Arts Column with Conor Malone

Arts Column with Conor Malone
This week’s highlights. The Balor, Ballybofey is in full on panto mode. You can catch Sinbad the Sailor there until Friday, December 6. Tonight (Thursday) is the last night of Bugsy Malone at The Alley, Strabane.

This week’s highlights. The Balor, Ballybofey is in full on panto mode. You can catch Sinbad the Sailor there until Friday, December 6. Tonight (Thursday) is the last night of Bugsy Malone at The Alley, Strabane.

Russian classical pianist Nikolay Khozyainov plays The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny on Friday. Also on Friday, there’s drama with Crows On The Wire at An Grianan, Letterkenny, The Caucasian Chalk Circle at The Alley, Strabane and Maire - A Woman Of Derry at The Millennium Forum, Derry. And The Forum’s panto, Peter Pan, gets underway this week with a monster of a run from Friday, November 29 to January 5.

Comedian David O Doherty is at The Alley, Strabane on Saturday while Alan Davies from QI is at The Millennium Forum in Derry. Also on Saturday, singer Michael English is at An Grianan, Letterkenny.

Conal Gallen’s A Bit On The Side comes to The Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon on Sunday. David Gray plays An Grianan, Letterkenny on Monday and you can get in the festive spirit with Christmas Unwrapped with The Ulster Orchestra at The Alley, Strabane on Wednesday.

David Gray

The big music gig in Donegal this week is undoubtedly David Gray at An Grianan. Some weeks ago David announced on his website and social media that he was going to undertake a small venue Irish tour and invited fans to register for tickets via the website and vote as to where he should play. An Grianan got it’s social media mojo working and is one of the 9nine Irish gigs he’ll be doing in Ireland this December.

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I’m not a fan of the whole online polling concept – I hate online polls with a passion. Having said that, this was a marketing masterstroke by David Gray and his people. Think about it, nearly every venue in the country exhorted their patrons to log on to David’s website and vote. So, without any advertising, anybody interested in music knew that David Gray was touring. Then, everybody went on to the website to vote and register their interest in buying tickets. So, that was the market research taken care of – they could see where the most interest was and where the gigs would work best – and knew they had the tickets sold before they announced the gigs. And they now have an up to date database of all the people that are fans of David Gray to direct market future tours. Genius really.

But, just to reiterate, I do hate online polls. I mean when you’re being asked to vote online for the best toilets at a festival award it’s getting a bit much no? I blame X-factor. For everything. Including the bank bailout. Possibly.

I do like David Gray though. He was absolutely huge in Ireland for a period around the turn of the century. That makes it sound like a hundred years ago with a gramophone and gaslamps doesn’t it? There was a time, 10 to 15 years ago, that I think anybody hosting a house party was contractually obliged to play White Ladder between the hours of 2 and 4am. If you were going through your house party phase back then, David Gray’s music probably forms an indelible part of the soundtrack of your life.

David Gray plays An Grianan, Letterkenny next Monday, December 2. As far as I know tickets are only available to those who registered their interest and voted on the website. However, keep your eyes and ears open to see if any come available in the run up to the gig.

Josh Ritter Acoustic Trio

The other A-list gig on the horizon in Donegal is Josh Ritter who plays The Balor, Ballybofey on Sunday, December 15.

The Idaho born singer-songwriter is phenomenally popular in Ireland . Following on from his full band electric tour in the summer which saw him play on the undercard of the Bruce Springsteen gig, his December tour is a more stripped down, laid back acoustic trio which promises to be simply wonderful.