Yo yo, can’t tell ye how excited I am to get this post and those to follow it out there. This will be the first in a kind of 3-piece sequence of blog posts I’ll be putting out in the next week. Got some more music discovery journeys to bring you, starting with this one. As I’ve mentioned, I really love discovering new music, especially when the first time I discover them is during a live performance they are putting on as it’s a much more immersive way to come across some really cool music. Such is definitely the case with this one. Roll back to March of this year, and I receive an invite to a gig for a band called Little Hours. I’m like cool, never heard of ’em, I’m down let’s do it. To give myself a tiny taste of what I’m in for, I check out the music video for a track they have called ‘Water’ and I’m definitely intrigued at this point because I can already tell from this that they definitely have some merits as an up and coming band in the Irish scene. The video itself has over half a million views so far (You can check out that music video here). I leave my research at that for the time being, opting to do most of my discovery at the actual gig.
The date for the gig comes around, March 24th 2017, and it’s taking place at the venue in Cork called Cyprus Avenue. The gig in question has been completely sold out. I learn that there’s also going to be a support artist called Stephanie Rainey. Again, another artist I had yet to discover so I was pretty excited. We enter the venue and wait for the evening to proceed. Eventually the time comes for Stephanie Rainey to come out and play. I’m caught up immediately in just how comfortable a stage presence she seems to bring and exude throughout the entire venue. She easily captures the crowds attention and is brilliant in building a rapport with the audience, whether it’s describing the meaning behind a song she’s playing, or just bantering with the crowd, she brings charisma to the stage in abundance.
With her on stage is Sarah Power on keys and backing vocals, and percussionist Gary Keane, who’s set up of the evening consists of strapping a million and one types of percussion instruments onto every available surface around him, and the cajón upon which he sits. Quite the impressive array, of which he puts every piece to good use. Between them, the tight knit trio puts on an absolutely amazing gig from which they definitely earned many a new fan, myself included. Stephanie Rainey’s music comes from a place of pure honesty and forgoes the glossy pop mainstream plastering on a lot of music these days. When you listen to Stephanie Rainey, you’re listening to something authentic to the very core.
The song and accompanying music video that first catapulted Stephanie Rainey into the limelight of the music scene was the heart-wrenching track ‘Please Don’t Go’. The song is an emotional tribute to the loss of her young Nephew many years back, the writing of which was sparked from Stephanie visiting a friend in hospital and fearing that she’d be going down that road of heart breaking loss once again. Very much a somber song, to pull it off in a packed venue must be a tremendously difficult prospect, and yet as Stephanie stands on stage and speaks from the heart about what the song means to her, and then begins to play it, the level of command she has on the entire audience is breathtaking, everyone is captivated and feels the depth of emotion that pulsates through every second of the song. The music video has amassed over 650,000 views on YouTube, and you can check it out at the link here – A word of warning though, it will make you feel things. Following on from the success of ‘Please Don’t Go’, Stephanie came out with the song ‘100 Like Me’, a powerful anthem of a song tackling issues of self-consciousness, self-image and self-worth, and also has a music video with some incredible imagery telling the stories of just a few of the many people that the song resonates with (Video here). In contrast to the first song, this one commands the crowd in a whole different way, with it’s catchy up-beat chorus finding itself reverberating around the venue from the lungs of everyone in the audience along with Stephanie. Along with those two powerhouse tracks, Stephanie’s set list was packed with many incredible songs with strong meanings behind them, and also featured a brilliant cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’.
After Stephanie Rainey, it was time for Little Hours. The County Donegal duo John Doherty (Piano and Lead Singing) and Ryan Mc Closkey (Guitar and Backing Vocals) took to the stage, accompanied by the members of their live band (Identities of which are unknown to me). The stage certainly featured an abundance of charisma that evening, as where Stephanie left off, the duo were quick to pick up the mantle and keep the entertainment level high, and looked to be having a very fun time of it all. It’s no surprise the duo has been on a tremendous upward trajectory to the upper echelon of Irish indie artists, as their performance showcased their brilliant talents quite clearly. As the lead singer, John has an amazing singing voice (Most recently the one and only Elton John himself has commended John’s singing voice highly) and Ryan’s backing vocals harmonize with his perfectly. Their songs had great energy and pacing, and the set list seemed to be perfectly crafted to maximize their impact on the evening. Although much of their set was new to me regardless having not heard of them before, it was apparent that with the small sample size of tracks released to the public thus far that they were playing a lot of new music, hinting at great things to come in the future. Little Hours have been constantly reaching new heights at an unprecedented rate this year and previous years. They had a massively successful Ireland tour this year, of which this show was a part, and upon completion of it they immediately launched into the summer circuit, playing a lot of international gigs and festivals. While the band is likely putting in work towards a debut album, their most recent release ‘How Could I Love You’ is certainly a good indication that they are looking to raise the bar further and further with every step they take. The track has been getting a lot of radio time, and has even been featured by Elton John on his Rocket Hour, which is where he is quoted above commending John’s singing voice. All in all it was a fantastic evening and my Spotify listening afterwards featured some new additions for sure. Much to my dismay, there did not seem to be merch selling on the evening as far as I could see, so I guess I have to leave it at th-
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Nearly two weeks after the cork show, I caught wind on social media that their performances in Cork did not finish there on the tour. In fact, they were due to hit West Cork in the venue De Barra’s in Clonakilty (Remember Picture This and Orla Gartland? That’s the one!) and they were bringing Stephanie Rainey to this one aswell. No sooner had I read that than I had purchased a ticket and roped my mate John into a new plan for the weekend. I had extremely enjoyed both artists very much, and I was very much excited to live the experience all over again. And so on April 9th, I set forth to enjoy another evening of music, with a more experienced ear for what I was in for this time. What I think is great about it all, is that even though it was the same artists, same tour, no two performances are ever the same and it was a fresh, new experience with new things to take away from it. Naturally, Stephanie Rainey set things off for the evening, putting in another exceptional performance. Little Hours followed suit with their set, and then the evening produced a new twist that had not been present in the Cyprus Avenue performance. The night before this show, Little Hours and Stephanie Rainey and her band members had been hanging out and jamming in their room until all hours of the night, and at 5 AM they had very quickly rehearsed a song to perform together and brought it to the show that night, the lot of them (8 in total, I believe) cramming the tiny stage to belt out a track together which went down a right treat.
And after all was finished, praise the merch-lawd this time there was a Merch table! I quickly made my way over and naturally I bought everything there was to get. I nabbed myself a Little Hours T-Shirt, their debut self-titled 4 track EP from 2014, and Stephanie Rainey’s ‘100 Like Me’ CD which had ‘Please Don’t Go’ and two versions of ‘100 Like Me’ (Normal and Acoustic) on it. This time I also stuck around for a little bit and I was able to meet Stephanie, Gary and Sarah and have a quick chat with them. They were all lovely people to meet and Stephanie signed my CD for me. I also got to get a picture with them, and that led to a rather interesting little occurrence of it’s own. Typical of West Cork I tell you, that when we handed my phone to a fellow to take a picture of the group of us, he first turned it to selfie mode and captured a damn good selfie before turning it back and photographing us. I still do not know who the gentleman was, but to this day his majestic selfie lives on. That’s all for this one, I’ll be back with the second in this triple-sequence of blog posts (And you’ll see then what the common thread is between them!) this Thursday at the usual time of 5 PM! And remember, keep on Merchin’.