Hot Press


There was an abundance of soulful energy in Lost Lane, Dublin on February 25, as some of Ireland’s brightest stars descended on the capital for Southern Comfort and Hot Press’ Carnival Spirit – a night of Mardi Gras celebratio­n and musical voodoo. Report:


From early evening at the brilliant Hot Press & Southern Comfort Carnival Spirit event, dancers, drummers and fire performers were on hand to entertain the eager revellers outside Lost Lane. Meanwhile, Dublin’s musicians came out in force to witness the carnival, with Róisín O, Mango, The Wha, Malaki, Zapho, Áine, Somebody’s Child, Eve Belle and Martin McDonnell all spotted among the crowd. Add to that, Junior Brother, Stolen City, Stephen James Smith, Saarloos, Runah, Orchid Collective, Hannah Cullen and Finnian who also arrived to support their onstage counterpar­ts.

Embracing the theme, guests were handed out traditiona­l colourful Mari Gras beads as they made their way up into the venue – kitted out in full New Orleans decoration­s, with entertaine­rs, jugglers, stilt walkers, and surprises around every corner.

In the Carousel Bar, 2FM DJ Tara Stewart set the party in motion with irresistib­le beats and crowd-pleasing grooves. Mentalist and magician Jamie Skelton left a trail of speechless guests in his wake, while revellers got into the spirit with facepainti­ng, glitter and smooth-drinking Southern Comfort cocktails.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the intimate Singer’s House, Michael MacLennan – or Dr. Michael Mac Jr. on this night! – paid homage to New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz with a stunning selection of piano standards – from ‘When The Saints Go Marching

In’ to ‘Georgia On My Mind’. Dublin vocalist Jess Kavanagh soon took things in a more soulful direction – putting her own unique spin on genre-blending numbers from Dusty Springfiel­d, Stevie Wonder and Al Green, and showcasing her talent with phenomenal scat outros, accompanie­d by the mercurial Luke Dunford on keys.

It wasn’t long before the thundering bass from the Main Stage heralded Tebi Rex’s set. With their trademark explosive energy, the alternativ­e hip-hop duo, backed by their DJ, R3D, rocked the crowd with all the highlights from their acclaimed debut album, 2019’s The Young Will Eat The Old. The recent Hot Press interviewe­es weren’t afraid to get the crowd involved, either – keeping the set lively with chants and sharp dance moves, while fans shouted back every lyric to hits ‘I Never Got Off The Bus’, ‘Robbin Szn’ and ‘Lotus Eaters’.

Of course, there could be no other headliner for Carnival Spirit than Ireland’s favourite New Orleans-inspired band, Booka Brass. Ensuring that the soulful energy of the Big Easy was well and truly alive in Lost Lane, the eight-piece band launched into a set bursting with their famously powerful live energy.

Combining funk grooves, slick beats and seriously impressive chops, Booka Brass proved to be the ultimate performers. Their high-energy set also featured the much-welcomed return of Jess Kavanagh, who enthralled the crowd with show-stopping vocals over powerhouse anthems from Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliot.

Supplying the perfect mix of house, disco and hits, former Hot Press cover star DJ Marcus O’Laoire was the final act to grace Carnival Spirit’s Main Stage – ensuring that the party continued long into the night, and leaving the departing revellers full of the dazzling spirit of Mardi Gras.

• Go to­irit to see the photo galleries from the night.

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