The Electronic Folk Collective
If you’re someone who has read my blog before, you should be pretty familiar with the name Sarah-Beth by now, named as one of my top five One’s to Watch for 2018 at the start of the year, she’s gone from strength to strength and backed up my faith in her already and we’re only half way through the calendar year. Naturally when I heard that she was being hosted at The Roundy on June 28th by The Electronic Folk and launching her new single (more on that later on), I was all over it from the jump and cleared my schedule for that day.
So who are The Electronic Folk? The Electronic Folk is pretty much what it sounds like, a collective of musicians within the genre of Electro-Folk banding together to strengthen each others opportunities in a scene where it’s often hard to get playing time in the public eye. Established roughly two years ago, they’ve put a lot of work in to get to where they are now, including throwing monthly gigs at The Long Valley Bar in Cork and collaborating with each other musically. They’ve recently secured a new monthly residency for themselves in The Roundy which began with a show back in May and continued with this one now. As well as hosting Sarah-Beth’s evening, they played the support slot as a collective made up of original founder Simon MacHale, HYPNOTYST and Kevin J. Power.
Kicking things off was Kevin J. Power, formerly operating under the moniker Circuits Of Heaven. Firing away with just his Acoustic Guitar and his voice, he started us into the musical journey we would be carried through for the rest of the evening. Besides creating his own music, it’s of note that he also owns a Record label called ‘Inner Chapter’ with which he does Music Production and Sound Design. You can find out more about the label at the website, link here. Interestingly throughout the night during pauses from the live music, there was music playing over the system which was all as-yet unreleased music from various artists set to release music under his label soon which was great to get a sneak preview like that. For parts of his set he was accompanied by Simon MacHale on keys/synth and vocals. On the evening he was selling copies of his CD ‘Songs For No-One’ released last year under his Circuits of Heaven alias, and I was enticed from his set to go and purchase it for myself.
After Kevin was finished, Simon was up next with a few of his songs. Of particular note that I caught were ‘Whatever It Is’ which he introduced as just about the closest thing to a love song that he has. Further in the set he’s rejoined by Kevin for ‘Quiet Young Readhead’, a lovely song about Simon’s own father. All in all he played a fantastic set and I was quick to pickup his album ‘Let Down Those Old Defences’ to join my collection from the night. The album features a cool double fold case with some lovely illustrations and was quick to find it’s way to my CD player for a listen, brilliant piece of music and features the second song from above among the tracklist.
No sooner had Simon stepped off the stage to let HYPNOTYST up was he reminded that he was actually joining HYPNOTYST for his first two songs for vocals and 180’d on himself to go right back up. Wearing a cool shirt with an astronaut cat on it, which I thought to dub Astro-Kitty once I saw it, HYPNOTYST got to work behind the keys/synth showing us a heavier emphasis on the Electro part of Electro-Folk. He’s a pleasure to watch in action as he truly seems to get lost in the music and has great fun doing what he’s doing, jamming away to the music that he’s producing when he’s up there, occasionally becoming an actual human blur with his motions.
Without further ado it was time for the main act of the evening to follow on from the lads, Sarah-Beth. In what was to be my approximately 15th show seeing Sarah-Beth live now, I’m finding myself to be running out of adjectives to describe her musical brilliance, so let’s just crack on and see what we come up with. She kicks us off with an old song and staple of her set, ‘Houston’, setting the pace nicely going forwards. Immediately following it is a general fan favourite, ‘Easy On The Eyes’, forgoing the usual intro and jokingly applying the meaning of the song to her bassist Lee Kennedy. Given his irresistible Bass-Face, I’m inclined to agree with this new found understanding of the songs premise.
Interestingly with Sarah-Beth no two shows are ever truly alike, from a change-able set of songs to suit the intent of the evening in question, to the progression her and the band are continuously making as they strive to better themselves each and every time they perform. It’s nice to be able to pick up on some parts of their progression through the slight alterations and subtle rewrites some songs have undergone, they’re passionate and let that shine onto their work ethic. It’s been about two months since the last Sarah-Beth viewing at this point and her set features a couple new gems such as ‘Heart On The Left’ which she shares as being sort of her mantra on life.
As we reach the halfway point of the evening they break out the song of the moment, her newly released single ‘Let Me In’. I’ve found much enjoyment hearing this song played live since the beginning and am so happy it’s now out in the world for me to enjoy at my leisure. As always it features the two-punch duo of the intense and catchy instrumental that draws the listener in, with the lyrical song-writing and incredible vocal delivery that adds so much depth to the music and never fails to blow me away time and again.
It’s important to note that despite being inside we’re in the midst of the sweltering hot weather that has been
plaguing blessing us as of late and thus the conditions have everyone melting a bit, no less those on stage who actually have to put in some effort in the warmth. When Guitarist Aaron O Sullivan wipes the beads of sweat away and glances down to his set-list, mumbling ‘That’s fitting right now’ with a grin, there’s only one song he could be looking at which is of course ‘Heatfire’. This song notably is one Aaron has priorly expressed an extra level of joy as one of his favourites to play in their set.
A couple songs later we approach the end portion of the set and the band departs the stage leaving just Sarah-Beth on stage which typically means we’re going to experience the side of her music displayed on her EP ‘Your Muse’. We’re treated to songs ‘Little Girl’ and ‘Love Or Lust’, with drummer Paul Brennan and bassist Lee Kennedy making a timely return to the stage after those to finish out with the song ‘Your Muse’. Et voila, an amazing gig concludes… Almost. Unprepared for the calls of encore and one more tune, the band huddle together and fittingly decide to play ‘Let Me In’ again for the evening that’s in it. After a brief scramble to locate guitarist Aaron who has assumed his role is finished 3 songs ago and started relaxing in the sun outside the premises, he makes his return to the stage and goes through the motions of plugging things in, turning things on and away we go for one last blast. Given the nature of Sarah-Beth’s sets, plus the inclusion of further new music on this evening, there’s always going to be songs that don’t make the cut at certain gigs. On this occasion most notably not making the cut are ‘Masterpiece’ and the bizarrely named but oft well-received ‘Protein Baby’.
It was another fantastic night of music from start to finish, I look forward to the next 15 Sarah-Beth shows, and I really enjoyed the new discovery for myself with The Electronic Folk. Their next residency gig at The Roundy will take place on August 16th, keep an eye on their page for further info on that. For all the latest in TMP updates, tid-bits and postings that don’t make blog posts, make sure you like and follow The Merch Perch on Facebook, and feel free to interact or give the blog post a share if you liked it. Fancy contributing with your own blog post like my friend Darragh with the Ed Sheeran Blog Post recently or work together with me on something? Read about that here and contact me! As always folks, keep on Merchin’!