- Ben Farr

Other Voices: Top 5 Performances

While for most towns around the country the first weekend of December means the start of the Christmas shopping season, for Dingle it means something else...

...Other Voices!

Started fifteen years ago as a television show record of music in the gorgeous St. Jame's Church on Main Street, Other Voices has grown into a massive celebration of music, with gigs, art shows, seminars and symposiums happening all over the town. It has welcomed the cream of alternative Irish and international recording artists over the years, all of whom have enjoyed wandering the streets of Dingle, mingling with the locals and of course the stunning harmonics of the church itself.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to attend many of the concerts that happen inside the church. First as a volunteer in the festival's embryonic days and then as one of the lucky few who managed to get a "golden ticket" to get inside the church, which only holds 80 people. Thanks to our friends at eir, this year's sponsors, I've been lucky enough to get a ticket for tonight's show to catch the awesome All Tvvins, among others. This got me thinking however about many of the superb gigs I have been fortunate enough to attend in the past. 

So here I present to you my Top 5 Other Voices Performances (the ones that I was lucky enough to attend that is - still ranging about Hozier!!) and I'm not even including watching Richard Hawley and Imelda May sing Christmas carols at 5 o'clock in the morning around the piano in Benner's!

5. The Frames

At the beginning Glen Hansard was synonymous with Other Voices. Not only did he present the show, he also performed one of Season 1's greatest sets. The Frames eclectic mix of soaring rock and falsetto anthems filled the church like no other. Glen has been back many times over the years, but this set for me really laid the foundations of what Other Voices was set to become.

4. Ben Howard

A bit of personal choice this one as the Devon based surfer is one of my favourites. Sat down with nothing but his guitar, Howard created an intense soundscape that full bands were unable to manage. One of my biggest regrets is that Howard was supposed to return a couple of years later with his full entourage, but was left stranded due to bad weather - what a gig that would have been.

3. Interference

Digging way back into the archives to Series 1, the performance of Irish band Interference was one of those seminal moments where you realised that the Other Voices concept was really onto something. This was the band's comeback gig, and what a comeback it was. Its with a heavy heart that I say that singer and songwriter Fergus O'Farrell sadly passed away earlier this year, but performances like this will live forever.

2. Elbow

Other Voices has the serendipitous habit of catching performers at the peak of their careers. Having just released the Mercury Award winning album 'The Seldom Seen Kid' the town of Dingle was so lucky to welcome Guy Garvey's Elbow that year. The intricate orchestral sounds suited St James Church down to the ground. This gig moved me so much we used the sublime Days Like This at our own wedding.

1. Amy Winehouse

There is simply no question that the pinnacle of all Other Voices performances was Amy Winehouse. The pint sized powerhouse was at the peak of her musical abilities and found a connection with the small venue like no other. Stripped down to just her soulful voice and an acoustic & bass guitarist, her vocal abilities were the star of the show and she had the whole audience in the palm of her hand. We all know the rest of Amy's story, so I won't get into that here, but I will always count myself as extremely grateful that I got to witness her genius in this intimate environment.

Enjoy the rest of the festival