Righto, been heavily delayed getting this post out into the world with a packed schedule of events, so let’s get right to it. After the great experience I had at the half of the Garageland gig showcase I attended back in November, I eagerly awaited the occasion to experience the caliber of event they throw once more. Said opportunity arose with their return to the Crane Lane on April 12th with another stellar 4 act line-up of Irish talents to show what they could do. I made it nice and early to the event this time and got to meet some of the Garageland team. That in itself was brilliant as all the fantastic work they’re doing for the scene is highly inspiring and it’s an honour to cross paths with people with such dedication for Irish music. I also got my hands on the Garageland Volume 1 CD which features 16 Irish artists and bands which was a nice pickup.
First up on the bill for the evening was opening act Rufus Buck. Rufus Buck are a Cork-based indie-rock outfit who have quite freshly emerged in the scene and were playing their first gig together on this very evening. A notable point about the four-piece is the fact that their front-man is the cousin of The Elation’s frontman Chris, showing that music is something that runs in the familial blood. The lads put on a good show with some wholesome rock vibes. They gelled well for their first time gigging together with only a small tech issue towards the end of their set taking anything away from their performance. I’m hoping we see more from these lads in the not too distant future.
Rich City Vultures
Next up for the evening was Rich City Vultures, the only band of the night I was priorly familiar with and had seen live once before. They were unfortunately down a member of their band for the evening, with their hot-shot bassist JJ Lee unable to make it with them. They made do with a fill in replacement that they hadn’t played with before. Despite that set-back, the bassist was solid and didn’t let the lack of practice with the band show, looking every bit comfortable with the band. RCV demonstrated why they’re one of the hot prospects of the Cork scene right now, their live performances continuing to amaze. Personally one of my favourite antics of theirs is during their song ‘This Moment’, where their drummer switches out the regular drum-sticks for a red neon-lit pair and puts on quite the drumming spectacle. By the end of their set, their energy is off the hook with instruments being thrown and swung around the place in a wild display. Check out their EP ‘Cool Boy’ below.
Up to the stage after RCV was Eden Isle. They first popped their head up in the scene around the latter half of 2017. They put out a photo online hinting at a project they’re working towards called The Eclectic Church. They were fantastic live with a few styles showcased across their songs, loosely bundled into the genre of melodic rock/alternative. There was particular emphasis on their track ‘Numb’ which is set to be their debut single release anytime soon. The song focuses on the topic of peer pressure and is sure to go down well when it hits the aul’ interwebs. Besides the great music I was also intrigued by the stylish footwear of the front-man Kevin, which upon closer inspection had a kick-ass Joker design from batman. Irrelevant to current proceedings but I thought they were cool. Back to the music, they continued to kill it for the full set. While all their music was probably new to most in attendance, they partially played a particularly new song to their repertoire called ‘Ghost of You’ which was still in the writing process at the time, providing an interesting insight into their creative process before they’ve fleshed songs out fully.
The final act to the stage for the evening was alt-rock four-piece Black Violets. They had a stellar performance rocking the place and entertaining the crowd, which at this point was nicely filled out. They showcased their adept abilities with the switching of instruments at ease between members at the requirements of particular songs, with all but the drummer playing their hand at a number of the instruments in their arsenal. Much like Eden Isle before them, they ended out their set with a brand new song freshly finished just 2 days prior called ‘Know The Score’, absolutely smashing it for their debut of the tune. They’ve a 3 track EP available on Soundcloud that you can check out below to get an introduction to their sound.
Cork based band We March first entered my radar when they played in the November Garageland Ireland Cork showcase. Despite me missing their performance on the evening due to an over-saturated personal schedule, I heard great things and the evening was a big success overall. I made a note that I must experience their music live after missing out, and I kept my eyes and ears open for such an occasion to pop up. Funnily enough, such opportunity fittingly arose in the month of March. A band I hadn’t encountered before, Pinhole, was set to play at the Roundy on March 16th and We March were supporting. John Paul FitzGerald, the Pianist and songwriter for We March, was vigilant enough to remember my interest and notify me of the gig for which I’m very much grateful.
We March wasted no time showing why they’re an exciting prospect in the music scene right now. Playing tracks from their debut EP ‘The Dumb Angel’ and other as-yet unreleased material, they announce their presence emphatically. Songs such as their self-titled introductory track ‘We March’ and ‘Fight or Flight’ entice the listener with their incredibly catchy and energetic musical arrangements. With ‘Bones’ they deftly switch up the pace after reeling the listener in and get to work sinking their musical claws underneath your skin, to the bone perhaps if you will, and impacting on a deeper level. The titular track of the EP, ‘The Dumb Angel’, is a hauntingly beautiful minimalistic song carried by the masterful piano work of John Paul Fitzgerald and the mesmerizing vocals of Debbie Calzaccia, and completes the spine-tingling process of their music gripping you tightly and staying with you long after the final note has played out. John was brilliant enough to supply me with a hard copy of their EP after the show, and suffice to say it has seen plenty of spins ever since. With what they’ve accomplished on a 4 track EP, I’m certainly excited to see what time brings to the table in later releases. (Go on, press that play button below, you wont regret it)
After that incredible bit of music I am reminded that the evening has only but begun, as up next is the 4-piece Pinhole to take to the stage. Have I mentioned enough times over the last year how much amazing music there is in the Cork and Irish scene that has slipped past my attention? Flying under my radar until now, Pinhole is another perfect example of this. Not content to have their music placed in a meaninglessly labeled box, they transcend genres and have let their music carve a different path altogether. The result is a refreshingly unique and unpredictable sound that breathes with a life of its own. They put on a captivating performance that had me transfixed from start to end. At the front of the pack on lead vocals and Violin is the incredible Ciara O’Flynn. A neat trick I watched her do in a couple songs, something I’d personally never seen before, was her using her violin as a singing apparatus by singing through its acoustic body. It was an incredibly mystifying thing to watch and listen to, and produced a different and very cool sound.
Captaining a corner to himself surrounded by his triple piano set-up and on backing vocals (And for one song, lead vocals) is the talented Mark McLoughlin. He has a great sense of humour and, despite his self deprecating jokes before his main singing bit for the song ‘God Was Making Snow’, nailed it with his performance for that too. Towards the end of the set Ciara announces that they are going to attempt a brand new song fresh from it’s creation. Through the angles of limbs and instruments I glimpse the drummer at the back with the most priceless ‘I have no idea what we’re doing’ face aimed at Mark before they cracked into it. They smashed it though, drummer included, and closed out the set shortly after. They’ve a good few tracks up on Soundcloud (You know what to do, hit that play button below) to delight the ears with, and are currently expecting the release of their album at some point this year which should be an incredible piece of work. You can also check out their rather intriguing music video for their song ‘Oh No’ down below.
Yoo, so it’s about time I had another blog post featuring the ever fantastic Stephanie Rainey. Since last I wrote about her with her amazing Dublin show with Hermitage Green (Big ol’ essay of a blog post can be found here), I tucked another 2 shows under my belt before the year was out, that I unfortunately never got around to writing about. The first was another show with Hermitage Green in Cork. The second was Stephanie’s headline show at Cyprus Avenue in November, which at the time was accompanied with the release of her single ‘Sorry’.
This was an utterly amazing gig which featured a number of notable changes in Stephanie’s show. Up until then, the tune ‘Before We Fall’ had been a staple opener for her set, though this tour saw that shifted further down the set for the first time to be replaced with the banging tune ‘Question Mark’ as opener. This tour also saw the inclusion of a 4th member to the ranks, with Peter Piggott adding an electric guitar element to the show that previously had not been there. I had my curiosities about how this might work, especially when he stayed on stage, guitar in hand, when the set moved into the likes of ‘Please Don’t Go’. There was definitely no cause for worry though, he did a fantastic job and his contribution to Please Don’t Go was subtle but effective and did every bit of justice to the song. Last new point of the tour was the introduction of a full range of meeeerch, but more on that later. I want to give a shoutout to Tim Chadwick who supported the show as well. The fella is incredibly talented and put on a brilliant solo performance to open the evening, dividing his time on the stage between playing with acoustic guitar for some songs, and piano for the others. Definitely recommend checking him out for sure.
Now that I’ve sped through the previous show, let’s get into the current show in question which took place again in Cyprus Avenue in mid March. Initially scheduled for the beginning of the month, the Beast from the East swept through the country and caused the gig to be postponed, which turned my liking of the snow at the time to contempt quick as a flash. Support for this tour came from Rob Burch, but with the rescheduled date he wasn’t available for this show and so Sarah-Beth got the call-up to grace the stage before Stephanie Rainey. Sweet deal for me, got to witness two of my favourite Cork artists in the scene right now for the price of one.
Given the last minute nature of the replacement, and Aaron O Sullivan plying his trade on Guitar over in Italy for the weekend, this was a solo set from Sarah-Beth. It was a nice touch though, because it brought out the more lyrical-heavy, dreamy side of her set with the likes of her tracks from the EP ‘Your Muse’ seeing some play time, which is always nice. For this gig I was joined by my mate Darragh, so I had the pleasure of introducing him to the music of Sarah-Beth for his first time. Safe to say, like the first time I listened to her music and saw her play, he too was mesmerized and instantly hooked. I was glad that Stephanie Rainey would get to hear Sarah-Beth’s music too, because Stephanie and Gary had in fact walked in on the 1000 Beasts gig she supported in February, but had missed her set at the time. That evening ended up being the inspiration behind this International Women’s Day blog series I am currently writing (This post included) as the idea occurred to me when watching Sarah-Beth and noticing my schedule had a lot of female talent in it, including Stephanie Rainey who walked in unexpectedly about 10 minutes after me realizing this. #serendipity.
Without further ado, it was time to experience Stephanie Rainey live for my 8th time, and I was as excited as ever. Just as Darragh was joining me for this gig, he too was joined at this gig by my now-acquaintances that I met for the first time on this evening, Mary and Grainne. Just as the last headline show for Stephanie Rainey had heralded in a change to her live show, so too was the case on this evening. Besides the trending pattern of her shows/tours arriving at the same time as a new single, this time with the release of ‘Question Mark’, there was yet another new addition to her full band set-up, albeit with an asterisk for this particular gig. Joining her set-up as a 5th member going forward is none other than Kevin Herron, who we have previously seen on the blog a number of times between him being in Tiz McNamara’s band and also being the new addition to Little Hours since the summer. Kevin is taking over Acoustic guitar duties from Stephanie Rainey, freeing her up at the front of the stage to sing and perform her heart out to the crowd. That said, Little Hours got whisked off to Dubai for Paddy’s weekend and took Kevin with them, so filling in on the night was the wonderful Ian O’Doherty. Ian was fantastic for this gig, putting in a wonderful performance and was instrumental to the show going as perfect as it did.
In keeping with the adjustment to the set in November, Question Mark continued as the opening song for the night. With it’s recent release as the newest single, it was fresh on everyone’s minds and went down a treat, kicking us off to a brilliant start to the show. One thing was definitely clear from the go: This was going to be a very special evening. Stephanie, Gary, Sarah, Peter and Ian were giving it 110 percent of the magic they’re capable of, and there was a great crowd in on the evening who were very responsive for singing along, which is a key factor to any great Stephanie Rainey show. Stephanie without the guitar in her hands was able to focus entirely on singing and putting on a show for the audience, and delivered in abundance. A couple songs into the set, we were treated to something new! A lovely new song I’d never heard in Stephanie’s set before called ‘For You’. Elsewhere in the set all the usual favourite’s made their appearances, ‘Sorry’, ’13’, ‘Please Don’t Go’ etc. I’ve been so sure ’13’ was the next single in line since before ‘Sorry’ came out, however it has a couple of times been pushed further down the line of release, so it’s rather tentatively that I note now it’s pegged for a summer release, here’s hoping. About mid-way through the set, we were treated to a cover song. Too early in the typical Rainey set to be the Man in the Mirror MJ cover, it had to be something new instead that we were about to witness. Sure enough, the band cracked out a fantastic performance of the song ‘Simply The Best’ to much fanfare and approval.
The rest of the set followed usual form, with the likes of the as-yet unreleased ‘Beauty In Your Madness’ being a crowd favourite for going crazy and signalling that we were heading into the latter stages of the remaining songs. From there the energy and excitement in the room only builds up, as everyone sings along to ‘Man in the Mirror’ and ‘Nothing Of You Left to Love’. Before the show closes on 100 Like Me, Stephanie does the usual stressing to the crowd that it is in fact the last song and that they don’t do encores in a setting like this where you can’t really just ‘leave’ the stage and come back. 100 Like Me get’s the room absolutely shaking as always, but when Stephanie and Co. leave the stage, they’re blown away by the ‘we want more’ and ‘one more tune’ chants. In a huddle to the side of the stage, I observe them consider their options. And for the first time I’ve witnessed in a Stephanie Rainey show, they walk back up, and Stephanie asks us if another go of ‘Question Mark’ would suffice. It’s a resounding yes from the crowd, and thus the show opener serves also as the show closer. That being said, the energy of the amped up crowd at this point is so electric that the second dose of Question Mark is an absolutely stunning anthemic display from both the band and the crowd singing and is incomparable to the first time heard on the evening.
Merch and Next Shows
When I went to the headline show in November, I spent my last pennies of the week acquiring Stephanie’s 100 Like Me shirt and their CD with 100 Like Me (2 versions), Sorry, Nothing Of You Left To Love (2 versions) and Please Don’t Go on it which is essentially a self-titled EP if not officially considered as such. I gladly had this signed by Stephanie, Sarah, Gary and even the after-show elusive Peter Piggott at the time. For this show, I was proudly rocking the shirt and equipped with the tote bag too, so I just had to finish up my hoard with the 100 Like Me beanie hat that I missed last time and complete my lyric sheet collection. Darragh wasted no time in collecting every bit of merch he could too. Chilling with Darragh, Mary and Grainne afterwards, being the walking advertisements that me and Darragh were, eventually Mary and Grainne all but caved to the temptation and acquired the shirts too, so we all looked the part.
100 Like Me Beanie
100 Like Me Shirt
Question Mark Lyric Sheet
Sorry Lyric Sheet
Stephanie Rainey CD
With my 8th show under the belt, I’m eagerly looking forward to my next opportunities. I currently have shows #9 and #10 planned, and I dare say I even have #11 in the bag too but I’m going to hold onto the details of that one for the moment while I confirm it. Coming up on the 25th of this month, Stephanie Rainey will be playing alongside Hermitage Green, The Strypes and Fontaines D.C. at Cork Opera House as part of the Music Cork events ongoing that week. I’m super excited for that as I’ve been eagerly awaiting more Hermitage Green, have been meaning to get around to The Strypes, and have heard good things about Fontaines. Next from there is June 7th, Kodaline at the Marquee which I bought the minute tickets launched, and Stephanie Rainey has just been announced as the support which I am absolutely over the moon about, as a Marquee show from Stephanie Rainey is going to be absolutely mental. That’s about it for this one folks, stay tuned for the next post in the International Women’s Day series which features Pinhole and We March.
Happy Easter! Up next in my International Women’s Day series, is a gig from the very day itself, when Cyprus Avenue put on a fantastic line-up to celebrate the day that’s in it. First up for the evening to hit the stage was Míde Houlihan. Míde is an artist I had been loooong overdue getting around to catch live for the first time, with her name circulating on the peripherals of my attention for ages. I was most notably familiar with her role over at the Bru Bar in relation to all the amazing music they put on their stage all year round. The first thing to strike me when she went on stage was her acoustic guitar which displays a plethora of stickers, adding stories and character to it’s frame. Everything from Vans to the Beatles, CEX to De Barra’s of Clonakilty adorns it’s body.
My attention wasn’t long being drawn away from the visuals of the guitar when Míde began to sing. I’m a sucker for emotionally gut-punching music, and Míde has cracked the code in that particular style of song-writing wonderfully. She has a captivating vocal presence that draws you in real close while at the same time sending the mind spiraling away into a place beyond the room in which she plays, following the trail of the story she spins. She’s a master of making the music relatable for the audience and making you think, or at least that’s how I’ve viewed it but I’m quite certain it translated across well to many others in attendance too. I’m really loving her album ‘Coloured In’ at the moment, much of which comprised the set that she played for us on the evening in question.
Well well well, Sarah-Beth we do be meeting again. It seems impossible and yet entirely a true fact that 7 months have passed since first that name became known to me with the launch of her EP ‘Your Muse’ (The blog post for which can be found here). It has been nothing short of an eventful period of time, with Sarah-Beth being featured as one of my Top Five One’s to Watch for 2018 in my recap blog at the beginning of the year. Indeed, judging from the first few months of the year so far, she’s off to a great start already. With a steady gigging work rate in the time since first I saw her take the stage, she has staggeringly overtaken Stephanie Rainey as my most viewed live artist, clocking up at something around the likes of 13 live shows I’ve now attended at the time of writing.
I have followed her progression as an artist in that time with keen interest. From first discovering the dreamy & lyrical side to her music and then promptly finding out about the other side with the alt-hip hop vibes and electronic influences, to entering 2018 ready for new growth with a fresh look, building the band back up from scratch. Initially I saw this take the form of Aaron O Sullivan playing with her as a duo (There he goes again, sneakily working his way into yet another consecutive blog post. There’s no stopping him now, he has spread to all corners of the Cork music scene!) on stages such as KINO and The Roundy when Sarah-Beth and Travis is a Tourist supported 1000 Beasts (Absolutely unreal show that unfortunately slipped through the cracks of a hectic schedule of blog posts, a name that will undoubtedly show up for me again soon though).
This International Women’s Day gig being the 3rd Sarah-Beth show of 2018 I’ve witnessed, it came with yet another new development. This was the debut for Sarah-Beth’s new full band look, which including Aaron O Sullivan bossing it on guitar also features Lee Kennedy on Bass and Joe Keniry on Drums. They put on a mesmerizing performance in true Sarah-Beth style. A most peculiar and unanticipated event occurred when Sarah-Beth was doing her song ‘Easy On The Eyes’. She was about mid way through the number when suddenly, travelling through the air in an impressive arc from the distance, what should fly onto the stage landing by her foot but someone’s bra. That was certainly something else. This was not long followed by the owner of said bra making a recovery mission for her misplaced property and scampering away from the stage again sheepishly. Absolute madness!
Up next to follow in the footsteps of Sarah-Beth was none other than Sara Ryan, which of course meant that Aaron O Sullivan was barely with a foot off the stage before he was straight back onto it again, what a champ. Sara picked up where she left off with the performance in Coughlan’s a few weeks prior, putting on another stellar set of music with the band. Sara continues to showcase gig to gig, performance after performance, why she is on the path to bigger and greater things as time goes by. She brings the magic to the stage each and every time, and has this infectiously positive demeanour both in and out of the music that brings out the best of moods and brightens the day of anyone who has the pleasure of being in her presence. A right gem so she is.
Gadget and the Cloud
Bringing the finishing touches to the evening was Kelly Doherty on the decks, AKA Gadget And The Cloud. Kelly is a DJ/Producer in Cork, and she has just released her first album ‘Songs For Sad People To Dance To’. When it comes to the live performance on the night, I unfortunately didn’t catch much of it except for the start as it was running rather late into the night and I had work early in the morning to think of. The part that I did catch at least however was solid indeed, with Kelly doing great work at getting people moving to the music, and left me standing at the exit reluctant to leave and wishing I could stay and experience it in full. You can listen to and buy the album on her Bandcamp page at the following link, I recommend checking it out for sure.
Just over a month ago I was scrolling through Instagram on a boring evening, and I happened across the Instagram story from Luke Tai. Keen to see what the ex-Elation drummer might be up to, I checked in to see what’s up. I found him promoting the inaugural event for a new music platform in Cork called Tower St. Music, taking place that weekend. Exciting new platform, Cork music scene, the lovely venue that is Kino hosting it, and Luke Tai involved somehow? Sounds right up my alley, I signed up immediately, no hesitation.
So, before I get into the event itself, how’s about we shed some light on what Tower St. Music do. Standing at the helm of this new platform are three people: Brian Davies, Ciara O’Toole and Enda Mullan, and they certainly deserve a lot of praise for what they’ve put together here. The main functions of Tower St. Music can be split down into 2 main operations: The online segment, and the live-gig. The online segment is where the team at Tower St. get together with the artists they will be showcasing, and record interviews and live performances from them to go online for the web-series. This is a great way for people to get familiar with the artists and to push their names out there a bit. This all culminates in the monthly live-gig then, with the artists who have shown up on the web-series coming together for an evening and playing a gig in a well organized evening of music. This currently resides in the fantastic venue Kino on Washington Street. Typically three artists/bands will be featured at a time, and the web-series is a great tool to determine whether or not the bands who will play would be to your tastes and therefore draw you to attend. Personally I don’t see myself missing too many of these shows this year or indeed any year, unless I am already tied to other plans on an evening in question.
A Matter of Loyalty
Without further ado, let’s get cracking with the event. I rocked up to the Kino, and was delighted to see the online buzz generated by it had actually translated to a good number of physical humans in attendance, with plenty of people filling out the place. I recognized a number of people there, such as Sarah-Beth and Sara Ryan, Luke Tai of course, and wouldja believe it I was only talking last blog post about Aaron O Sullivan suddenly cropping up everywhere I go, and here he was too, the second time that day alone I had bumped into him no less. The very first order of business upon entering the door was to be presented with my very own Live Gig Loyalty Card. I’m sorry, did I hear that correctly or had I died and gone to heaven? You’re giving ME a loyalty card for GIGS? Find me a more tailored loyalty card, you wont. Catch up, ye venues and promoters of the world, Tower St. Music just snuck through the inside line and stormed through into first place, this needs to be implemented everywhere ASAP. I nabbed myself a cosy spot up the front on a bean bag and spent the next half an hour or so twirling the loyalty card in my hand like I was Gollum and it were my precious.
And so, proceedings began. The great big screen came to life with a countdown, and then announced for us the first act of the evening: Sinéad Murphy. Up onto the stage she came, joined by Derbhaile Maclean and Sarah Hickey. Sinéad was equipped with both an acoustic guitar and a piano with which to present her music to us listeners on this fine evening. Sinéad is very close to releasing her new EP ‘The Golden Book’ soon, some of the tunes from which she played to us in this gig. She played her heart out on the stage, channeling her experiences and stories out in the music and carrying us along with her. Songs such as ‘Old Church Street’ lifted us up on a cloud and took us to her home town of Athenry and demonstrated the love she has for the place. She played some of the set solo, and some of it with Derbhaile and Sarah, the combination of them creating some wonderful three-piece harmonies. Along with the live-gig, Sinéad was the pilot episode of the Tower St. web series, with an interview episode and a live performance episode. You can catch the interview below, and check out the recorded live performance on the Tower St. youtube page at the following link (Here).
Next up to the stage was Just Charlie. A band so big, they actually had two bands! They have their songwriting feet firmly planted in two opposite directions, and throwing the poetry of Robert Frost to the wind, split their body and traveled both roads simultaneously. With the first side to the band, they explored the route of lyrical songwriting and emotional music. Halfway through, and with a switch in the cast, they veered down the direction of a more electric feel. My man Luke Tai himself came up and played the drums. Albeit not in a manner I’m used to seeing him, for he was sat behind one of those electric drum pads whacking away at that instead of a real kit. Both sides to the band played some really good music and had their merits. The last song they played especially stuck out to me, reminding me somewhat of the music Talos makes.
The Davies Brothers
Bringing a fantastic evening of music and an overall very well run event to a close was The Davies Brothers. No sooner had Luke Tai left the stage than had he come straight back up, this time at the helm of the physical drum-kit. And over to the left, playing for the 76th band I’ve seen him among the ranks of in 2018, the one and only Aaron O Sullivan was there to do some damn good guitar playing. A Luke Tai and Aaron O Sullivan combo in one band, now that’s a mix I hadn’t anticipated but was pretty excited for. At the front of course were the Davies brothers themselves, Eoin and Brian. A fine pair they were, with acoustic guitar, bass, and their voices between them. Watch out Dan and Barry Murphy of Hermitage Green, you’ve got competition! With that, an epic and highly successful launch night reached it’s end. Brian, Ciara and Enda made their way to the stage to much fanfare to give their thanks and their speech of what it meant to them to kick off such an amazing project. The next live gig is in fact tonight, with an incredible line-up consisting of Ghostking is Dead, Sara Ryan and Sarah-Beth hitting the stage. I’ve seen all three before, and it’s for sure going to be amazing, I’m looking forward to catching that second stamp on my loyalty card.
Continuing with the International Women’s Day blog series, this next gig features an absolute powerhouse line-up of talents gracing the Coughlan’s Live stage. Co-Headlining the event were Emma Langford and Sara Ryan. But first, to kick things off they also brought along Jess Leen to support on the evening. Jess is not only a wonderful singer and songwriter, but she is also the mastermind behind the play ‘Two of Clubs’ which she debuted in December to much positive reception, and she’ll be looking to go forward with more dates for it down the line if you’re interested in keeping an eye out on her page for more news on that. Jess took to the stage with just her voice and her acoustic guitar, and she played a lovely set of songs to set the mood for the evening. You can check out her EP ‘Where the Door Is’ on Spotify, and you can get a taster of the original music for her play with her song ‘Nothing Like New York’ in the video below.
Next up to the stage was Emma Langford, the Limerick lass with coffee running through her veins. Down a member of her usual full band, she had recruited guitarist Aaron O Sullivan from Sara Ryan’s band, making that two shared members with Hannah Nic Gearailt playing for both also. If I have any of my West Corkonians reading this, you’d likely be familiar with Aaron being considered one of the most talented guitarist exports from West Cork at the moment. Besides early run ins with his cover band early last year out West, Aaron had stayed off my Cork City music radar since I returned to live here. However with the turn of the year into 2018, he has suddenly started popping up pretty much at every other gig I attend, either as a performer or otherwise attending. He’s always a good laugh on stage and he’s crazily skilled with the guitar, you’ll be seeing him in several of the upcoming blog posts in my schedule that he’s weaseled his way into. The banter on stage between him, Emma and the rest of the band was mighty altogether. ‘Twas only the first song of the set, an emotional and restrained number called ‘All You Want’, when Aaron got carried away with the slip of a finger, entering full on electric solo mode for a split second. They quickly recovered composure and continued on their merry way, with nothing short of a comedic roasting from Emma taking place after the song, though it was all in jest and soon was replaced with nothing but praise and respect for the guitarist.
Emma really knows how to put on a spectacular performance, whilst carrying the audience on an emotional journey through all sorts of ups and downs, never losing us in the process. She juxtaposes the different energies between tracks like ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ and ‘6 foot 4’, keeping us in thrall from start to end. Towards the middle of the set she brings out ‘Tug o’ War’, a powerful song focusing on anxiety and depression. Mid song Aaron, ever the quick thinker and not one to miss an opportunity, has the wit to whip out a lighter and wave the flame for a moment. Following that song, Emma, Sara and Hannah join forces on a couple of covers. Up first is ‘In Dictum’ due to their shared love of Wallis Bird, and then ‘When You’re Gone’ by the Cranberries. The latter being an incredibly moving tribute from one Limerick native to another, the emotions flowing in full force throughout the room. It’s a touching display towards such a stalwart figure in the music community. Emma closes out the set after that with two more songs to bring the spirits and energy back up, playing ‘Quiet Giant’ and ‘Closed Book’.
Sara Ryan is a name I have seen in circulation for quite some time, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see live. It was inevitable that her and I would finally cross paths, and what better an occasion than the closing set of an epic evening in Coughlan’s. In the lead-up to the gig, she released her most recent single ‘Euphoric Recall’ and has also worked on songs with the likes of Barry Wilson. In more recent news, she has just launched her debut EP ‘Glitter Skies’ and will be playing the second installment of Tower St. Music’s gig series on the 26th in Kino venue Cork. (I’ll be covering the launch event of Tower St. in my next post to give you an idea of what’s going on there). Sara, much like Aaron, has become a regular sight on the various stages I have come across since seeing her the first time and will be a feature in at least 2 more upcoming blog posts in my schedule. Generally speaking I don’t tend to comment much on the attire of the musicians I cover, but I must say that the dress Sara was wearing on the night in Coughlan’s was absolutely gorgeous, a lovely and stylish look for sure.
On stage, Sara came across as the most genuine, down to earth person you could hope to interact with. Soft spoken and full of life, when she’s interacting with the audience or telling the stories behind her music, her lovely personality flows through. As a singer, she has a powerful, soul-infused vocal delivery that’s a pleasure to listen to, with a wonderful band of musicians behind her fleshing out the sound masterfully. Anyone I’ve ever heard about Sara Ryan from had nothing but the utmost praise for her as an artist and as a person, and it was easy to see why. She finished the evening with a lovely set of music, with songs from both on and off the new EP. The evening culminated in Sara and her band, Emma and Jess taking to the stage, and Emma’s band filling out whatever space in and around the stage that they could, for a great big collaboration of several talented people performing all at once.
Thereafter I went to acquire Merch. I was already wearing my Emma Langford badge, had her CD signed at home, and have pre-ordered the vinyl, currently awaiting the pressing (sooooon is the word trailing down the grapevine), but that didn’t stop me picking up a second copy of the CD which Emma was lovely enough as always to sign that I may include it as part of a birthday present for my friend. Sara had 2 CD’s on sale, the first ‘Sara Bear’ containing songs ‘Belle’ and ‘Hold On’, and the second being a fresh batch of the new single ‘Euphoric Recall’. I collected two of each, and met Sara for a lovely chat and she kindly signed one set for me and one for the birthday friend. Suffice to say I left that evening a very satisfied Merchly Perchly person. That’s all for now, join me next time as I unveil the latest innovative thing hitting the streets of Cork City, Tower St. Music. Peace out – Seán.
Alrighty then, kicking us off in the blog series celebrating International Women’s Day is Cork artist Anna Mitchell, with support from Marie Danielle. Marie hails from Pennsylvania and was here for her first Irish tour, journeying around the land alongside Anna’s own tour. Taking place at none other than my local venue of choice Coughlan’s Live on the 8th of February, this was the first of two of their dates in the same venue due to popular demand. Taking to the stage with just herself and an acoustic guitar, Marie captivated the room with her natural stage presence and imaginative story-telling in her music. She had wonderful tales to tell in relation to the songs she was sharing with us, from the likes of working with someone like Simone Felice on her album ‘Hustler’, to the culture shock of being a big city girl moving to the back end of nowhere. She’s currently working on her second album which I am rather intrigued to hear more about when there’s more to say on that front.
Up next was Anna Mitchell, performing with her full band. Anna was touring to promote her newly released self-titled second album. While her music was a new experience for myself, a quick look around the storied walls of Coughlan’s is quite telling of Anna’s prowess, with her name making it’s mark on the vibrant history of the place several times over. In the run up to the album launch, she released a new music video for a single from the album called ‘It Pours’. The song features an infectiously fun, funky, up-tempo vibe to it, and a mesmerizing music video of Anna donning bright neon face paints in the dark to perform the song. As pretty much my first introduction to Anna as an artist and her music, I was pleasantly hooked immediately and awaited the date of her show eagerly.
As far as the live performance goes, it was a stellar show all round. The energy was high and the feeling in the room was incredible, Anna and her band really know how to put on a great show and connect with the room. The craic was mighty, the air was buzzing, and the music a flowin’ freely. There was a matching theme of the colour red around Anna herself, from her red leather skirt to the red keyboard before her, and the red tambourine she broke out for a few tracks of shaking and clapping to boot. My attention was also drawn with much intrigue to her guitarist at the corner of the stage and his guitar in question, which appeared to be missing a jagged section from the side of it. No doubt a well storied instrument, it certainly added an extra dimension of interest to it and it’s owner.
After the show was finished, I found myself at the Merch table in the hall eyeing up a glorious Anna Mitchell vinyl in the middle of the table, grabbing at my attention. I’m a big fan of the wonderful artwork on it, and I loved the music I’d heard, so it was a no-brainer that I added that to my collection. I also nabbed Marie’s album ‘Hustler’ on CD while I was at it. I bumped into Anna and thanked her for a great show. That’s it for this time, keep an eye out for the next post in the series where we return to this very same stage for a whopper cast in the form of Sara Ryan, Emma Langford and Jess Leen. I’ll try be quicker on this one, I’ve been mad busy. Too many gigs, not enough writing time, what a complaint to have!