By Róisín Peddle
Last Tuesday evening, February 5, the best Irish venues were recognised at a ceremony at the Irish Music Rights Organisation HQ, Copyright House, in Dublin.
Hosted by 2FM DJ Paddy McKenna, the awards featured performances from Kodaline and Gavin James, as well as new Dublin electro group, I Am the Cosmos, and Donegal singer-songwriter, Evie Murtagh.
Speaking at the awards, IMRO Chairman and founding Moving Hearts member Keith Donald said that there were “five things that make a gig magic.”
As well as the performance, music, audience, technicians, Mr Donald said that the venue was a key aspect of a good concert.
“The venue is the foundation on which everything else is built.”
Whelan’s of Dublin were hugely successful on the night, scooping the best Dublin venue as well as the Hot Press Live Music Venue of the Year Award.
Speaking as he awarded the gong, which also saw Limerick’s Dolan’s and new Cork venue Coughlan’s highly commended, Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said, “Live music is more important than ever for musicians and bands – so it is crucial that they have the best possible venues to play in. The IMRO Live Music Venue Awards are a brilliant platform for recognising all of the good work that is happening all over Ireland in creating those opportunities for musicians.”
It was also a memorable night for Coughlan’s, which won the overall best venue award by public vote. It has been a whirlwind few years for the family-run bar, which only recently began hosting gigs and events in an intimate setting. The bar has already seen acts like Lisa Hannigan, Wallis Bird and O Emperor grace its stage.
The regional awards were awarded to diverse venues. Traditional icon Matt Molloy saw his pub, Matt Molloy’s of Westport, awarded the Connacht venue of the year, while the Mermaid Arts Centre in Wicklow won the Rest of Leinster Award. Crane Lane in Cork won for Munster, while the Ulster award went to An Grianán in Letterkenny.
Body and Soul won the small festival of the year award, while Electric Picnic took away the prize for overall festival of the year.
There were special presentations to Kodaline in recognition of their number one album, In A Perfect World, and to legendary Olympia barmaid, Maureen Grant.
The night also saw performances which reminded the audience of the impact of live music. At just sixteen, Evie Murtagh displayed the maturity and song-writing chops of a much older performer, keeping the audience spellbound with her impressive voice. “Too Young to Feel This Old” was a particular highlight.
I Am the Cosmos, fresh off the success of their debut album, Monochrome, proved that Irish music is not all soothing guitars. Their adventurous synth sound soon had the crowd in a trance, and the duo (with their session musicians) won new fans ahead of the Meteor Choice Awards at the end of the month. Their song “Look Me in the Eye” is on the shortlist.
Both Kodaline and Gavin James fans were in for a major treat. With excellent renditions of his hits “For You” and “Say Hello”, Gavin James hopped into the crowd and gave a beautiful rendition of the Ray Charles classic, “You Don’t Know Me”. He returned to the stage during always-excellent Kodaline’s barnstorming set and the former touring partners reunited to cover Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me”.
Despite the foul weather outside, the audience left smiling at the bright future of Irish live music.