Welcome back! We’re kicking this one off with a familiar name from last blog post, none other than Stephanie Rainey! Ever since those 2 gigs I went to, I was for sure looking forward to the next opportunity that may arise to witness such magic again. I was not kept waiting long for news to emerge of her next show, as she announced across social medias that she would be supporting Dan Owen in Cyprus Avenue on May 14th. My mind had just long enough to ask ‘Who’s Dan Owen?’ before I had already pressed process payment on the purchase of a ticket. I was still living and working in the countryside of West Cork at the time so I had to go through the motions of getting work off and arranging travel and accommodation and then all was set.
Hailing from Shrewsbury in the UK, a brief look into Dan before the gig showed that he is an impressive rising talent with an incredible singing voice and story telling ability beyond his years. I went to check out his tracks on Spotify and ended up constantly listening to them over and over cause they were just that good. His song ‘Made To Love You’ is thus far his biggest achievement, a heart-rending track based on a friend he supported that was suffering in an abusive relationship, gaining over 7 and a half million streams on Spotify alone (Wowsers, catch the awesome YouTube video to the track here). Needless to say after my little discovery session, I was more than a little bit excited to see the real deal.
In typical me fashion, I ended up outside the doors far too early, and while waiting around for time to get it’s merry ass on the move, caught Stephanie heading into the venue and said a quick hello and good luck before she went in. Inside I was greeted by an entirely different atmosphere than the gig I’d been at in the same venue nearly two months prior, with an intimate setting of tables and lit-candles glowing around the room in front of the stage. I nabbed a seat at a table right up the front and waited for the evening to carry itself forward. This particular Stephanie Rainey performance was one with a difference, as there was an absence on the stage of percussionist Gary Keane, leaving Sarah Power on keys and Stephanie with her acoustic guitar to play on the evening. They carried the show beautifully with the slightly stripped back sound which was quite befitting of the intimate atmosphere in the venue. At the time of this performance, Stephanie had also just released brand new single ‘Nothing Of You Left To Love’, an upbeat powerhouse of a love song through which her song writing prowess shone through as usual. (You know you want to check that one out here). All in all, it was another amazing set of a high caliber I’d come to expect and admire by this point.
After that, it was time for Dan Owen. The solitary figure on the stage, no band to back him up, and brandishing a black acoustic guitar with as much of a story to tell on it’s surface as the stories it’s strings would soon be bringing to life. I’d been told that Dan was well known for his eccentric and energetic style of playing that oft led to broken strings, and the chipped paintwork and scratch lines provided quite the aesthetic image of this. Despite his solitary disposition on the stage, Dan played fervently with heart and soul, putting on an astounding display of raw musical talent being unleashed. The power in his vocals was absolutely astonishing as he went from strength to strength through an impressive playlist. The song with which he finished the evening was the perfect choice of a single song that could encompass every bit of his performance the whole evening, a track by the name of ‘Little Red Rooster’. The song also simply could not have come at any other point in the evening, as I suspect there would be no words left in the lungs or energy in the limbs remaining afterwards to continue on. Already an intensely energetic musician throughout the night, Dan managed to up the scale to a new setting with a spectacle of a performance that is breathtaking to experience live. Along with his acoustic guitar, Dan’s arsenal of musical devices included a pad at his feet that he’d stamp on to produce a drum sound, and a harmonica on a holder wrapped around his neck. To perform Little Red Rooster, he sits upon his stool, and while singing, uses all of these tools at once in epic fashion, upping the speed continuously to a raucous climax. There is a video of him performing this live that can be found here to give a taste of what it’s like.
Now of course, where would we be without a good ol’ Merch table? I was certainly glad to find there was an ample selection to choose from. Having not just one, but two shirts on sale, aswell as a CD and a wristband, I was faced with a conundrum of what option to buy. But it’s me, so there was naturally only one choice to make in the end. And so the familiar words were spoke ‘I’ll take one of everything, cheers’. Dan’s salesman at the table looked at me perplexed, but of course made the sale. Once more I had the opportunity to meet and chat to Stephanie and Sarah, and likewise I got to meet Dan and chat and get a photo and some stuff signed by him. Oh and Dan, if you’re reading this, get your ass back to Ireland, I along with many others I see commenting on your social medias certainly seem to agree that it must occur again! That’s all for now folks, catch me back here on Monday 21st with the 3rd in this sequence of blog posts, it’s an awesome one I assure you. And remember, keep on Merchin’.