Niamh Farrell & The Norm
My first brush with the name HamsandwicH came in mid to late 2017 (And somehow no earlier, I’m shocked at how much I’ve missed over the years), when I started to see their gig at Triskel Christchurch in December being promoted. I read the accompanying review with intrigue as it had caught my eye at the time. Further down the line I saw musician James OR posting on Facebook with further endorsement of their latest single ‘Bodies’ that had just been released at the time. I tend to trust James OR when it comes to his musical tastes as he has never steered me wrong so far, and I checked out the music video which impressed me greatly. That was about all the convincing I required, and I picked up my ticket to go see the Sambo put on their show at the Christchurch in mid December.
In the meantime, James OR revealed Niamh Farrell of HamsandwicH to be a guest on his wonderful podcast The Norm. I love James’s podcasts and follow every release on it when I have the time, so this was naturally no exception. I got proper cosied up with blankets and tea on a cold evening after it’s release and gave it a good aul’ listen through. I’ve enjoyed every conversation James has had on the pod so far, both before and after Niamh, but I can assuredly say this one was personally my favourite to date. One of the most lovely and heartwarming conversations I have had the pleasure to listen to, Niamh being such a genuine and brilliant character throughout their chat. Definitely recommend you give that a listen here and check out some of the other conversations there if you enjoy this one.
Joe O Leary
Getting to the matter of the show itself, HamsandwicH brought along Joe O Leary to support them on the evening. Joe is considered a legend in the Cork music scene, having fronted the band ‘FRED’ a few years back. I’m not personally aware of much more beyond that, though there’s undoubtedly many a Cork music head who look up to this fellow in awe. Chances are in my youthful days following Cork band Suede Halo around that I probably did come across FRED playing once or twice, though I was much more blissfully ignorant of the majority of the music scene back then. Besides his history with FRED, Joe runs one of West Cork’s most iconic pubs/venues, Levis’s of Ballydehob. Joe mused that these days he is much more used to putting artists and bands onto his own stage as opposed to playing for the crowd himself, though nonetheless he put on a great solo set with his Acoustic Guitar. A solid start to the evening, so it was.
The first thing that struck me from the intro of the HamsandwicH live band was I had been unaware just how many members make up one of their live performances. Band member after band member after band member flooded out onto the stage to their positions and instruments galore, and off we were. Church settings such as this one usually are a great enabler for artists and bands to perform a song or two down in the middle of the aisle, and this was no exception. Opting to bring it out right off the bat, a few of the band came down to the aisle and played ‘Floors’ right next to where I sat. Interestingly it also transpired that James OR was involved on the night, not as a band member but as their guitar tech. Fella can do it all sure, fair props to him.
Celebrating their birthday on the night in question was Podge McNamee, the other half of the two punch duo at the front of the band with Niamh Farrell. Their vocal harmonies across the board, especially between Niamh and Podge, were absolutely phenomenal. They boasted a strong set list that featured a diverse mix of songs from their three studio albums thus far, most notably featuring many songs off the albums ‘White Fox’ and ‘Stories From The Surface’. The night wasn’t without a tease of music to come on the horizon either, as a few songs into the set they debuted a song called ‘Louder’. The song featured a lot of feel good riffs and is an exciting prospect of what to look forward to.
The Craic on the stage throughout the evening was mighty, especially from the amazing character that is Podge, with his quips and his antics. The laughter, the smiles, the pure joy of playing that was evident on all their faces continued to showcase their genuine love of doing what they do. I also gotta give props to Niamh for best instrumental performance of 2017. Despite spending the majority of the evening dancing and singing, her one stint at playing an instrument was gold. Producing a bottle of Buckfast, taking a swig for good luck (Certainly not for the taste, given her reaction directly after), and then tapping it rhythmically with a drum stick. A remarkably effective instrument for what it’s worth, and recyclable too as Podge was quick to display once she had finished using it for musical effect. I must say overall it was an especially fun night of awesome music and antics combined.
With HamsandwicH having been around for quite some time before me finally coming across them for myself, there was much to catch up on regarding their discography over at the Merch table. My eyes immediately fell upon the Deluxe edition vinyl for ‘Stories From the Surface’, and I definitely had to have that, I like me some coloured vinyl. I combined that with a pickup of their album ‘Carry the Meek’ also on vinyl, and finally the album ‘White Fox’ on CD. A solid haul indeed, next on the agenda was to meet Niamh and Podge and have them sign the Deluxe vinyl to complete the evening. I got to have a cool chat with Podge, and I must’ve made an impression because he was really cool in signing the album, calling me a ‘Rare breed of music fan’ and saying to ‘Keep on rocking like a demented rocking chair’. I like it. I also got to meet Niamh and get her to sign the vinyl, with both artists being very genuine and down to earth to chat to. That is about it for this post folks, until next time. And remember, keep on Merchin’!