30 May 2005

A great double-header down the local last night:

Jinx Lennon has to be seen to be believed. It's impossible to describe what this man does, and more so to someone not from this island. Let's just say that, though he plays guitar and sings songs he wrote himself, the label "singer-songwriter" hardly fits him. And though he also uses verse and spoken word, "poet" seems too heavy-handed a description. Sometimes "bingo caller for a new generation" might fit, but the important thing to remember with an artist like this is: once you've applied a label, the next time you look he will have shucked it off and moved on to something entirely different. Jinx Lennon's repertoire is what it is, entirely unique.

You really had to be there, then, to see him play - no doubt you'll get a chance again. By turns Lennon's stuff is funny, scary, bizarre, but most of the time absolutely spot-on. The planet is full of singer-songwriters whose chief ambition seems to be making the opposite sex feel sorry for them. Lennon, who comes from Dundalk, is actually using his talent for a very different purpose, one we're only beginning to glimpse. He writes about the real Ireland, the seamy side of things, life on the Louth/Armagh border, the FÁS instructor taking course participants out for a feed of drink, the view from Forkhill, how easy it is to get sucked into The Circle Of Shit. He gets a lady called Paula up to sing a few with him and their voices blend perfectly. There is nothing like this kind of music on the planet, and more people should hear it.

Things kind of went down a notch when he pulled out a keyboard and started doing stuff to programmed beats. Some of it worked, some of it needs work, but it's all part of the push towards Free State Nova I guess, and it actually got people up dancing, which is cool. It's hard to get your head around Lennon's music sometimes, but it's worth the effort; this stuff is entirely unique and You Couldn't Make It Up.

James Joyce, or at least Stephen Dedalus, spoke of how he wanted to "forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race". This may sound a bit much, but Jinx Lennon could well end up doing something similar.

The Ramonas then. What can you say? They're an all-girl Ramones tribute band, they look just like the brothers, erm, except they look prettier than the brothers. They obviously love the music and lash in to every tune with gusto, prefaced by the obligatory shout of ONE!TWO!THREE!FOUR from the bass guitarist. They sound brilliant. In an ideal world, they would be playing in your local every weekend.

Your calves sore from all that pogoing and bobbing on the balls of your feet, feeling fourteen years old, with a big grin on your face, some of the coolest popular songs ever written running through your head - why isn't going home from a gig always like that?

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