Last week I was delighted to present to you an interview I held with the wonderful James OR, which you can read here, in which the topic at hand largely focused on his new single ‘An Attempt At Momentum’. The single has since successfully launched out into the world and is making the rounds through radio plays and online streaming services. There is also an amazing music video accompaniment to the song, featuring the Directorial debut of Playwrite and Musician Jess Leen, filmed by Robin Guiton and starring Darragh Byrne who passionately portrays his role in the video to perfection. You couldn’t ask for a better team of individuals coming together and combining their talents to capture a visual befitting of the beautiful song that is An Attempt At Momentum, so do check that out below.
You can catch James OR live with his full band playing this song and many others that he has at his disposal on May 3rd in Coughlan’s Live, for which you can get tickets here. Joining James on the evening as support act is none other than Chris Ward who promises to put on a wowing performance of his own before James takes to the stage. If you are further afield Geographically, you may perhaps find solace in the fact that James OR will be having a Single launch show in London as well, at The Islington on May 30th, support act to be announced.
Alright folks, got something a little different for you today! I recently had the opportunity to catch the fabulous artist James OR for a conversation about some of the things that he’s got coming up and had going on for himself. We cover his brand new single ‘An Attempt at Momentum’, and I must say I’ve heard him perform this a few times live, mostly Acoustic, and it was already a wonderful song, but it has emerged in the recorded version like a Caterpillar post-cocoon as this truly magnificent piece of art. I’m blown away by the leaps and bounds the track has taken to reach it’s final form. Elsewhere in the conversation we talk about the accompanying music video directed by Jess Leen, working on his debut album with Christian Best in Monique Studios, and his upcoming headline show in Coughlan’s Live on May 3rd (Grab tickets here!) among other things, so read all about it below! Keep an eye out for the single dropping on Friday as well, I’ll be posting it here on the page once it releases.
So to kick us off, your new single An Attempt at Momentum is out on April 26th, can you give us an introduction to what the song is about?
James OR: It’s about sort of meeting someone who you haven’t seen in a while, who you care a lot about and you know you’re gonna miss again when they’re gone, but you’re not gonna see them again for another while. It’s just getting that thing off your chest, that you’ve been thinking about for a while, and you’re just picking your moments to get it off your chest – Cause I went to an Elbow gig about 3-4 years ago and Guy Garvey said the two things you should never do when you’re about to meet someone who you haven’t seen in a while and you’re not gonna see again for another while, is you should never meet them at night and you should never meet them over alcohol. And so AAAM is about the time I did both of those things.
Is there plans for a music video release to accompany the upcoming single?
J: Yeah the music video is coming out on the release day, April 26th. I worked with Jess Leen and Robin Guiton on it. They put together this really nice concept and they went ahead and shot it. I got the finished video back last week and I really love it, I think it really sums up the message behind the song really well. The main actor is called Darragh Byrne and he is just fabulous in it, he’s incredible. He had just on the day of filming asked Jess ‘does this video require a lot of facial expressions’ and she was like ‘yeah it definitely does!’, and he said ‘great well I’m just after doing a class on mime, so I’m gonna use all the stuff that I’ve learned in this video’. So that’s what you’re seeing, this really cool expressive appeal that I can’t wait to show people
It must have been great to have such a creative mind in Jess involved, a fabulous Playwrite, Musician and Director too…
J: Yeah, I really love Jess’s stuff, she really is one of my favourite writers. I saw one of her plays Waiting For WiFi back in January 2018, and I just thought it was such a spectacular piece of work. So when I was thinking about who I’d approach to do the music video she kinda seemed the most natural choice, cause I love her sense of humour, and I love how witty her writing is. So I’m like it would be so great if I could get that witiness and that cleverness across in a music video. So yeah it was magic to have her on board and she actually connected me with Robin who shot and edited the whole video. It seems now if you’re looking at a music video in Cork, Robin’s name is attached to it. You’ll be watching a music video and be like ‘Ah it’s by Robin ok’, he’s just got this really clear shooting style and really great way of capturing images and really just sharpening them up and making them really exciting to watch.
How did it feel to close the book on your debut project Cold Open with the final music video for Safe & Sound last year?
J: Good question, it was really good fun because Safe & Sound was put out I think a year and a half after Cold Open came out, and it was nice to do something different with those songs. We’d done the music video for ‘The Fear’ and we were getting ready to record some new songs, and then myself and Dave Lyons got chatting and we were just like yeah look I mean there’s this track here and Dave had just started his company Speire so he was looking for projects to work on. He approached me and said look how about we make this music video, and originally it was a very straightforward idea of maybe just me singing to the camera. When we looked over the first shots we were really happy with it but we thought maybe it just needed a little bit more, and over the course of a day or so we started teasing out this idea for a little story. It was this really enjoyable process because we didn’t have an Actor on board and it was basically just gonna be me, it was nice and it was really good fun. I think it was the best way to close Cold Open because Cold Open gave me a lot of opportunities to bring my music to new places and to new people. So it was nice that we got to go back to it so long after the EP itself had come out and so close to when we were recording new music, it felt like a very natural conclusion and felt like we were giving it a proper send off.
I understand that you spent some time in the lovely Monique Studios with Christian Best, working towards your first album All The Beds We’ve Been In, how’s that process been for you?
J: Wonderful. I really love working with Christian, he’s got such a great way with people and such a great way with… I mean, saying he has a great way with music is definitely underselling him, he’s got a great ear for how a song should sound. He seems to be able to do this across the board which is obviously a mark of a great producer, I’ve seen so many other acts come out of his studio and their music sounds stronger for him having been a part of it. I can definitely say that was the case with me, cause when we went in to record the tracks, we worked very hard to get them to where they were but Christian definitely helped us to sort of… I suppose he helped to mature the songs a little bit, and he helped to bring all the songs to their final shape which was really nice. There’s just such a great atmosphere down there, there’s magic in that room that he has brought to it, and there’s a reason why people want to go down to him so much and why people wanna work with him. So he had done Cold Open, he’d actually just recorded the tracks for Cold Open, whereas this time I was really excited when he agreed to come on and produce the album. He really does just get the mood of each song and he gets the mood of the musicians he’s working with as well. He knows when to speed the day up and when to slow it down, and that was a really cool process to watch and a cool process to be a part of. I really loved it.
You’ve been living in London for about a year or so now, have you picked up and new insights or perspectives on your approach as an artist from being over there?
J: That’s a really insightful question. I mean I wouldn’t say I learned anything new as such, because I came out in the Cork music scene, and the Cork music scene is somewhere you can really learn a lot from. So when I was going over to London I think London is probably more hyperactive. There’s a lot going on there and it’s a much more communal music scene than I think it gets given credit for. There’s a very relaxed sort of confident vibe about musicians there in that they really wanna hear new music from their peers, and they’re also quite content with what they’re doing. It’s very much a you do you attitude, it’s very much like ‘that’s cool you’re doing that man, and I’m doing this over here’. Because it’s such a big city and there’s so much going on, so far it hasn’t felt like jarring, it’s actually felt like a really nice to place to be in and a really nice place to make music.
Your homecoming show at Coughlan’s is coming up on May 3rd and it’s looking on track to be a sell out, how much does this show mean to you?
J: Coughlan’s means a lot to me, it’s such a beautiful room and I’ve never had anything but great experiences in there. I think coming back to play in Cork and bringing a single back to Cork means an awful lot as well, and getting to do it in a room like Coughlan’s is very much the icing on the cake. It means a lot to be playing a full band show again, which we haven’t done in Ireland in a while, just over a year and Coughlan’s was the last Irish show we did. It feels exciting, it feels like something is starting again. It’s kinda that feeling when you get started in a new process and you’re building back up that momentum that you need as an independent musician to keep going and make an impact. So the Coughlan’s gig is a week after the single is released, so I’m also looking forward to the week before Coughlan’s. We’re gonna be practicing and we’re gonna be putting the songs and the set together. It means a lot as well that we get to play our music to a room full of people again I think that’s gonna be really great.
What do you think makes Coughlan’s a venue that so many aspire to play in, where you see so many calibre’s of artists choose to play there?
J: I think it’s the people that run it to be honest. I think they have a very set idea on what they want the venue to be, and from what I’ve seen it’s just such a welcoming venue. You come in there and you play and the funny thing about Coughlan’s is like – Obviously the first few gigs I did there was as a support act to some people, and when you’re a support act it can go one of two ways. You can be playing to a room of people and they can just be y’know at the bar getting their drinks or getting ready for the main act who, to be fair that’s who they’re there to see, or you can have a really attentive crowd. With Coughlan’s any gig I’ve ever played there the crowd has been so attentive, and I think that’s because the room demands it of the audience. It’s very much like if you don’t want to sit and listen to the music, then you can go outside to the beer garden or the bar, but this place here is for music. This is a place for people to appreciate art and new performers and have an evening of enjoyment through music. I think that comes from a certain respect that the venue has built up for itself. People don’t go into Coughlan’s and stand and talk while an act is playing, they realize you know we’re here, we’re listening to music now we’re not here for a night out of chatting. It’s never forced on you, it’s just kinda like, it’s like when you go into a church, you don’t know why you’re supposed to be quiet in a church, you just know you are. People sort of observe that, I think it just has that weightiness and that authenticity to it, just that organic feeling that just makes everyone go yeah I’m in Coughlan’s and I wanna see some music. And you’re right up in the face of the musicians as well so like it’s hard for you to stand at the edge of the stage and talk over them, you will feel the heat of their stares pretty quickly!
So looking further forward beyond Coughlan’s, you’ve just been announced for Indiependence music festival once again this year, is this perhaps the first of a few announcements from the festival circuit?
J: Yeah, the plan is to tour the UK and Ireland throughout May-July this year, and that will include a few festivals as well. There’ll be more announcements to come, Indiependence is always a very special one because I’ve been involved in the festival in some capacity for a long time. The feeling of getting asked back, or knowing you have a slot and that’s where you’ll be for the August bank holiday weekend, it never loses it’s shine. Every year at the start of the year when I’m putting stuff in my calendar, like what do I need to put aside, where am I gonna be at certain weekends of the year, one of the first weekends that gets blocked off is Indiependence weekend. To be able to go back and to play, especially with new music and new releases is really exciting.
To wrap this up, you posted on Facebook that you’ve signed off on the artwork for your next 3 singles, after AAAM when are you aiming to put out your next song?
J: The next single should be out just before Indiependence, the second last weekend in July. The next one a few months after that. Don’t tie me to that date but it’s gonna just a few months after AAAM, the only reason we wouldn’t release a single is I suppose if we’re still working at getting AAAM out there. But the plans are that we have the next 2 singles after AAAM kinda ready to go, and then the plan then is to release the full album sometime next year. I love the tracks on the album, I just think my music has grown a little bit since we recorded the original tracks and so I think there will be a few new additions to what is going to be ‘All The Beds We’ve Been In’. The next few months are gonna be focused on showing people what we’ve done and then bringing it out in a fuller form in 2020 then.
Howya folks, your friendly neighbourhood procrastinator-blogger here, I’ve wasted enough time not writing til now so let’s skip the explanations and just get straight to talking about some crazy events, how about that? What better opportunity to return to the keyboard than to recount an insane evening in Belfast being swept away by Brand New Friend. For those unaware, Brand New Friend’s name has graced this blog once before, back when I finally saw Snow Patrol for my first time last year and made the epic side discovery of this very talented band. Given our positions at polar opposite points of this grand aul’ Country, rare is the opportunity with which our musical paths cross and I get to witness BNF rock out, though I have had a couple chances to do so and tide me over each time for the next fix. I managed to catch their set at Indiependence Festival at the end of the summer, and then once more they came down to Cork in December where they would play support to Ash at Cyprus Avenue – A gig for which I bought my ticket to see Brand New Friend – Ash being a mere bonus as they put on a helluva show too.
These fleeting opportunities to see the band were like morsels of food to my insatiable appetite, before long I would need something of more substance to feast upon and have my fill. When Brand New Friend announced a 3 day billing in January at a venue in Belfast called ‘The American Bar’, it occurred to me on closer inspection that the tail end of the gig run landed on a Saturday and there was a slight possibility that I could manage a show around my rota. It took a while after having that notion to confirm I could start making a mad plan, as I had to wait and see if the rota gods would be in my favour when my hours were dished out. When it came through that January 26th was aaaallll clear, my money ran out of my account at an alarming rate – Gig ticket, one bus, two bus, three bus and four, and finally a bed at a Hostel were booked super quick. And thus the mad plan was underway and the rest of January was an intense waiting game. Before long, I even had a travelling companion joining in on this conquest – My trusty music Compadre Kathryn was up for the journey from Limerick to have an awesome night in Belfast.
The American Bar
January 26th couldn’t come quick enough, but at last the wait was over and the fateful day was upon us. An early rise in Cork set the tone for the day of travel ahead, beginning with a 3 hour bus journey to Dublin. Earphones in – Spotify up – ‘Seatbelts for Aeroplanes’ queued… and queued again another couple times as I had a lot of time on my hands. “Why Are You So Tired?”, cry out Lauren and Taylor in my ears, to which I can only respond that I was silly and stayed up late the night before and this journey was loooong, but alas not very accommodating to sleeping through it. A rendezvous with Kathryn in Dublin and no sooner was I off one bus, were we hopping on another with Belfast as the final destination, rounding out nearly 6 hours of travel. Wild Youth’s new EP ‘The Last Goodbye’ provided the soundtrack to this portion of the journey, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices being made to make the spectacular Belfast mission happen – With Wild Youth playing Dublin that very same evening.
We touchdown in Belfast, and after a few errands, we’re on our way to The American Bar. We hit the venue at pretty much the same moment that Brand New Friend arrive to set-up, a collision of hugs and greetings taking place at the door. Some behind the scenes snooping and chilling, and a large Apache pizza later, we’re stood front and center and the night is set to kick off, with the support Bed Manager taking to the stage. Bed Manager is Belfast duo Jake Harris on Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, and Sam Green on Electric Guitar, Keys & Vocals.
By all accounts a quieter and more contained affair than what the evening is culminating towards, Bed Manager give us a sound roughly rooted in Alternative/Folk. I find myself identifying quite strongly on an emotional level with their music from the early onset, reminded somewhat of French artist Syd Matters, whose songs ‘Obstacles’ and ‘To All Of You’ gained millions of new listeners, myself included, for their use in the soundtrack of the game ‘Life is Strange’ many years after the band itself had ceased to produce music. Likewise, much of what Bed Manager played to us wouldn’t be out of place in the emotional landscape of the LIS soundtrack. BM captivated our attention and drew us in close, with Jake’s melodic plucking of the Acoustic combining exquisitely with Sam’s guitar and keys across their repertoire of songs.
Sensing an unasked question lingering in the air, Sam spoke up between songs to clarify that despite Jake being BNF’s drummer Luke Harris’s brother, it was of course not that familial connection which had earned them the support slot. Instead, it was the fact that Sam himself was sleeping with BNF frontman Taylor that contributed to why they were playing before us now. The lads rounded out their set by inviting up a fellow musician to bash the drums a little for a somewhat more upbeat number, the fellow looking every bit the deer in the headlights who potentially never knew he was playing this evening. Nonetheless he got up there, shimmied his way behind the drumkit in the alcove in the corner, and took the set home with the lads to finish it off. I definitely recommend checking out some tunes from Bed Manager on their soundcloud page linked below.
Top 1 Favourite Gig Moments
And with that, there was only one thing more on the agenda and that was to rock the F out. The crowd in the small room of the American Bar packed up in eager anticipation for the main attraction of the evening, with a collective roaring and cheering confirming that our stars were making their way through to the stage. They kick straight off with a crowd favourite in the form of ‘Mediocre at Best’, getting us pumped up off the bat for what was for sure going to be a smashing show. They slam out tune after tune, a mixed bag of album tracks and set-list regulars, with throwbacks to their Soundcloud demo’s era intertwined within, topped off with a new track or two as yet unheard. The sheer joy the band have when performing their music can be read clear as day and translates to an infectious positive energy upon everyone who witnesses it. Taylor can’t thank everyone who’s come along enough, stopping after every other song to pour his heart out in gratitude, combined with the dropping of many sharp quips before returning to rocking the stage.
Everyone on stage is digging deep and giving an extra 110% of their entire being to putting on the best possible show. Lauren’s busting moves to the left of the stage while she sings and lays down the keys, Taylor is putting in a wild performance with the full vocal capacity his lungs can provide channeled into his microphone, even drummer Luke can’t hide the smiles from cracking through his oft expressionless facade (Though he manages to escape it being caught on camera due to no shot coming out clean), and finally bassist Aaron is a picture of total delight, feeding off the crowd’s energy. Speaking of Aaron, he becomes the man of the evening as Taylor piles praise upon the wielder of the funk stick, leading the crowd into uproarious chants of ‘AARON! AARON! AARON!’, a feat repeated much throughout the remainder of the evening.
BNF round out the main set in a sweat inducing haze with a few ultra energized anthems including my favourite ‘Girl’, and the crowd needs no encouraging to let loose and go absolutely crazy to the final moments. The band departs the stage, but of course that is not the end of it all. Letting the air linger with the ‘One more tune’ chants in their absense, they re-emerge and we’re straight back to business. Surely running on reserves after such an intense set, they didn’t let that show and brought the insanity back out immediately with penultimate song ‘Your Friends Hate Me’. This left us with only one natural conclusion to the gig and that was of course the banger ‘I Was An Astronaut’ off the album, which had just become their latest single with a brand new music video released in the lead-up to these headline shows. The already hectic action steps up even more at this point, with Sam from Bed Manager surfing atop the crowd. This is when my favourite ever gig moment happens, when unexpectedly Aaron steps down from the stage in front of me. Channeling the songs namesake perhaps thinking he’s in outer space from the adrenaline high, he relinquishes control of his body to the forces of Gravity, falling backwards into my arms where I hold him up as he plays the song through its final moments. As the final notes fade away, the crowd swallows him into their depths and just before he disappears altogether I gently rescued his bass from his outstretched hand and return it safely to the stage.
Merch & Mystery
And so the show was over and the band briefly retire away to freshen up. I already have one of Band’s shirts from the Ash gig in December, but I forgot to bring a spare shirt and the clever bastards had entertained us to the point where a change of shirts was a necessity, so of course I find myself people picking out a new shirt from the merch table in an alternative design and adding it to my collection. Then Taylor pops out and approaches to hug me, but I signal him to stop. I had immediately noticed the fresh shirt he was wearing had Drake & Josh on the front and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity not to pass up. I shout “HUG ME BROOOTHAAA” like the iconic step Brothers of television nostalgia and then we shared a hug. The next while is spent running around chatting to members of the band and Taylor & Lauren’s Dad, getting my set list signed, and getting photos taken, and as ever they are the most wonderfully friendly and wholesome bunch who emanate a super welcoming vibe.
Before I finish, step a little closer and listen carefully while I indulge in telling a little secret. Today might seem like any other day upon which a blog post could fall on (Besides my super inactivity, my bad about that again), but it is in fact very much intentionally planned that this post would come out today (Saturday, February 9th). See, the interesting thing about today is as I put the finishing touches into the writing of this post, I may be in Cork, but quite shortly and indeed before this blog post is out, I shall be setting down in Manchester. Why am I in Manchester? Well a while ago a highly established league in UK Battle Rap (Another thing I follow with much interest) called Premier Battles announced an event taking place here today featuring some top names performing, including a couple Irish battlers from back home. I made my plans to fly over, and then completely by coincidence didn’t Brand New Friend go and announce an intense run of shows touring the UK with Sean McGowan, and where else would they be on February 9th but the Star and Garter in, you guessed it, Manchester. The events don’t even overlap, with plenty of time between them it’s simply a no brainer. The kicker is I have not told Brand New Friend anything about this so my attendance today has been a surprise (I hope) until now! Yay for more awesomeness, thats all for now folks, stay tuned for more posts from The Merch Perch that hopefully don’t take 6 month gaps to come out. Keep on Merchin’!
Alas, once against we find ourselves back here with Garageland Ireland being the focal point of attention. After an awesome gig in April, time seems to have flown far too quickly altogether, though if that served to bring their return to Crane Lane for the summer edition of the Garage Gigs along all the sooner then I can’t be complaining. If you’ve not been following the work of Garageland, they’re pretty much a legendary gig promoter in the Irish scene who have played a role in the early musical careers of many a big named artist and band flourishing in the scene to this day. They’re still taking off and growing in Cork, but in the likes of Dublin and other counties up and down the country they continue to make their mark on the landscape of Irish music. They’re always rooting out unique and undiscovered talents around the country through their showcase gigs at which they always feature about 4-5 artists or bands in an evening of music. In Cork this year, they’re throwing a gig roughly every quarter, with events in April and July already so far, and their last 2 for 2018 scheduled for September 27th and December 6th, both in their trusty regular venue The Crane Lane. For more information on how the evenings work, and if you’re a musician interested in getting involved, check out this link for everything you need to know.
Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road! The act set to kick off our evening of music was none other than emerging alternative/rap artist Darce. New to my radar, his inclusion on the Garageland line-up had my curiosity piqued and it wasn’t long before I was checking out a few tunes and bopping my head in appreciation. You can catch a brilliant music video made to accompany his track Valhalla below, it features a powerful message regarding refugees. I was further pleasantly surprised to find out in the approach to the event that Darce’s squad of musicians includes someone I was already familiar with in the form of Blakkheart. It’s been quite a while since I saw Blakkheart in action, back last year when she was a performing member of Sarah-Beth’s band she highly impressed me. As a music producer she’s unreal and to see her working with Darce now and the things they are making together is super cool to see.
I arrived first thing on the evening eager to catch Darce and see what the live experience would be like. Interestingly it was a mad evening in store for him, as not only was he opening the Garage Gig here, he would then be whisking straight off to Cyprus Avenue, opening only for none other than Sean Kingston right after this. Darce has an infectiously happy, wholesome and fun stage presence and is no different off stage, with him approaching me to introduce himself when I arrived before I even had a chance to look out for him myself. They killed it with their performance, with Darce showcasing both amazing singing and rapping, switching it up between the two. I was especially happy to see Blakkheart utilized for her vocals as the opportunity for me to hear her sing has been few and far between though she has one helluva unreal voice, working especially well in tandem with Darce. You can catch Darce in Dublin next month among a super line-up for Hard Working Class Heroes (I’m tempted…). Check out the new song ‘Moonlight’ below which is an Electronic/GFunk inspired single collaboratively released by Darce and Blakkheart ahead of a combined EP they’re working towards.
Gee, me writing a blog post that happens to include Sarah-Beth in it?! (That) (Totally) (Never) (Happens) (Here). Sarah-Beth was only included on the billing for this event a short time before the gig in replacement for a prior drop-out. When I heard the news that she would be part of the evening, I was ecstatic as she’s one of my favourite artists coming up in Cork and it’s always great to see opportunities unfolding for her and the band. As a newcomer to the Garageland format, I was pleased to hear that the team were quick to fall in love with her music much like I did at first discovery last year, with them bringing her on for a slot on the radio at RTÉ 2XM in anticipation for the gig which went superb. Given that her slot on the stage at Crane Lane would only be about 6 or so songs, I was well intrigued as to how the set-list selection would go due to the plethora of songs at Sarah-Beth’s disposal. As can be expected, she came perfectly equipped with a set to match the occasion, a skill I’ve seen her utilize time and again when picking from her catalog for different shows. She and the band wowed everyone in attendance, many of whom without a night like this from Garageland would never have crossed paths due to the disparity in their chosen genres of music. If you’re attending Electric Picnic this year, make sure you catch her on the Friday and Saturday at The Hurly Burly, you wont be disappointed.
This is one that I have been well overdue catching. Echosoul featured at the Crane Lane in November at the first Garage Gig I ever attended, but before I had been in attendance. I’d heard and continue to hear great things from the Garageland team so it was only a matter of time. At last, and quite fittingly, they once more featured on the Garage Gigs so that I may finally witness what I’ve been missing. They played a belter of a set for us, with songs such as ‘A Is For Apricot’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Standby’ catching my attention. They were also playing with a fresh addition to the band in the form of their bassist, who slotted in perfectly in the trio. In the middle of the set singer Glen Galvin elicited a laugh from the crowd and fellow band members when describing themselves as ‘3 guys in our thirties very out of shape’. Check out their brilliant song ‘Something Good, Going On’ down below on Soundcloud, and if you like that check out more on their Soundcloud page!
Red Sun Alert
It is perhaps a criminal occurrence that Red Sun Alert have not featured on my blog before this point in time, as they blasted their way into my attention early this year. It all began by word of mouth when I was blown away by their guitarist Cian Mullane when I caught him playing in the band Crojayn, and from there learned of his involvement in the band Red Sun Alert (Mind you, Cian tears it up in so many bands I can’t imagine how he keeps track of it all). Following up on this recommendation, I finally got to see Red Sun Alert themselves play when they were in the CIT Music Society Battle of the Bands competition, which they eventually came through the other end victorious in. Enthused by their highly energetic, loud and entertaining display I continued to follow them, landing myself in an unusual setting for myself: A day of Metal music to see them play their part in a mini festival called Seshfest. Not the hugest fan of Metal and/or going deaf, I debuted a new pair of earplugs at this event for the heavier, ear blistering acts, but all in all had a good time, which brings us up to now.
Their full line-up consists of Julia Pawlak on Guitar and Vocals, Cian Mullane on Guitar, Jim Spillane on Bass, and Dylan Walsh on Drums. Before they were set to take the stage I learned that Jim was after cracking two of his ribs before the gig. Knowing them well enough by now, I knew that probably wouldn’t matter to him one bit and he would nonetheless go absolutely mental on that stage. Sure enough, we were greeted with the one signal that lets everyone know RSA is about to blow the stage a new one: Jim Spillane chucking his shirt away as he takes to the stage with his bass. And from there, the night was theirs. In usual fashion, guitarist Cian could be seen flying around the place as if the guitar had a mind of it’s own absolutely shredding it up. Julia captures the crowd with her captivating presence and vocals, and you’d never guess Jim was injured with his usual crazy antics rocking out. They’ve just released their debut EP ‘Luna’ available to listen to on streaming services, you can check that out below. Their launch gig takes place this Friday (August 17th) at The Roundy in what is sure to be an unreal evening. One of the most interesting things for me about Red Sun Alert is their style and it’s way of bridging a gap between genres. Performing under the general genre of ‘Progressive Rock’, and yet not sounding out of place among a line-up of Metal bands, they’re in a rather unique position of appealing to both sides of the fence. I’m not a fan of Metal music and was overwhelmed at some of the bands at Seshfest, and yet I’m a total fan of Red Sun Alert and every aspect of their characterful and manic performances. If you don’t make it to the EP launch, keep an eye out next month as they hit Dublin, Galway and Cork on the 11th, 12th and 19th of September respectively, touring with Galway band Dead Horse Jive which should be some monumentally awesome shows too.
And Finally, Le Merchandise
All in all it was an incredible evening of music and more importantly a very diverse selection of genres mixing here to create a mix of something for everyone. Most of the artists were just that much different to each other that without a night like this they genuinely may have never interacted and made new fans and connections with each other because of it. I wont lie, I was pretty disappointed by the attendance level of the Cork crowd. It was a once off type of opportunity for amazing discovery and an unreal evening of music, and the numbers simply weren’t there. Nonetheless I can only continue to hope that more and more people in Cork realize the talents surrounding themselves if they simply take a look. In other news, the new range of Garageland Ireland shirts have dropped and are available til the end of this week for just €10 with free postage at this link, after which the price will be going up from this super cheap rate. Mine just arrived through the door now and I’m loving it, especially how I know of more and more artists from the list slowly but surely between each time I read it. Until next time folks, peace out and Keep on Merchin’
Bloody hell, where do I start with this one. Snow Patrol are back in action folks, 7 long years out of action but it was worth the wait. When I heard that they were back – And with that, playing a show in Cork Opera House of all places, it was like a dream come true. The only problem is I heard about it AFTER they had already sold the damn thing out in pre-sale, from a co-worker who knows my penchant for concerts nonetheless, totally upstaging me. I wasn’t having that at all, my reputation was at stake here, so one way or another I had to be at this concert. It quickly became apparent that there was an unusual case with this concert of almost no tickets being touted online, with everyone gripping their precious tickets close to their chests. In the weeks leading up to the concert on May 12th, I in fact only witnessed one singular person looking to dispatch of one ticket, a drop-out from 4 going so it was. The gig gods shone in my favour for some unknown reason, as despite countless offers and some ridiculous figures suggested to them by people, that person who I did not know at all held onto that ticket tightly just for me and allowed me to experience this magical concert, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Brand New Friend
So without further ado let’s get this show on the road. When Snow Patrol burst back onto the scene with a new album on the way, a mini-tour of intimate shows to show face and build the hype was on the agenda, thus a venue like Cork Opera House when they could have easily smashed The Marquee for example. For the support slot, they chose Northern Irish hot prospects Brand New Friend. Indeed to me a brand new name, a quick scout ahead of the show assured me that these guys were making some serious waves and turning heads. Watching them emerge onto the stage, it didn’t take them long to win over everyone in attendance with their exuberance and domination of the stage that would soon host a much bigger band. On vocals are the brother/sister duo Taylor and Lauren Johnson, who are also on guitar and keys respectively, and then Aaron Milligan on Bass and Luke Harris on drums. Their passion and hunger is evident to see as they are both comfortable up there and yet equally incredibly excited for the opportunity they’ve been given. Taylor takes the chance any time he’s not singing to stumble around the stage lost in the music and the guitar that he plays. It’s not lost on them the sway for their local scene they have by performing with such legends, so for every gig of the tour Taylor reps the shirts of local Northern Irish bands, a commendable move and obviously one that meets with my deepest approval. On this night in particular it’s January, elsewhere it’s Sad Tomorrow, General Fiasco, Sleeping Outside, The Couth & Hot Cops. Phew, some list that, if you’ve the time make sure you go checking some of those out!
On stage, Brand New Friend emanate the most wholesome, joy-filled love for music. They’re electrifying, they’re infectious and they’re authentic. When Taylor calls Snow Patrol the best band in the world before dedicating a song to them, you better believe it’s not just because they’ve put them on a big stage, this band got to share the same stage with their idols, multiple times, and it’s clear they’re simply happy to be there. Towards the end of their set Taylor promises the band will return to Cork soon, and when it eludes him as to what that occasion shall be the trusty bassist Aaron is in quick as a flash to inform us, and him, that it’s for Indiependence festival (An amazing festival that they’re for sure going to kill it at, might I add). When they finish and leave the stage, their choice of band name is apt because the general consensus of one who has heard or seen them play is that they have indeed made a Brand New Friend and are left with a lasting impression. Brand New Friend just released a new video for their latest single ‘Why Are You So Tired’ (This title alone speaks to me on so many levels, relatable), check it out below!
Sweet jesus I don’t even want to write this part, how does one do justice with these words to that exceptional evening from Snow Patrol? Hope you enjoyed reading about Brand New Friend, peace out ’til next time.
Oh, you’re still here? Fiiine, I’ll try. Once the curtains dropped after BNF’s reign on stage had finished, a huge stage set-up befitting of giants like Snow Patrol was revealed. At the very back of the stage hung a giant, somewhat translucent, curtain featuring the astronaut from the Wildness album. With it’s slightly wavy shimmering it gave the added effect of the astronaut moving slightly, like it was floating in a vacuum of no gravity. The air was tense with the anticipation of Snow Patrol’s appearance, for some like myself it would be the first opportunity to see them in the flesh, for others it was a long awaited reunion. Any doubts one might have had about Snow Patrol being as big a name as they once were by being out of action for so long would be quickly debunked the second Gary Lightbody and co. hit the stage. The yells and cheers from the crowd were deafening, with the smallish population of Cork Opera House sounding every bit like a sold out 3Arena or stadium crowd, myself obviously included. It wouldn’t take much to imagine the absolute rush that they were feeling on stage to be greeted with such a reception – It was evident on Gary’s own face as he looked out at us in gobsmacked awe, the biggest smile on his face. This was going to be simply magical.
What ensued was hands down one of the most incredible concert experiences I’m lucky enough to have in my catalogue. From the quieter songs to the absolute anthems, they had the crowd eating from their hands every second of the way. At this point in time we’d had 4 singles released from the album to give us an idea of what was to come, and we got to experience these plus one or two more sneak peeks, with Gary leaving the crowd particularly entranced by an emotionally driven acoustic rendition of one of the new songs (Don’t Give In, if I recall correctly).
All the biggest hits and crowd favourites had their place in the set, and the crowd singing the songs back at the stage was unlike any other occasion I had experienced as everyone was pitch perfect, timed to perfection and clear as day. At one point the instrumental intro to a song began, and just as Gary was about to sing the first note, he was absolutely blown away by several hundred voices blasting away at it, leaving him standing there in a moment that he’ll probably never forget, as the crowd sang the whole verse in unison with 100 percent clarity and pacing with Gary unable to get a word of the song in edgeways (I believe the song in question was ‘Run’).
From start to finish I was so lost in their performance that nothing else was on my mind, I was simply mesmerized by the whole ordeal. It therefore came as quite the surprise to me to find myself looking at my hand, finding that I had caught one of Nathan Connolly’s plectrums that he threw out to the crowd. Despite going to so many concerts in the last couple years, I had been woefully unsuccessful in my attempts to catch such a piece of memorabilia, and now finally at last I had accomplished it and from such a high profile amazing band nonetheless. Safe to say, it’s now one of my most prized possessions and the best possible ending I could have thought of to what was already an otherworldly experience that evening.
In a state of pure elation I began the exodus out of the Opera House, shuffling along towards the exit. I was already thinking ahead to the merch counter, and as enticed by getting something Snow Patrol related, I had only one thing at the front of my mind. On the way into the venue I had glimpsed a Brand New Friend vinyl for their debut album ‘Seatbelts for Aeroplanes’ on the merch counter and I knew without a doubt after that show that it was coming home with me. I reached the counter and immediately without hesitation pointed out the vinyl, then spotted a Snow Patrol shirt I wanted and added that in.
Glancing over next to the merch counter I spotted all the band members of BNF so next on my agenda was to meet them and thank them for an incredible show. Meeting them in person, they were every bit as friendly and enthusiastic as they came across on stage, just the most genuine bunch. They passed around my vinyl for them all to sign and we chatted a little bit. In my fresh excitement from what had transpired inside the concert, I mentioned that I had caught my very first band pick from Snow Patrol. This led to another unbelievably awesome moment from the evening as without even a moments hesitation BNF’s bassist Aaron Milligan quickly reached into his pocket, produced his own pick and signed it before handing it to me.
I went home that night in the highest of spirits, and once I got in the door I was ready to chuck the vinyl on immediately for a good spin. I was in for a right awesome treat as I took the vinyl out only to discover it was an amazing wine-coloured record, what a lovely surprise. I intend to get the Snow Patrol album Wildness on vinyl soon, though in the meantime I managed to pick up an awesome bargain of their album Eyes Open on a double vinyl, the album that originally brought the music of Snow Patrol into my life.
So here goes nothing! Hi guys. My name is Kathryn and Sean has asked me to be a guest writer for his awesome (although I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that!) music blog. This is the first time I have ever done something like this so needless to say, I am a bit apprehensive as usually anything I would write after a gig would be mere ramblings on Facebook. Also, considering the standard of Sean’s writing, I feel like I have a lot to live up to! That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try though so let’s get started 🙂
I’m here to tell you a little about a Cork band called The Elation. As I have already stated, I have never done anything like this before but The Elation, as both musicians and people have prompted me to put my thoughts down on paper…Online paper that is!
Anyone living in Ireland recently will have noticed the beautiful heatwave we have been having. Smiles have adorned people’s faces and the warm weather seems to have people in great moods. It was a spectacularly sunny Tuesday and I had just finished work. I knew I was going to have to rush into Limerick City in time to catch my bus to Dublin in order to make doors for The Elation. I ran home, showered, changed, fixed my hair and makeup and off I went as happy as Larry into town. As per usual, my chariot to Dublin, Dublin Coach, was half an hour late. A little disgruntled, yet excited, I hopped onto the bus and prepared myself for the sweltering three hour bus journey in my very own little glass cage of emotion…Or at least , you know, a glass cage! In went the earphones (playing The Elation on Spotify of course! Check them out below) and out went the world.
Three hours later, I arrived in Dublin City. I could feel the excitement coursing through my body but I was also a little nervous. I had never seen or met The Elation before and as lovely as they had been to me online, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from them. Despite my bus being late, I walked through the doors of Whelans at exactly seven o’clock. I grabbed a pint and went to sit upstairs in the smoking area. As I walked up the stairs, I grinned to myself as the catchy beats of ‘XO’ were blaring through the doors. I may have been a little early but at least it meant that I could relax and catch soundcheck before going in.
Twenty or so minutes later, I looked up from my phone and there stood Chris, Declan, Billy and Denis. “You’re Kathryn aren’t you?!” smiled Chris as he spoke. I was flattered that he knew who I was and within minutes, we were all chatting away as if we had known one another for years. I instantly felt at ease and knew from that moment that I was going to enjoy my night! I had been a little anxious about going to the gig by myself, even though it’s something I do on a regular basis, but the lads had helped me to relax as soon as they saw me.
The Support Act
Eight O’Clock quickly arrived and a few eager beavers like myself filed through the doors. Support on the night came from four piece Dublin pop/rock band ‘Fade To Light’. I had briefly checked these guys out on Soundcloud (See below) and was optimistic about what they were going to bring to the night. It was safe to say that they were crowd pleasers and had captivated the attention of the audience as soon as they had set foot on the stage. They quickly gained a fan base within the crowd and heads could be seen bopping along to their songs, bodies swaying in unison. A notable moment from Fade To Light’s set was a touching tribute to one of the band members who had recently lost his father. Unfortunately, I was too caught up in the moment to take note of the name of the song but let me tell you, by the time they had finished it, a lump had formed in my throat and I was blinking back tears. The lads are currently working on their debut EP which is due for release later this year. Keep an eye and ear out for them, they’re going to be big!
No sooner had Fade To Light left the stage were The Elation getting ready to hop up and wow the crowd. It was the quickest change over I’ve probably ever seen! (Kudos lads!) No exaggeration, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, I was just that hyped-up to finally hear the lads play live. Once or twice before, an opportunity had arose for me to see The Elation however, as most music fans are aware, gig clashes are wonderful things. Not.
The Elation wasted no time in showing everyone why they are such a highly anticipated band entering the music scene at the moment. Their first song of the night, ‘Just Say When’ is featured on their new EP Clickbait, which was making its debut on the night. The song started with a catchy guitar riff which captivated the audience’s attention. It was fairly obvious from the get go that the lads were really enjoying themselves and wanted to put on the best performance possible for everyone.
Next up was ‘Catch’, also featured on Clickbait and in addition to this, their new single, which was released on June 29th. ‘Catch’ is a personal favourite of mine and I was in my element that I was getting to hear it live. I’m a sucker for cute wee lyrics so I’m sure it goes without saying that that’s why this is my favourite song. “Her eyes were like fireflies when she walked in and lit the room” are the lyrics that melt me and I’m sure the rest of the room were a bit perturbed by the girl at the front absolutely belting them out! To celebrate the release of ‘Catch’, The Elation released a limited edition run of Clickbait on cassette. If you would like to purchase one then here’s the link, but be quick as they’re flying out of the store! This has to be the most awesome piece of merch I’ve come across in a long time, retro and cheap, what more could you want!
I needed a moment to regain myself after ‘Catch’ and, perfect timing, two new songs (new to me at least!) were introduced to the setlist. “Keep Running” and “Live A Life” are two brilliantly written songs which are enhanced by Denis on drums and Declan and Billy on guitar. I don’t want to give too much away because this is the stage where I encourage you to catch (no pun intended… OK, well maybe a little) The Elation live to hear them for yourself!
Next up was ‘Feels Like A Good Reason To Get Started’. Chris introduced the song and went on to explain that it was released last year as a charity single in aid of Cork Gay Project. Who doesn’t love a charitable band, right?! This track was recorded and produced with multi platinum selling London producer Andy Whitmore so needless to say, it’s a good one! The song has established itself as a dance/pop song but underneath the surface lies a story tinged with sadness.
The boys were ready to show Dublin exactly what they were made of with their next song ‘XO’,a fast paced and energetic pop song. The song’s basis lies in working hard but partying harder and this can definitely be seen both in the lyrics and the way in which the band performs the song. Chris, Billy and Declan can be seen jumping around the stage throughout the song and Denis gives it welly on the drums. “I’m dancing through the night, caught up in your spotlight” is exactly what was occurring during this song as a small group of girls took to the dance floor and got caught up in XO’s spotlight. The joy on the band’s face when they saw these girls dancing along was evident and it was in this moment it became clear just how appreciative they are for the support they receive. Well deserved support might I add.
Following ‘XO’ was another new song called ‘Golden Mirror’. A lot of songs were new to me as it was my first time seeing them but this one stood out to me. The lyrics were captivating and the beat behind it seemed particularly magical. This is one song I’m really looking forward to hearing again!
The night was coming to a close and there were only a few songs left. Next up was ‘Ready Or Not’ which Chris explained was about suffering with anxiety. The meaning of the song could clearly be heard in their lyrics “Ready or not, here I come to find you.” among many others. I felt a particular connection with this song as I’m sure many other members of the audience did too. Each word of this song was sung with particular conviction and when it came to the line “Can you feel it? Can you feel it? It’s my heartbeat.” my heart was racing along with the song. A song like this one with particular meaning behind it will resonate with a lot of people.
The night culminated with a final new song, ‘Top Of The World’ and a cover of ‘After All’ by The Frank And Walters. As Chris said himself, If you are a fan of The Young Offenders then you were going to know and love this song. It’s safe to say they did it justice and had everyone singing along with them! A lively way to finish the night! The band left the stage to a resounding applause from a very enthusiastic audience. Dare I say the crowd were.. Elated.. after such an amazing night? Sorry not sorry.
Check Them Out!
This is the point in my ramblings where I encourage you to check The Elation out! They’re on all the usual social media platforms so you have no excuse not to give them a like or a follow!
A lovely write up Kathryn, thanks! Last year The Elation featured twice already on this blog and I’ve had great fun following their journey and look forward to where it goes next. I attended The Elation’s late April event at the wonderful Cork venue Kino and want to give a quick shoutout to the wonderful support artists they featured on the night, Eoin who put in a fantastic solo set – Dan O’ Keeffe who I was pleased to finally catch play with a full band line-up after a few solo shows, he’s been impressing me a lot as of late with the various appearances I’ve seen him make and he headlines An Spailpin Fanach on July 20th coming – And finally Carol-Ann who rounded out a fantastic run of support bands before we’d even reached the main act themselves. This particular gig from The Elation was beyond incredible as they had full reign over the big screen at Kino and had an incredible visual playing in the background of various animations spliced together. Despite the visuals not being custom made for the band, the theme displayed throughout perfectly suited the band and created a wonderful extra aesthetic to their performance. This was their first self organized headline gig and there was a great number of people in attendance, all round a solid success from the lads.
The Elation rocking their Kino show
The Elation rocking Kino show feat. Elation logo on backing video
I also went to their EP Launch at The Poor Relation on June 1st and witnessed another awesome gig from the lads, support that night came from none other than Rufus Buck who had recently featured with Garageland Ireland and who’s singer is related to Elation front-man Chris Cansdale (The Elation had a relation play the support at The Poor Relation and they STILL didn’t make a pun? Damn it guys). As for The Elation merch? Completed it mate.
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.
Let Down Those Old Defences Lyric Book and CD
Let Down Those Old Defences Case
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.
HYPNOTYST going full Human Blur mode
Simon MacHale and HYPNOTYST rocking the Astro-Kitty top
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’!
Hi guys, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Darragh Cashman and I am Sean’s friend, the same Darragh that accompanied him to Stephanie Rainey at Cyprus Avenue (which you can find here). Credit to Sean he has given me new opportunities, since I got to know him only a year ago through our mutual friend John, to explore new musical talent and to meet great people along the way. Just to add I am a first time writer of a blog, so any criticisms please take it easy! Also on that note if you find my piece entertaining, please do note this to Sean for me as feedback, it would be greatly appreciated!
I wonder how the hell he does it going around to the various gigs he gets to go to, and then I remember I’m basically after following his pattern after Music Cork. I am here to write about the Ed Sheeran concerts that took place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh from the 4th to the 6th of May. I was fortunate enough to have one ticket for myself on the Friday night and Sean jokingly approached me about doing a blog when I got the time after, to which we had a good laugh and I said I’d consider it. The Saturday morning I got a phone call asking would I be interested in going a second night with a family friend, once I accepted and told Sean the news, the text simply read ‘oh by god you’re doing a blog post now, no excuses!’ as I read in his sarcastic tone as if he was there standing next to me. So yes, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to see Ed Sheeran twice, I thought I was lucky to see him once but twice in two nights is crazy! This is my version of events..
Getting to the concerts themselves wasn’t too much hassle, allowing for traffic of course. Both nights we decided to park in Cork Constitution FC grounds. While it was €10 to park each night, the fact we were so close to the stadium made it worth it. The facilities were fantastic and there was food and drink in place on the evening, so everyone was able to fully enjoy themselves, no matter how old you were! From here each night is different, the very first night I was standing, albeit on my own, but I knew I would find someone I knew be it from home or from college on the night to tag along with. For a while I was channeling my inner Sean (I know I know shots fired.. sorry not sorry..) and went in it alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I found people I was friendly with from college and we all had a great time. Standing isn’t the easiest thing for me given the fact I am only 5’6/5’7 but I was adamant to get as good a view I could get. Saying that though, being this small has its perks, such as sliding through people to get close to the barrier.
The perch of the Merch..
One thing I definitely noticed is that the merchandise (or anything for that matter) wasn’t exactly the cheapest. However given such a concert, one must Dive into their bank account and say Ciao Adios to their money (see Sean I can do puns too!) for a bit of Ed Sheeran merchandise. The obvious go to’s are t-shirts, the first night I bought the limited edition Cork Páirc Uí Chaoimh t-shirt and on the second night I bought a t-shirt of Ed jumping in the air and a wrist band. Now I won’t lie, the merch was a little bit steep in terms of prices but some of the designs of the t-shirts were fantastic and there was so many options to choose from, it was hard to resist really.
Merch Night 1
Merch Night 2
So who’s the support
The line up for the tour in terms of the support for Ed Sheeran was of a tall standard. On this line up going across Europe you have Beoga, Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie. Beoga are more known for their traditional Irish music and even accompanied Ed in the production of Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan, more on that later though. Unfortunately I was too late getting to the stadium both nights that I missed Beoga, yes Sean I know that’s your pet peeve about people for concerts leave me alone! However from all accounts, especially those of my friend who were in attendance to their Cyprus Avenue gig the Thursday night, they were supposed to be amazing and seeing on social media they live up to said reviews.
Then there was Jamie Lawson, I personally never listened to much of Jamie before, so I was intrigued to see what he was like. He played a number of songs from different albums including his latest album Happy Accidents. One song that stood out to me from him was The Only Conclusion, he explained how he came to write this song when he finished watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory as Sheldon Cooper came to terms with the feelings of love he had for Amy. I found the meaning of the song and the lyrics quite interesting and it made for a great song. He then finished on the song he would be more renowned for in Wasn’t Expecting That. A great set overall.
Then came Anne Marie, who became more renowned for her song Rockabye with Clean Bandit and Sean Paul. I was very excited to see her as I wanted to see how she would be live, and she lived up to the expectations. Starting with Ciao Adios was an interesting one as I thought it would make more sense to end her set with that song but not going to complain as she got the crowd pumping. Interesting that she switches around songs on her set list as she followed with Heavy on night one and Do It Right on Night two. She got great involvement from the crowd as she got us to join in at any point possible, including for her song Trigger, the song itself was catchy and she worked the crowd really well by getting the crowd to sing at the chorus. Other songs across her setlist included a popular choice of Alarm, her latest single 2002 which she had written with Ed Sheeran himself and my personal favourite of the songs that I hadn’t heard before the concert in Breathing Fire, the song is such an easy going song and has a catchy interlude where she got the crowd to join in with the nah nah nah’s. She finished a fantastic set on her song FRIENDS, everyone was singing it across the stadium and with the end of her night, the crowd was good and ready for Ed.
And so, the man himself
The man of the hour was upon us, you could feel the electricity in the air as we anticipated the Ginger Nut himself that was Ed Sheeran. My only concern going into the concert on night one was the fact I hadn’t seen him live before and I didn’t know if it was worth the price I was paying for the ticket, given it was only him and his guitar on stage. Oh how I could be ever more wrong as my fears were put to bed in 5 minutes as all I have to say is HOLY f**K WAS I WRONG!! Starting with Castle on the Hill he had everyone on their feet across the stadium and singing at the top of their lungs and wasn’t on the stage 3 minutes. It was such a crazy atmosphere, literally having us hang on every lyric and it was amazing the way he controlled the crowd from the moment he was on the stage it was crazy.
After the crowd had calmed down, long night ahead for my throat, Ed went on to explain how his concert is run. He explains that he has a loop pedal at his feet, it becomes noticeable throughout the night how well he is trained at using it. He would begin the start of every song by strumming the tune of each song into the loop pedal and throughout the song he would play a beat off his guitar and it would be played into the loop station, very well thought out for one man and his guitar on stage. He goes on to explain he starts afresh each night, nothing is the same night after night (hmm is it really though Ed, considering you did the same shtick each night?!) and that it would be deleted after each concert, coincidentally leading into Eraser, a song with a good vibe to it.
Next on the set list was a favourite to everyone and a popular choice for karaoke from what I’ve seen is the track that shot Ed to fame in the first place, the A Team. Just staying quiet myself and listening to everyone in synchronisation was chilling. My only negative point about The A Team, was how early in the setlist it was put, this was due to the fact that it was still bright both nights when it was played and while people still took out their phones and put the flash on, it just didn’t feel right. Things picked up again when he broke into another classic in Don’t. As previously mentioned it was going to be a long night on my throat as it was full of screaming, whooping and singing. This song was no exception, and was expertly mixed with a rendition of the song from the latest album Divide, New Man. The lyrics and song title make it clear, this is about a woman who is still clearly hung up on her ex that she goes on and on.. and on about her latest beau and how great he is, despite constantly trying to get in contact with her ex to meet up. When the music stops, and the crowd calm down after yet another standing ovation, Ed interacts with the crowd, talking about how people look in a crowd at a concert, hilariously making a blank stare into the crowd
He also went on to say that 98% of the crowd are always screaming and singing at the top of their lungs. Going on to point out that the 2% of the audience were the boyfriends that didn’t want to be there, getting them into trouble of course! The other part of the audience were who Ed called the ‘superdads’ of the world, who wanted their sons and daughters to have a good time. On a final note Ed did say he wanted his concerts to be judgement free as people would feel they would be judged if they started jumping around, so asked for everyone to sing out of tune as loud as they can and jump around as much as they cared to. He then went on to play Dive which I found to be played very well live compared to the album version and hearing everyone echo back the lyrics was amazing, a theme that would be set throughout the night.
From here Ed would play Bloodstream, again involving the crowd he would ask everyone to wave their hand in an up and down motion when the beat kicked in after each chorus. At the end of the song occurred the first of a few drawn out endings of some songs, with the assistance of course of the trusty loop pedal. Don’t get me wrong, each song was very well drawn out and never felt as if it was being dragged out for an eternity. Next song up was the current single by Ed called Happier, written about a previous flame of his where he describes how happy she actually is with her new partner, unlike the girl of the song New Man might I add.
When people think of Ed Sheeran, they remember him for his emotionally driven songs such as Perfect and so on. Here comes the emotional part of the set list then, the first of these songs would be the smash hit that was Thinking Out Loud, a song that never gets old in my eyes, with just a few light strums of his guitar and uttering the lyrics ‘when your legs don’t work like they used to before’, everyone was drawn in. This song was played a lot later in the setlist on night two, however I am working the setlist off of night one.
Now I’m not going to fool everyone in to thinking I’m the die hard Ed head because the next few songs I was not familiar with that I had to recheck after the concert to make sure I had the right name of the song.. yes I know I’m an amateur leave me be!! The next song on the list was I’m A Mess, followed by Tenerife Sea, after not recognizing these songs I found them to be good songs, good beats and good vibes to them. Just to note, credit must be given to the visual backdrop for each song especially for the songs Tenerife Sea and I See Fire, the next song on this list, very eye catching as darkness set in over Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Such images in the background setting included a multi coloured lion changing colours as the image was displayed, amazing display across the night so credit where its due to the production crew too. Ed went on to begin with the famous Feeling Good song whilst drifting in to I See Fire, a nice slow tempo song that, not for the first time of the night, got the lights off everyone, including my own phone flashing and waved about slowly. Finally of the list that I wouldn’t be aware of fully would be One, I recognized the song but never knew its name.
Sticking to the emotional theme we come to the next song that was Photograph, another song I’d always listen to when it comes on the playlist, just hearing 40,000 people sing every song word for word is something that gives me goosebumps, hearing it in practically every song is amazing. Another song that got the extended version and it was brilliantly drawn out. As previously mentioned, production for the theatrics of the stage were well done, streaming down photos of Ed’s past. The final song of an emotional theme was the second most recent song released by Ed in Perfect, seeing the jaw dropping sight of the lights of everyone’s phones on the second night from a seated view was a beautiful sight to behold, also on the second night, a couple numerous rows above me got engaged, I was unaware of it until I heard the cheering and whooping amongst the crowd above me half way through the song. To put it quite simply, the song was Perfect.
The night took a great turn when after Perfect, Ed took time to note the tremendous support acts of Beoga, Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie, and asked the crowd if they would want Beoga on stage one more time, to a resounding yes of course. We all knew what was coming next, Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan much to my delight!! Interestingly to give an extra Irish feel to his rendition of Galway Girl, he starts the song with a quick chorus of the original song made more recognisable by Mundy and Sharon Shannon. At this point, everyone in the Páirc were on their feet as Nancy Mulligan came to be, and I honestly thought I would lose my voice as I gave it everything. Nancy Mulligan is by far and away my favourite Ed Sheeran song, just the catchiness of the song and how infectious it really is, it’s a toe tapper and the backing music provided by Beoga is truly amazing. After Beoga exited the stage once again, it came to Sing, where Ed demanded everyone started jumping around, secretly I was saying to myself ‘ahm Ed, my legs are kinda banjaxed from standing here all night, might not be able to jump!!’ Nevertheless I, along with the 40,000 in attendance gave it absolutely everything.
As most concerts go these days, from here he exited stage left to the chorus of ‘one more tune’ and ‘we want more’. By god did we get more! To our approval he returned gracing a Cork GAA jersey! On the second night came out wearing the Republic of Ireland jersey, either way we were going to approve. He came back doing two classics, the first release off the Divide album Shape Of You, the beat is so infectious and as always the lyrics being sung back to Ed is just amazing. The final song of the night was a song I wouldn’t have heard as often but was always a good song to listen to, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You from his first album +. It relates to the path that Ed has faced to get to where he is today and it is the perfect song to end the night on, and that’s a wrap as they say!!
The first night as a whole was absolutely amazing and I was very fortunate to come the very next night to go through the experience all over again. I was always a fan of Ed but as previously said was skeptical about spending the amount I did on a ticket to go see him as I was fully aware it was just him alone on stage with the guitar. It is safe to say any doubts I had about the idea of it were put to bed fairly quickly. I would have no hesitation in going again, and on that note, was actually offered a third ticket for the third night in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but had to decline as I was actually busy on the Sunday night. If there is anyone who shared my previous doubts about Ed or just haven’t had the opportunity to go, I’d advise you to go the next time he comes around as he is genuinely one of the best artists on the planet right now. Looking back at the setlist, I found there were a few notable hits that were excluded from here, songs I thought could have fit well here would be Lego House and Give Me Love but understandably not every song can make the cut.
On a final note, the support acts as a whole were amazing, Beoga since the concert I have listened to through spotify and I regret not getting into the stadium earlier to hear them as they’re outstanding. Jamie Lawson I was familiar with and have started to listen to him a bit more as time has passed. Anne Marie was amazing as expected, her new album Speak Your Mind is constantly being played on my Spotify and I would gladly go and see her live when she comes to Ireland for her own individual tour.
Finally I would like to thank Seán again for this opportunity for me to try something new, never written a blog post before and its been an interesting experience, who knows, maybe another collaboration could be on the cards depending on the events that take place.
Righto, been heavily delayed getting this post out into the world with a packed schedule of events, so let’s get right to it. After the great experience I had at the half of the Garageland gig showcase I attended back in November, I eagerly awaited the occasion to experience the caliber of event they throw once more. Said opportunity arose with their return to the Crane Lane on April 12th with another stellar 4 act line-up of Irish talents to show what they could do. I made it nice and early to the event this time and got to meet some of the Garageland team. That in itself was brilliant as all the fantastic work they’re doing for the scene is highly inspiring and it’s an honour to cross paths with people with such dedication for Irish music. I also got my hands on the Garageland Volume 1 CD which features 16 Irish artists and bands which was a nice pickup.
First up on the bill for the evening was opening act Rufus Buck. Rufus Buck are a Cork-based indie-rock outfit who have quite freshly emerged in the scene and were playing their first gig together on this very evening. A notable point about the four-piece is the fact that their front-man is the cousin of The Elation’s frontman Chris, showing that music is something that runs in the familial blood. The lads put on a good show with some wholesome rock vibes. They gelled well for their first time gigging together with only a small tech issue towards the end of their set taking anything away from their performance. I’m hoping we see more from these lads in the not too distant future.
Rich City Vultures
Next up for the evening was Rich City Vultures, the only band of the night I was priorly familiar with and had seen live once before. They were unfortunately down a member of their band for the evening, with their hot-shot bassist JJ Lee unable to make it with them. They made do with a fill in replacement that they hadn’t played with before. Despite that set-back, the bassist was solid and didn’t let the lack of practice with the band show, looking every bit comfortable with the band. RCV demonstrated why they’re one of the hot prospects of the Cork scene right now, their live performances continuing to amaze. Personally one of my favourite antics of theirs is during their song ‘This Moment’, where their drummer switches out the regular drum-sticks for a red neon-lit pair and puts on quite the drumming spectacle. By the end of their set, their energy is off the hook with instruments being thrown and swung around the place in a wild display. Check out their EP ‘Cool Boy’ below.
Up to the stage after RCV was Eden Isle. They first popped their head up in the scene around the latter half of 2017. They put out a photo online hinting at a project they’re working towards called The Eclectic Church. They were fantastic live with a few styles showcased across their songs, loosely bundled into the genre of melodic rock/alternative. There was particular emphasis on their track ‘Numb’ which is set to be their debut single release anytime soon. The song focuses on the topic of peer pressure and is sure to go down well when it hits the aul’ interwebs. Besides the great music I was also intrigued by the stylish footwear of the front-man Kevin, which upon closer inspection had a kick-ass Joker design from batman. Irrelevant to current proceedings but I thought they were cool. Back to the music, they continued to kill it for the full set. While all their music was probably new to most in attendance, they partially played a particularly new song to their repertoire called ‘Ghost of You’ which was still in the writing process at the time, providing an interesting insight into their creative process before they’ve fleshed songs out fully.
The final act to the stage for the evening was alt-rock four-piece Black Violets. They had a stellar performance rocking the place and entertaining the crowd, which at this point was nicely filled out. They showcased their adept abilities with the switching of instruments at ease between members at the requirements of particular songs, with all but the drummer playing their hand at a number of the instruments in their arsenal. Much like Eden Isle before them, they ended out their set with a brand new song freshly finished just 2 days prior called ‘Know The Score’, absolutely smashing it for their debut of the tune. They’ve a 3 track EP available on Soundcloud that you can check out below to get an introduction to their sound.
Cork based band We March first entered my radar when they played in the November Garageland Ireland Cork showcase. Despite me missing their performance on the evening due to an over-saturated personal schedule, I heard great things and the evening was a big success overall. I made a note that I must experience their music live after missing out, and I kept my eyes and ears open for such an occasion to pop up. Funnily enough, such opportunity fittingly arose in the month of March. A band I hadn’t encountered before, Pinhole, was set to play at the Roundy on March 16th and We March were supporting. John Paul FitzGerald, the Pianist and songwriter for We March, was vigilant enough to remember my interest and notify me of the gig for which I’m very much grateful.
We March wasted no time showing why they’re an exciting prospect in the music scene right now. Playing tracks from their debut EP ‘The Dumb Angel’ and other as-yet unreleased material, they announce their presence emphatically. Songs such as their self-titled introductory track ‘We March’ and ‘Fight or Flight’ entice the listener with their incredibly catchy and energetic musical arrangements. With ‘Bones’ they deftly switch up the pace after reeling the listener in and get to work sinking their musical claws underneath your skin, to the bone perhaps if you will, and impacting on a deeper level. The titular track of the EP, ‘The Dumb Angel’, is a hauntingly beautiful minimalistic song carried by the masterful piano work of John Paul Fitzgerald and the mesmerizing vocals of Debbie Calzaccia, and completes the spine-tingling process of their music gripping you tightly and staying with you long after the final note has played out. John was brilliant enough to supply me with a hard copy of their EP after the show, and suffice to say it has seen plenty of spins ever since. With what they’ve accomplished on a 4 track EP, I’m certainly excited to see what time brings to the table in later releases. (Go on, press that play button below, you wont regret it)
After that incredible bit of music I am reminded that the evening has only but begun, as up next is the 4-piece Pinhole to take to the stage. Have I mentioned enough times over the last year how much amazing music there is in the Cork and Irish scene that has slipped past my attention? Flying under my radar until now, Pinhole is another perfect example of this. Not content to have their music placed in a meaninglessly labeled box, they transcend genres and have let their music carve a different path altogether. The result is a refreshingly unique and unpredictable sound that breathes with a life of its own. They put on a captivating performance that had me transfixed from start to end. At the front of the pack on lead vocals and Violin is the incredible Ciara O’Flynn. A neat trick I watched her do in a couple songs, something I’d personally never seen before, was her using her violin as a singing apparatus by singing through its acoustic body. It was an incredibly mystifying thing to watch and listen to, and produced a different and very cool sound.
Captaining a corner to himself surrounded by his triple piano set-up and on backing vocals (And for one song, lead vocals) is the talented Mark McLoughlin. He has a great sense of humour and, despite his self deprecating jokes before his main singing bit for the song ‘God Was Making Snow’, nailed it with his performance for that too. Towards the end of the set Ciara announces that they are going to attempt a brand new song fresh from it’s creation. Through the angles of limbs and instruments I glimpse the drummer at the back with the most priceless ‘I have no idea what we’re doing’ face aimed at Mark before they cracked into it. They smashed it though, drummer included, and closed out the set shortly after. They’ve a good few tracks up on Soundcloud (You know what to do, hit that play button below) to delight the ears with, and are currently expecting the release of their album at some point this year which should be an incredible piece of work. You can also check out their rather intriguing music video for their song ‘Oh No’ down below.