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.