News

Reflecting The Rising

The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock will perform as part of RTE’s Reflecting The Rising concert, celebrating the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

The concert takes place on Easter Monday on Lower Fitzwilliam Street with The Spook onstage at 11am.

The set will include two new compositions written for the centenary “A Destroyer on the Liffey” and “The Bullet in the Brick”.

More details here.

Lockout at Quarter Block Party

The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock will perform “Lockout” at St. Peter’s Church in Cork on February 6th as part of the Quarter Block Party festival.

Quarter Block Party are delighted to bring “Lockout” to Cork for its second ever performance, and first in Cork. “Lockout” is a new large-scale work by The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock about the 1913 Lockout. For this project the band are joined by an electric guitar orchestra, bringing this unique sound into the world of contemporary Irish traditional music. “Lockout” is a grand departure for the band, bringing an epic volume and scale to their unique blend of contemporary and traditional sounds, and adding a sharper, more political voice which addresses the recent anniversary of the Lockout, and its relevance today.  On support is Cormac Dermody, Radie Peat (members of Lynched) and Brian Flanagan are a trio from Dublin that play traditional songs and tunes from both sides of the Atlantic. Murder ballads, barn-dances, whaling songs and old-time tunes are treated with considerable weight, with an emphasis on harmony and swelling, droning, chordal arrangements.

Tickets are €12.50 (inc booking fee) or €40 for Quarter Block Party weekend pass.

More info

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Lockout live review

State reviews the debut performance of ‘Lockout’:

The sound is glorious, rich, textured and mountain stream crystal clear…

Read more

Lockout - debut performance

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The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock & Electric Guitar Orchestra present “Lockout” Debut performance Saturday Nov 21st Hangar, Andrew’s Lane With very special guest Dónal Lunny Doors 7:30pm Performance starts 8pm

“Lockout” will be performed in full for the first time with a special show at Hangar, with 18 musicians in what promises to be a unique and powerful performance. The band are honoured to be joined by legendary traditional musician Dónal Lunny, a driving force behind Planxty and The Bothy Band.

“Lockout” is a new large-scale work by The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock about the 1913 Lockout. For this project the band are joined by an electric guitar orchestra, bringing this unique sound into the world of contemporary Irish traditional music. “Lockout” is a grand departure for the band, bringing an epic volume and scale to their unique blend of contemporary and traditional sounds, and adding a sharper, more political voice which addresses the recent anniversary of the Lockout, and its relevance today.

Tickets - €10 early bird / €15 plus booking fees available from www.tickets.ie

The Political Voice in Irish Music

The Spook performs “Lockout”/“A Mighty Wave” from the second live rehearsal of ‘Lockout’

Given the recent turmoil in Irish life you would think that artistic communities would be bursting at the seams with commentary, anger, disbelief, remorse, and whatever thoughts are required for us to circle round on ourselves and transcend the mess we are living in. But this is not the case in Irish music. Where is the anger? Where is the vitriol? Irish music in the charts is, for the most part, very polite and apolitical. The widespread endorsements for the recent, joyous victory for marriage equality were a notable exception, but in general, most our music now focuses more on the inner thoughts of the artist rather than expressing collective concerns.

However, this was not always the case. I love the iconic picture of Christy Moore being frisked by Special Branch in the 1980s . Christy and his cohorts Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine Irivine et al dove deep into the spirit of Irish folk music and married it with a sharp, modern wit. This picture shows Moore as the folk hero he is, pushing the boundaries of consensus and fighting for the very soul of the country.

Delving further back into history, we find many more examples of political music, in both Irish and English; James Connolly was a song writer, Éamonn Ceannt a piper. There is a rich tradition of political songs in English from the Nationalist and Unionist sides from the 1800’s onward.  Before this, poets and singers lamented the state of Ireland and the waning of the Gaelic language and culture through the Aisling poem and song.

Folk music, “the people’s music” as Pete Seeger called it, can be seen as old time sounds re-interpreted by the left, and country music the same for the right. Perhaps the act of folk revival is a reactionary one, that looks to an idealised past, but this history, this musical history, can also help us to frame our thinking about the present, and indeed the future.

Spook  Promo3

There is much wrong in modern Ireland and indeed, much wrong in the wider world? We are in ‘recovery’, like chronic gamblers back at the table with a new line of credit, facing another major property boom and bust amidst widespread and continuing corruption in the legal, political and financial professions. The current regime, much like the last, has an alarmingly high tolerance for this. Who is the blame? No one and everyone it seems. No one specific.  A man can go to jail for obstructing a water meter installation but it is community service for our white collar criminals. Now shut up and stop talking down our recovery for God’s sake! 

Perhaps our musical silence reflects the wider, national silence, but this cannot last. The deeply irrational, fundamentalist right wing ideology we’ve aligned ourselves with is crumbling, and the struggle in Greece shows this. We are in “a revolutionary moment” according to journalist Chris Hedges, disillusioned by the old and searching for a new ideology to make sense of the world.

The notion of the political song is changing too. Recently I read of Scott Walker’s thoughts on his song “Jesse” from the ground breaking album “The Drift”.  He sees this as an unconventional protest song, expressing the notion of “fascism in the air” in post 911 America. This is not a typical “come-all-ye” folk song, but the emotional impact of the song registers as modern protest nonetheless. History has most certainly not ended. Constance Marcievicz observed Jim Larkin as “a storm driven wave”, and perhaps in our unease we need a torrent of music and words to drive our thinking forward. As artists, perhaps it is time we step forward and deliver.

- Allen Blighe

(originally published in Hot Press, August 2015)

The Spook’s perform “Bloody Sunday (The Batons)” from the second live rehearsal of ‘Lockout’: