WELCOME to the future, Northern Winders. The Year of our Lord 2022 has arrived and with it comes more questions than answers for the arts. In what is most likely the slowest week of the year, there has still been plenty of announcements and releases to keep the oil burning.
With nightclubs closed until January 9 and live events capped at 50 per cent in the South and restrictions in constant flux in the North, artists and industry have been left without clear paths for work or performance in the coming quarter. Instead of this, the Dáil has announced (too late for some) several supports for the live events industry. This includes €34 million for the Live Performance Support Scheme and €10 million for local artist authorities and venues to offset costs and support those affected by lockdown. Minister Catherine Martin released a statement that concluded with the following: “I am committed to supporting the live performance and nightclub sector as they journey through a difficult and unprecedented phase of business operations. I know it takes many weeks and months to programme shows and tours. I am very pleased to announce the rollout of these schemes which aim to be as flexible and responsive as possible.”
Time will tell how much water these words hold.
Meanwhile, artists have taken matters into their own hands. Gavin James did his best to push boundaries with a series of (unfortunately cancelled) drive-in concerts last summer. For the coming year, the James team has announced that they will be teaming with Mia Air, an Irish based air-filtration company that will supply a portable filtration system for his 13-date tour later in the year. As frustrating as it is to see the onus fall on to artists, we can only hope that this measure brings a new level of safety and assurance for the singer-songwriter’s performances.
James is not the only one with shows announced in the coming year. Fresh from her Academy headline in November, Gemma Dunleavy has announced a slot at the 3Olympia Theatre this coming April. The biggest headline yet for the Dublin producer/singer signifies a jump in popularity following her iconic EP and single ‘Up De Flats’.
Another Dublin favourite will also return this year, with news that The Eskies will make a return in mid-February. The folk-rockers went on indefinite hiatus several years back but will headline Whelans in the coming months. And finally, Galway band NewDad have fired on from a rousing 2021 into an already inspiring New Year. Alongside their biggest headline show to date (a sold-out date in Whelans) and a string of US shows later in the year, the quartet have shared details of an upcoming six-track EP and new song ‘Say It’. Commenting on the upcoming release, the band said: “‘Say It’ is about unrequited love, about when someone is with you but not really, it’s supposed to capture that frustration you feel when you’re giving someone your all and they’re giving you nothing in return. The fast pace of the song makes it feel like I’m venting which works considering the feelings of irritation and bitterness I’m talking about when you don’t want to like someone but you can’t help it.”
And while there have been no new releases in the last couple of weeks (never compete with Christmas, folks), there were several excellent new tracks to ring out the year. However, none grabbed my eye quite like wornoc’s Deep Within. A cinematic track that ebbs and flows through the realms of alternative, electronic and ambient pop, it put a bow on what was a strange yet positive year. Here's to a better one.