A whole lotta pop culture to celebrate in 2017

This year sees a slew of films reaching milestone birthdays. Aoife Loughnane revisits two and wonders why pop cultural icons are worth celebrating?

Judging the politics of awards shows

 With award season upon us and some controversy about political speeches, Eimear Dodd suggests that award shows might provide a platform to start a wider conversation.

A Break From The City: The Philippines

By Kieva McLaughlin

Despite being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, the Philippines is only recently starting to attract tourists. If you are one of the soon to be visitors to this Asian paradise, read on to get tips and guidance on your route, travel options and the top activities to do while you are there.


Manila, the capital, is the easiest place to fly into internationally. One or two days is more than enough time to spend here if you are short on time. Although it does not boast the picturesque scenes you will find on the islands, the shopping is fantastic.

The Philippines has four of the ten biggest shopping centres in the world, with the third and fourth biggest located in Manila. If you are interested in getting really good designer fakes, Greenhills Shopping Centre is the place to go. Those good at haggling will get some great bargains here.


After a couple of days in Manila I would suggest flying into Boracay. If you fly into Kalibo, the flight will be extremely cheap but you will have to drive a couple of hours to get to Boracay. Ariel’s Point tour is a must when you are here.

(Source: Kieva McLaughlin)

You will spend the day making friends, snorkelling, cliff jumping, and kayaking, with all you can eat food and all you can handle drink.

If you aren’t on a budget I would recommend staying in Azalea Hotels and Residences Boracay. The hotel’s rooms and facilities are impeccable and the staff are very accommodating and friendly. The food in the Philippines is not the best as a whole, but Boracay has a lot of beach restaurants and Spiderhouse’s view is amazing if you go at sunset. The nightlife in Boracay is very lively, so if you are into beach bars and cocktails, this is the place to go.


I flew into Cebu from Kalibo, again the flight is very cheap so is definitely worth it. The three places I would aim to go in Cebu are; Moalboal, Bohol, and Oslob. Moalboal is very quiet at night but the day time is all about scuba diving and snorkeling, if you are into that it is definitely not one to miss, with some of the best dive sites in the whole country. While you are there I would recommend taking a trip to Kawasan Falls, it’s a little hike to a waterfall in a small rainforest.

(Source: Kieva McLaughlin)

Oslob is good for one thing – swimming with the whale sharks. This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I would strongly recommend doing it. Drive down from Moalboal the night before and get up really early to be there for the whale sharks early feeding. I would recommend staying in Casa Solmar Oslob, there’s not much accommodation nearby but the owners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They will organise everything for you including a boat to Bohol the next morning because there are no commercial ferries.

Bohol is where a lot of the activities are situated. You can rent a car with a driver for the day who will bring you around to all the best activities. I would suggest ATVing around the chocolate hills, zip-lining, visiting the tarsier monkeys, and lunch on the Loboc river.

El Nido

The last place I visited was El Nido. Again, I flew straight to El Nido but this can be a quite expensive trip. Alternatively you can get a cheaper flight into Puerto Princesa, and get a six hour bus up to El Nido.

(Source: Kieva McLaughlin)

There are four tours in El Nido- A, B, C, and D. I would recommend doing tours A and C, you spend the day snorkelling and kayaking in loads of amazing islands, beaches, and lagoons.

Dining in El Nido is a bit better than elsewhere in the Philippines, including an amazing Italian restaurant called Altrove that does homemade pasta and pizza. Artcafe is also worth a try.

All of the beaches in El Nido are amazing but I would strongly suggest visiting Nacpan and Calitang Beach if you have time.


I did not visit here myself but if you have time left over after El Nido you can always take a boat up to Coron for a few days. It has some of the best wreck diving in the world.

Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour Wows Dublin

By Kieva McLaughlin

Justin Bieber brought his Purpose World Tour to the 3 Arena on the 1st and 2nd of November.  It was his first time touring since 2012-2013 with his Believe Tour.  Both dates sold out within minutes with overwhelming demand from fans across Ireland.

Source – Wikimedia

The tour has previously made headlines when the ‘What Do You Mean’ singer was perceived as being bratty and stroppy.  During his Manchester gig he stormed off stage after his fans wouldn’t stop screaming while he was talking.

Justin began his Dublin concert while donning an Irish flag on the front of his t-shirt, with ‘Dublin’ written on the back.  He appeared in a glass box with a very energetic, heavily choreographed ‘Where Are U Now’.

Over the course of the concert Justin began to lose some energy, which can be forgiven because of his elaborate dances that would be sure to take it out of anyone.  Justin’s back up dancers were superb and gave it their all throughout the whole show.  Lasers, lights, and pyrotechnics accompanied almost every song.

Justin showcased his natural ability to sing when he took to stage, with just himself a couch and a guitar.  He sat down with the effects stripped back and played ‘Cold Water’ and ‘Love Yourself’. The 22- year old singer was apparently eager to show off his instrumental skills, and later in the show he played a surprisingly good solo on the drums.

Source – Wikipedia

Justin began most of his songs with a quick-witted intro. For his song ‘Company’, the singer began by telling his fans, “Imagine being on the road for a year, away from friends, away from family.” He then thanked his fans for being there to keep him company through it all, during this, a platform trampoline came out of nowhere and hung from the ceiling.  Justin and his dancers ran up the stairs to it to start the song.

A standout song on the night was ‘Children.’ A competition had previously been run to find skilled Irish child dancers to take part.  They absolutely nailed it and after the song they were all smitten, as Justin addressed them all individually.

Justin closed his show with the highlight of the night, “Sorry.” A long black blow up was put on stage and the Canadian singer and his dancers performed while rain lashed down on them.  Everybody left the concert feeling elated and wanting more.

You Me At Six does not disappoint at The Academy

By Rachel D’Arcy

It’s tough to break the ‘emo’ mould, but Surrey quintet You Me At Six managed to unleash a brand new, gritty edge at their first Dublin show in three years.

(Source: Rachel D’Arcy)

If you’ve never heard of You Me At Six, I wouldn’t blame you. Despite never having particularly hit the mainstream in Ireland, they achieved top ten status with their last two albums at home in the UK, as well as embarking on a sold-out arena tour early last year. Having locked themselves away for a bit to write their newest effort, ‘Night People,’ the five lads embarked on their smallest tour in five years, taking in a night at The Academy last Monday.

You Me At Six haven’t played Dublin since a sold out Olympia Theatre show just over three years ago, so anticipation was at a stratospheric high. Despite it being an 18+ gig, queues formed along the cold, dark street of Middle Abbey Street over an hour before doors at 7pm. With under 18’s and those without ID turned away, those lucky 500 that made it through the doors were treated to what was definitely You Me At Six’s best Irish show yet.

While the ‘Stay With Me’ hit-makers kept true to the classics, sticking to what they knew best, front man Josh Franceschi’s almost guttural vocals brought a new dish to the table. Even ‘Underdog’ and ‘Reckless’, two of the more pop-infused tracks of their back catalogue, were given a darker, more adult revision.

An impressive lighting rig only added to the already impressive show, with blues, reds and strobes brightening the faces of Franceschi (and most importantly, Franceschi’s fantastic two-step during ‘Safer To Hate Her’), bassist Matt Barnes, guitarists Chris Miller and Max Hayler, and drummer Dan Flint. Drum beats were illuminated, riffs electrified and vocals emphasised all by the impressive light show, only adding to YMAS’s talent as performers.

For someone who frequents gigs at The Academy, I’d never seen an audience more in unison than at this gig. The lyrics were screamed along to by all the twenty-somethings reliving their teen years, and by those who are impatiently anticipating the upcoming album. Strangers threw their arms around one another, while friends sat on each other’s shoulders. It was a sight to see, only amplified by the energetic display put on by the band themselves.

With Franceschi teasing a return to Dublin in early 2017, it won’t be one that fans of the band – past or present – will want to miss out on.

Dublin Beatles Festival hits the city this weekend

The third annual Dublin Beatles Festival will take place this coming weekend from Friday, November 6 to Sunday, November 8 across the city.

This year the event marks the 52nd anniversary of the quartet’s performance in the Irish capital on November 7th, 1963.

The highlight of the event is set to be the appearance of Freda Kelly, former secretary, fan club manager and subject of the documentary film, ‘Good Ol’ Freda’.

Kelly will do a public interview with Newstalk presenter Tom Dunne after a screening of the award-winning documentary on Sunday, November 8 in The Grand Social.

Other events which will take place on the weekend are a gig in The Cobalt Café and The Workman’s Club as well as a Beatles table quiz in the latter.

On the final day of the festival, the short film ‘Lennon Vs McCartney’ will be shown for free in The Grand Social before ‘The Finale Show’ with The Newspaper Taxi Men in the same venue later that night.

Also on that day there will be a free performance of part of the upcoming stage play ‘Pete Best of the Beatles’, which will debut in The New Theatre in Temple Bar in February 2016.

Georgina Flood will be exhibiting some of her drawings of the Fab Four on the closing day, and memorabilia and merchandise group, Beatles Days, will also be on hand throughout the weekend.

For more information visit the Dublin Beatles Festival website. Tickets for the festival are available through Eventbrite.

For more stories from Matthew, you can find him on Twitter at @_Gogery

Photo: Floyd B. Bariscale/ Flickr CC