamp.com/. Lethal Dialect plays The Workman’s this Sunday, with both albums ‘played in full’ for the last time (details here).