Wider Than Pictures Series sees Philo's songs in the city centre

Music is bigger than words and wider than pictures was the quote from  Mogwai’s record Yes, I Am A Long Way From Home  and it’s one that has been adapted for the first Singular Artists summer series.

Wider Than Pictures is a selection of shows in the auspicious grounds of the National Museum of Ireland at  Collins Barracks where the likes of Alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Simply Red and the RTE Concert Orchestra will perform at the tail end of the Irish summer.

The wide range of acts is intentional as relatively new promotions company Singular Artists want to start something in the heart of the city. Though the company is new, it’s made up of a selection of seasoned bookers and promoters from Ireland who have set sail post pandemic with a new vigour.

wider than pictures series sees philo's songs in the city centre

Shobsy, Tom Dunne and Jess Kav with RTÉ Concert Orchestra members. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

‘We wanted something of ours that we could start as we mean to go on,’ says Fin O’Leary of Singular Artists.

‘We wanted something that  was in the  city centre, a stunning spot with great food and beverage options with easy access on public transport where you can go and have a fantastic night and get home and sleep in your own bed.

We are looking at this series as almost like a last hurrah for the summer in Dublin.’

wider than pictures series sees philo's songs in the city centre

Phil Lynott’s songs will be played by an orchestra. Pic: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The diversity of the shows is intentional, as is the breathtaking space where O’Leary hopes people will feel an emotional response to the music and the surroundings.

‘What we want is for people to be there for the music but also react with the space and get that kind of synergy that you do in the likes of Iveagh Gardens,’ he says. ‘Once you walk into Clarke Square in Collins Barracks you get the sense that it is something special.’

For Singular’s Brian Hand, the venue has a special significance. He is presiding over the Thin Lizzy Orchestrated gig with RTE  Concert Orchestra and special guests. And bringing Philo back to the heart of his beloved Dublin will be an emotional moment for audience and organiser alike.

He has previously collaborated with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra on numerous shows, most recently their Leonard Cohen outing at All Together Now, along with the orchestra’s Joe Csibi and Mary Sexton.

wider than pictures series sees philo's songs in the city centre

Tom Dunne will join the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Jess Kav, Shobsy, Jack O’Rourke, Mundy and Wallis Bird on August 27. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

‘They are always trying to find different projects for the orchestra to work on to try and make them more accessible to everyone. And after seeing the Emer Reynolds documentary Songs For While I’m Away, they thought it would be great to do  an orchestral version of Thin Lizzy songs.’

The contacts were made, the wheels were put in motion and Phil’s family and the estate agreed.

‘Then this idea came up for us of doing shows in Collins Barracks and I thought wouldn’t it be really cool to have Phil Lynott orchestral versions in Collins Barracks, overlooking the Liffey?’

On the night of August 27, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will be joined by singers Jess Kav, Tom Dunne, Shobsy, Jack O’Rourke, Mundy and Wallis Bird as they perform songs from the legendary rock band’s back catalogue. And it will be mesmerising to hear songs like Old Town being sung as the Liffey flows softly by.

wider than pictures series sees philo's songs in the city centre

Bringing Philo back to the heart of his beloved Dublin will be an emotional moment for audience and organiser alike. Pic: Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

‘I have heard some of the arrangements as some rehearsals have taken place out in RTE and I did sneak in to listen,’ says Hand enthusiastically. ‘They sound great. The orchestral arrangements have been done by John Metcalfe who has worked with U2, Peter Gabriel, Bowie, Coldplay and a lot of others.’

The music of Thin Lizzy is special for Hand as a fan but also on a very personal level, due to the connection with his late father Jim, a music impresario in his own right.

‘I was lucky enough to see Thin Lizzy live a few times – I know I am giving away my age there,’ says Hand. ‘I was even lucky enough to meet Phil Lynott once. My father was in the music business and he would have known Phil over the years. He introduced me to him one fay when I was 15 or 16 in town. I think it was one of the highlights of my life — I was dumbstruck then and I am still dumbstruck now.’

In fact, it was Jim Hand to whom the young Eric Bell came seeking advice when Lynott asked him to join Thin Lizzy. Bell was in one of the showbands that Hand managed and asked what he thought of the offer.

wider than pictures series sees philo's songs in the city centre

Camille Farrer and Mia Cooper, from the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, at the statue of Phil Lynott on Harry Street, Dublin. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

‘My dad said ‘Absolutely, I think they are a great band.’ He helped Eric get to London and then things opened up for them.

‘Eric is still alive and still playing and he’s always very complimentary about my dad and how he helped him get into Thin Lizzy.’

So it will be an emotional experience for all concerned, not least because some of the late rocker’s family are making the journey to Dublin for the show.

‘If you speak to any musician involved in the show, they will tell you  there is nothing like having an orchestra behind you,’ says Hand. ‘There’s a different kind of power than with a rock and roll band. It will be an amazing experience for everyone.’

Singular Artists presents Wider Than Pictures at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin’s Collins Barracks from August 25 — 28. Alt-J perform on August 25, Simply Red are on August 26, Thin Lizzy Orchestrated is on August 27 and Fleet Foxes is on August 28. Tickets for all shows are available from ticketmaster.ie

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