The Midsummer festival is shining on Cork for 10 days, ending on July 1. It’s an arts and culture festival that brightens up the city for a few days in anotherwise dull summer. In previous years it’s only been the music events that have really appealed to me – the Spiegeltent was synonymous with the Midsummer festival for a number of years but no longer features. I’d seen the likes of Jape and Fred in there in past years but once you get over the novelty of watching a band in a circus tent, you realise that the crowds aren’t exactly flocking to it. So nobody mourned when it didn’t come back. There are still some great music events happening as part of the festival, though, including Dylan Tighe’s Record – “an ambitious new project which explores depression and the concept of “mental illness” with courage, imagination, subversive humour and radical honesty” – Bowerbird, which features Sam Amidon and Malcolm Middleton among others, and David Kitt performing his debut album Small Moments.

Sadly I won’t be able to go to any of these events due to work, but last Friday I got to experience what I’m sure will be many a person’s highlight of Cork Midsummer – Berlin Love Tour. I don’t want to give too much away, but the name is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a tour of Berlin, but in Cork. The highlights of the German capital – the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust memorial etc – all feature, but you have to use your imagination. If the sheer ludicrousness of the dole office in Cork filling in for the Brandenburg Gate doesn’t affect you, nothing will. It’s a one-person play, insofar as it can be called a play. So much of what our host Hilary O’Shaughnessy tells us is repeated from what a guide told us when we were actually in Berlin (last September, since you ask). It’s a funny, curious event that engages those who leave their cynicism at the door – or at the start of the tour, anyway.

Berlin Love Tour made us see Cork in a different light; indeed we saw places in Ireland’s second city that we had never seen or been to before. The ending will stay with me forever – it was one of those events that just makes all your worries wash away, makes all problems in one’s life seem superfluous, and it all took place in a setting that nobody could have expected feeling those feelings. If you get a chance to go see Berlin Love Tour before it ends on June 30, please do.

(I interviewed the director of the festival, Tom Creed, a few weeks ago for issue three of De/Code. He was so enthusiastic about it all, so infectious and optimistic. He is also the director of Berlin Love Tour. During our 30-minute conversation Creed had convinced me I had to see and experience Berlin Love Tour, even though he wasn’t trying to convince me.)

Berlin Love Tour overshadowed the rest of my weekend. I was at two gigs over the weekend as well, both in the Pavilion. While the French artist Onra made good tunes and had the place dancing, it didn’t really do anything for me. I could appreciate the musicianship, though it got a little boring after an hour. However, on Saturday night I got to experience the hard-rocking Irish band Bats for the first time. They don’t just grab people’s attention, they strangle it, throw it on the ground, stamp on it and shout over its mangled carcass. They’re pretty good, in other words. They have a new album arriving in September on the Richter Collective label, the follow-up to Red In Tooth & Claw. The songs they play from the forthcoming release are so engaging and take so many turns that I’m surprised not one of the three guitarists onstage have a map nearby. The crowd’s a little disappointing in that there are just about enough people watching to warrant calling it a crowd, but the people standing directly in front of Bats are transfixed for 50 or so minutes, realising they’re seeing one of the best bands in the country.

It was a great weekend in Cork, with a real buzz evident. Long may it continue.