Facebook = Creepy = Actually A Good Thing Sometimes?
Aloha, welcome back! So this post takes place in August, which means we’re almost caught up to real time with the gigs and stuff! But don’t worry, I’m working on building plenty of material to keep things going, this well is far from dry of ideas. Moving onwards, it’s actually Facebook’s stalker-ish features that are at fault for me ending up at the following gig. So I guess for that one I must thank Facebook for being so gosh darn creepy. I’ll tell you what happened. It was Monday the 7th of August, and my Facebook notifications did that thing where it’s like ‘You have one Friend going to an event near you!’. Typical unnecessary stalking straight to my feed, right? Well the word ‘EP Launch’ in the event title certainly did enough to pique my curiosity, so sure enough I checked the event to see what it was all about.
The gig was to be at An Spailpin Fanach (Irish named Pub/Venue in Cork City) on Wednesday the 9th of August. The artist: Sarah-Beth. I had a good feeling about it from what I read, so that evening I opened up Spotify and decided to check out this Sarah-Beth’s music. On the plus side, the EP she was launching ‘Your Muse’ was actually already uploaded to Spotify so I was able to get a proper indication of what I was in for. Not gonna lie, I was quite impressed straight off the bat. After one listen, I was intrigued enough to commit to attending the EP launch. Consisting of 6 tracks ‘Love or Lust’ | ‘Anyone’ | ‘Little Girl’ | ‘Masterpiece (Prod. and Feat. Blackheart)’ | ‘Your Muse’ and ‘Smile Just a Little’, the EP makes for some wonderful listening. From the dreamy lyrical prowess of Sarah-Beth’s vocals and her penchant for story-telling to her beautifully evocative piano, it takes the listener on a fanciful journey of romance and personal perseverance. By the time the event rolled around a day and a half later, I had listened a further 10-15 times. It genuinely was that good, perhaps one might even call it a Masterpiece (No way I wasn’t gonna fit that in somewhere).
Ronan McCann and Pizza
Puns aside, I showed up to the venue – Typically early, I gotta work on that (Naahhh I wont) – paid my entry and picked up her CD right off the bat at the door. With that acquisition out of the way, I nabbed myself a seat at a table towards the front of the room in which the stage was situated. If it wasn’t bad enough that Facebook being stalky with my friends was the reason I was here in the first place – The bloody fella behind it wasn’t even in attendance in the end after all! I’d actually kinda hoped he’d be there to catch up! First up for the evening’s entertainment there was an artist to support by the name of Ronan McCann. Equipped with an Electric Guitar, he played an interesting set of cover songs and threw an aul’ original into the mix as well to spice it up. His guitar work and his singing were on point and his performance went down well to get the evening rolling. During his set, a waft of glorious pizza started to fill the room. Sure enough out of nowhere a bunch of great big pizza boxes were making the rounds of the tables, with slices racing down gullets at record speeds (Ok maybe I’m speaking for myself on that one but it was a good pizza and I was hungry). With the mystery of the phantom pizzas not yet resolved, Ronan finished up his set and shortly after Sarah-Beth took her place on the stage.
In just about the most Irish thing that could happen that evening, Sarah-Beth quickly addressed the origin of the pizzas – Her mother had told her to make sure everyone in the audience didn’t go hungry during her EP launch, and thus with the pizzas she obliged. Nothing like an Irish Mammy I tell ya, ain’t they just the best. Initially it was just her on stage joined by violin player Caoimhe Brown. They kicked things off with a few songs from the EP, and I was glad to see and hear that it was as impressively pulled off live as it was on recording. After the first couple songs however, things took a twist very much in a different direction. As it would turn out, Sarah-Beth and the music she put out on her EP was just one side to her multi-faceted musical portfolio. Caoimhe departed the stage and in her place to join the artist of the evening was her full band consisting of Conor Nash on Bass, Cillian Plummer playing Guitar, Eimear O Sullivan AKA Blackheart on Synth, and Neil Donovan on Drums. With this change in the set-up, the evening turned down an alternative hip-hop route. You wouldn’t imagine, for example, the Sarah-Beth of the first part of the evening having a song called ‘Protein Baby’, but with this side I was unprepared for it just made perfect sense and they nailed it. They kept coming and coming as well, with an eclectic collection of songs under their belt to put on a fantastic evening for everyone that came. At the end of the day, both distinctively different parts of the performance were utterly brilliant and I enjoyed them in equal measure for what they were. I met Sarah-Beth after the performance to quickly say how awesome it was and she also kindly allowed me to take her copy of the set-list for myself.
Coming Back For More
Once really wasn’t enough, and I eagerly sought out the next opportunity to see Sarah-Beth play. I wasn’t left waiting for long, as just about 2 weeks later she was playing a set at the Bru Bar & Hostel, Cork, on August 26th with her band. I of course was in attendance for this. It was a fantastic evening and it focused heavier on the alternative hip-hop side of Sarah-Beth & Band than the side she showcases on Your Muse, with only a couple of those songs making an appearance. Their aforementioned song ‘Protein Baby’ was quite the hit on the night, as they played it about 2 and a half times, due to starting with it but stopping, presumably to fix something with their sound, then starting it again, then throwing back to it towards the end of the evening for those who missed it and wanted to hear it. This time there was also more cover songs thrown into the mix which was great. One of those actually was a cool rendition of ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes. What made that even funnier for me is just the night before, I had accidentally come across Gary Keane from Stephanie Rainey’s band playing at The Oliver Plunkett venue in Cork on the Frisky Whiskey stage, and he was playing Acoustic Guitar and singing and he covered the very same song. Seems Gary never ceases to blow me away, first with his amazing percussion skills for Stephanie Rainey, and now showcasing his competency at singing and playing guitar. Not to mention what he does as a Producer outside of all these things is just phenomenal. I captured the video below on an Instagram story of Gary performing the song
Back to the evening of Sarah-Beth and band, one last thing of note was the Synth player Eimear AKA Blackheart taking over to play and sing one of her songs as well which was really cool. I’ll definitely be coming back for more from these lovely musically talented people. For anyone interested in checking them out in Cork, they’re actually playing this Friday (22nd September) at The Roundy kicking off at 9 PM. This will be part of Cork Culture Night with other talents to see as well, not one to be missed if you can make it (I unfortunately have prior commitments otherwise I’d be there!). That’s all for now folks, I’ll be back shortly with the next post! And remember, keep on Merchin’!
We’ve made it, the saga has reached it’s concluding stage, there’s just one more experience to get down on the page before that fateful week in June is laid to rest as a treasure trove of memorable experiences. When it comes to the planning of this final concert, I had the most time out of all of them to be prepared. It was November of 2016, I was recovering from being back to normal life after having the time of my life seeing EDEN again. That was my final big expense of the year, so my next port of call was to start saving money. Didn’t quite go to plan the first couple of paychecks as I ended up spending it on various stuff I wanted. Final week of November rolls around and I say to myself ‘Right, this is the week you start saving’. Couple hours later I saw an announcement that Greenday were going to be playing a massive concert in Dublin in June 2017 as part of their Revolution Radio tour and that tickets were going on sale that Friday. ‘The idea of saving money that week flew out the window. Friday morning December 2nd, 9 AM on the dot of general sale, I nabbed myself two tickets. No particular reason why, I had no idea who the second one would be going to, but I like to be prepared for unplanned variables. All I knew is this was going to be epic
Also acquiring a ticket was my friend John who I had invited to experience the concert with me. We were totally hyped for the year to start passing so that we could get around to June, though I did have a sneaking suspicion of just one thing that I’d have to set right if I was correct. A couple months after planning this epic concert, I was playing FIFA with John (Our typical hangout activity) when I decided to test him on just a little bit of trivia relating to our June plans. I thought I’d start it simple enough, so I just asked him to name their current album. When he looked lost for words, I’m pretty sure I actually face-palmed. I wasn’t expecting a masters degree in Greendayology or anything, but I thought knowing a tiny bit about the album which they were touring for might be kinda par for the course. John is a golfer, he might hate me less while reading this when he sees that term. Right let’s dart back to where we were. (Oh he’s a dart player too? And a lover of puns? I’m really covering my bases here. Don’t kill me John!). Anyway that wouldn’t do, so I started to incorporate their songs into our music-listening regime whilst kicking each other’s asses at FIFA, and the next time I quizzed him he was even able to name a song that wasn’t ‘Bang Bang’ or ‘Revolution Radio’ off the track-list so I was satisfied to continue at this point.
Crew of Two? Three’s Company
A month before the concert was due, I was hatching a couple different plans of what I might do with my spare ticket. The main thought that cropped up was to give it away. I was digging the idea, but then another thought crossed my mind. There was one person I could think of that would be the ideal candidate to join me and John on this adventure, and that was my friend Rebecca. I pitched the idea of going to the then sold-out Greenday concert with a free ticket, and the suggestion went down well. Thus, the plan was hatched. While we’re on the subject: little interesting back-story to how I properly became friends with Rebecca. When I was living in West Cork, my primary mode of transport between Cork City and Skibbereen was not the bus – God damn those fares are so so expensive it’s no wonder people in the countryside can feel trapped and isolated from the city, it costs too much to even travel there for the day. No, what I would always do if I needed to travel was hitch. Classic thumb at the side of the road and off we go. West Cork is good for that as the whole route is linear and stuff.
One morning I was walking to the spot to hitch from Skibbereen and some cars were passing, so I figured why not, I’ll stick my thumb out next to me while I walk to the spot in-case anyone wants to stop here. 2 seconds later, there’s a car stopped next to me already. Alrighty then, I open up the door, and inside is Rebecca. We’ve seen each other around Skibbereen enough at this point to do the whole recognizing each other bit, with the mind whirring in the background ‘What level of acquaintance do we have actually? Are we FB friends, not FB friends. Wait, what’s her name even. Oh crap’ Anyway we’re chatting away and nobody is name-dropping, and I’m changing tracks on her phone on the dashboard unit. We’re maybe half way through the trip when Rebecca turns and says “I got your name wrong when you got into the car, didn’t I?” Praise be the lawd, situation saved. I hadn’t even heard her say a name when I got in so I enquired “And what did you call me?”. “Daniel” she said back. With that we cleared the air, re-acquainted ourselves formally, and continued on our merry ways. Rebecca commutes that journey regularly so after that point I utilized a trip or few more, in return for the service I would man the track-list on her phone so that she could drive safely. Thus I knew we both shared good music tastes, and Greenday seemed like the best gesture to make to thank for all the lifts provided!
Day 6 of Summer Madness, Captains log earthdate 290617: My legs are still holding me up, spirits remain above intergalactic levels, and we’re maintaining a steady course towards the last hoorah! Rendezvous is set in Cork to meet my crew for this mission. Briefing on their past exploits reveals Rebecca has gone to massive Ed Sheeran concert this year and has a confirmed solid rap sheet going back. John’s record just has Jay-Z underlined with a question mark next to it, field operatives are advised to dismiss this as an anomaly. Captain Seán, signing off. Anyyyyway, with that little concept piece out of the way, let’s carry on shall we. Me, John, and Rebecca convened in Cork City on the morning of the concert. As I arrive at this point of the blog post writing, John has just expressed his desire in a message that I describe our McDonald’s breakfast in great and vast detail. To that I say: No. We got McDonald’s takeaway and carried on. The bus to Dublin we planned to get ended up being too full from the people queued for it, so we had to wait an hour for the next one. That one we did manage to board thankfully, and away we went. The concert was in the same place as Walking on Cars was, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, so this time around I had a good sense for the timeline for the afternoon. We got pizza for lunch at Papa John’s, then I led us on the long walk out to the concert grounds.
M E R C H
Same spot as the Saturday prior, we zoomed straight to the merch counter. Rebecca had said she was interested to experience my merch-acquisitions in person, and I reckon I did not disappoint. But my god was it expensive, and there was quite a crowd milling in front of it, so it was a bit of a squeeze. That said, with the space I did have, I conducted that merch stand like an orchestra bent to my will, each wave of my hand a crescendo that emptied the vestiges of my wallets contents. For the amount of money I spent for this haul, compared to what I could achieve for that much money at a lesser concerts merch, I was not overly thrilled about the expenditure. That said, I got myself a Greenday Hoodie, Greenday Shirt, a set of 4 Greenday Pins, and a Rancid shirt to top it all off. A quick switcheroo and I was ready for the concert, decked out in merch. John also got some merch, including the same hoodie as me. Rebecca did not seem to like the pins, considering them to be quite freaky. I like them though!
The crowd was already large from the very early stages, so we did our best to get as far forward as possible, and ended up in a decent enough spot. Props to whoever did the playlist for this concert, it wasn’t as tragically lackluster as the one I had experienced 6 days prior, so it had that going for it. To kick off the evening before Greenday was support Rancid. Going back decades alongside Greenday, Rancid are a hugely successful American Punk Rock band. Their participation on the Revolution Radio tour also accompanied a new album release from them, their 9th Studio album Trouble Maker which was freshly released in June. Unlike Greenday, I didn’t have a history of listening to Rancid way back through the years, I had only really discovered them because of their spot on the tour and started listening then. I definitely think it’s a shame I didn’t discover them earlier, but what better an opportunity than to see them in Concert. They were awesome to see and really got the crowd going, even orchestrating some mosh pits from their vantage point up on high. There also seemed to be some pretty hardcore Rancid fans in the crowd, as from the very first song there were people near us who were belting back their lyrics word for word. I also found front-man Tim Armstrong’s guitar to be pretty awesome and interesting, having been the first time I had seen someone play a left-handed model of guitar. It took me a moment to figure it out when I saw it, with it’s overbearing size and low hanging way of him holding it first to attract my attention, before I realized that it was inverted to play left-handed. All in all, a solid opening to the evening to get things going and one I enjoyed very much
After Rancid departed the stage, there was some time in between performances to wait before Greenday would come on. And I certainly have to hand it to Greenday, their years of vast experience really has allowed them to create one helluva show. Before anybody had even taken to the stage, a soft instrumental for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was played out on the PA system, and sure enough thousands upon thousands of people reacted in just about the only way anyone would – Breaking out into an entire full-length rendition of the song in unison. It was quite magical, with just the subtle hint of light-work from the stage lights joining in to the song. Nothing over-stated, nothing forced, the crowd had a voice and that voice was ready to rock. I guess I must have been out of the loop a little on how Greenday concerts go these days, as I actually didn’t know (Or perhaps knew and forgot) about their Pink Bunny mascot and his antics. I certainly knew after the concert. Out onto the stage came the eccentric Pink Bunny figure, the ultimate hype-man-… Er bunny – running about, cart-wheeling, giving birth to mini pink bunny toys that they had been selling as merch (€30 I could not afford at this point in time) and chucking them out into the crowd, and generally employing as much physical comedy as it could before it was dragged away off stage by ‘security’.
Of course, that could only mean one thing. The main event was about to begin. Greenday came out, and the crowd went wild. We also managed to ride a crowd surge forwards to get a teeny bit closer than we had been. It was fairly difficult staying the three of us together, often-times we were cut apart within vision at least and reconnected throughout the night. They opened with ‘Know Your Enemy’, and though it seemed his voice was a tad bit quiet as if he had nearly lost it, he still rocked it like an absolute legend. It didn’t take them long to reach the song ‘Bang Bang’, and I was curious to see would they slip their political chant into the performance. I had been telling John and Rebecca about it as I had seen videos of it from the previous year. Sure enough, out came the chant ‘No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!’ on loop. Certainly Billie-Joe had a lot to say on that matter among other things, as they would often take asides to chat to the crowd, sometimes with a mid-song break, switching up the tempo of the evening. They also utilized the crowd a lot to hype the path back into songs during these lulls by having them chant ‘Ayyyyyyy Ooooooh’s louder and louder. That was good fun, though I think potentially played out towards the end in my opinion as it was done quite a number of times. The mosh pits throughout the evening were a spectacle to behold – And sometimes to narrowly avoid. At one point I was stood in a 3 person wide passage between two mosh pits either side, with John and Rebecca pushed forward from my position. It was all good though and I managed to get back to them once the pits had dissipated a bit.
It was a concert unlike any other I had witnessed, and definitely felt like a huge amount of work and effort had been put in to craft the experience. The lights, the pyrotechnics, the back-drops behind the band of which they had a few, were all amazing and on point. Their set list was an amazing trip through Greenday history, going all the way back through a number of songs from their oldest albums right up to Revolution Radio. Among other things they had costume dress-ups for some songs, hand-cannons to fire out merch giveaways to the crowd (Nope, didn’t get any myself. Shame that.) and brought up a few different people throughout the night to experience a few moments on stage before sending them out onto a run-off catwalk to crowd surf away again. That must have been such an exhilarating experience for those people. At one point he asked if anyone could play guitar, and he eventually settled for someone towards the front right, a 14 year old girl who I believe was named Jennifer Lee. He played guitar with her for a couple minutes, before telling her that the guitar she was holding in her hands was hers to keep now. Many aww’s were expressed in the crowd at the gesture. Like all great things, the time eventually came when the concert had to end, after of course an awesome encore. They stripped back the sound to Billie with his acoustic and he performed songs such as 21 Guns and Ordinary World.
Greenday Towards The End
Then began the mass exodus, a painstakingly slow process of emptying the packed out grounds through tiny exit points. With arms linked and spirits through the roof, we eventually made it back out into the streets. We weren’t staying overnight this time, instead we had opted to get a late night bus back to Cork after the concert, and thus ended that saga. I have to say I am so glad I went through with every part of the whole Summer Madness experience, it was such an amazing time jam-packed with experiences and just living life a bit wildly. And expensively. But we’ll ignore that part. That’s all for now folks, I’ll be back Thursday with a very different type of post, and remember, keep on Merchin’!
AMENDMENT! Edited one hour after release, I forgot to add one piece of merch. When I bought my ticket to go to the concert, I ordered the Revolution Radio album on CD as well, so for your viewing pleasure, here it is now!
Hold the phone, Seán, didn’t you JUST write a blog about seeing Walking on Cars? Yes, but cmon now, I hadn’t seen them in 4 years, missed many opportunities, and simply couldn’t resist the Dublin concert because of Oh Wonder. But a Cork concert? That’s my doorstep, I can go to something in Cork no bother like it’s a walk to the park, I may as well throw it in the mix too. I’ll run ya back a bit and see how we reached this point. Obviously, when I discovered the Dublin concert, I ended up on Walking on Cars’s Facebook page, and sure enough they had a post advertising all 3 of their concerts, Dublin 24th of June, Cork 26th of June, and Belfast a few weeks after (A bit out of reach and beyond my budget, so I opted not to go 3 for 3 on this one). I initially made my plans for the Dublin one straight away, and it was when I was telling some friends that I was gonna see them in Dublin that the suggestion we go see them in Cork came up. I figured why not, in for a penny in for a pound, so I decided to go for broke and buy into both of them. For this one I was planning to attend with my friends Jessica and Sonia.
Plans & Support Artist Announcement
With that said, I attended my Dublin concert on the Saturday, made the tedious journey back to Cork on Sunday, then went to work for a full day on Monday, finishing at 6:15. Then bombed it to Live at the Marquee in Cork for gates to open at 6:30. Despite two months of planning for the occasion, Jessica managed to miss the bus from West Cork and thus her spot at the SOLD OUT concert, and Sonia ran a bit late so my hopes of booking a front row spot in the crowd were unfortunately unsuccessful. I actually had a bit of a mission going into this concert, as when I had seen Walking on Cars in Dublin, at the end of the show they threw some guitar picks and drum-sticks out into the crowd, and I really hoped I could catch a hold of something like that from the Cork show. It was just about the best outcome I could think of for the evening if I could accomplish that much. We didn’t end up in too bad a spot though, about 4-5 rows of bodies away from stage. For this concert, the support wasn’t announced until quite near to the show, when it was revealed that Dermot Kennedy would be playing first. The name bore no recognition to me at the time, but he definitely has his merits as a solid Irish artist, with one of his songs ‘After Rain’ racking up over 27 million streams on Spotify, with his others in the multi-millions. You can check out a music video for that on Youtube here. I listened through to some of his music when it was announced and I was definitely impressed.
Dermot and the Great Big Tent
So there we were, in the great big tent, and Dermot came out to warm up the crowd that was steadily filling the place out. There was a shallow setting to the stage as a great big curtain split the front of the stage from the rest of it out the back. I at least knew from Dublin what mysterious set-up would be unveiled later on. Dermot had a live-band with him, and he started out by sitting down at a red piano and playing that while singing. His singing voice is amazing, with the much coveted depth that Ireland’s great singers seem to possess with ease. Lyrically, he’s a great story-teller as well, his words and his music painting pictures in the mind of the beholder. When he wasn’t playing his piano, he was up to the front of the stage with an acoustic guitar. I was thankful for the opportunity to discover yet more good music that this concert like many of the others before it gave me, adding further to my repertoire. I was certainly interested in my brief listening before the concert, but the show he put on at the concert solidified it for me. When he was finished, me and Sonia were eagerly waiting for Walking on Cars, when a familiar voice from behind caught our attention. Despite the crowd packing out heavier and heavier by this point, our friend Robin had not only realized we were here as well, but managed to find us and plow through the crowd to join us! The perks of him being tall. Thus our duo for the evening became a trio.
WOC: Epic and Then Some
With the concert I witnessed over the weekend, I’d have been hard pressed to imagine them topping it with this one. But whatever it was about the filled out Marquee, that night’s show was absolutely unreal. The crowd was great for singing back to the band, and energy levels were through the roof. The light show was on point, Patrick’s pirouettes while playing his acoustic were perfect, and this time my phone hadn’t died before they came on so I could actually capture some little bits here and there. I captured most of what I could from the performance in the last blog post, and in terms of structure it remained pretty much the same. This time however I can elaborate on a couple of my points with some pictures that I captured at this show. Much like the show on Saturday, the light-screen kicked into action a couple of songs in when they played ‘Tick Tock’ with some magnificent clock-faces spiraling, which you can see in picture one. The second picture is a still from the awesome new song I am presuming to be called ‘Coldest Water’, featuring an intricately wavy pattern in bright blue colour on the back-lighting. And lastly I have a short video I took of the epic moment in another new song I mentioned from the Saturday concert they played where Patrick goes super high and hearing it live just sends chills down the spine. The quality isn’t amazing, but it’s one of the rare moments of music recordings on my phone where the song isn’t bass-heavy and therefore wasn’t completely destroyed for sound quality and you can somewhat hear what’s going on. It’s only 10 seconds long so definitely check it out.
With that out of the way, there’s not much more to say really. Didn’t pick up any merch at this one as I had already collected a good bit of it and was happy with what I had acquired. We departed the Marquee in the very slow exodus of many peoples leaving bottle-neck exit points, and it was pouring with rain outside. So yeah I guess that’s it, The End.
But Not The End!
Not even close. Firstly, I told you I had gone to that concert with a mission, to acquire an item thrown to the crowd such as a drum-stick. That did not happen, one landed about 3 people to the right of me and thus ended that ambition. However, what happened instead I can only say was so much better than I could have imagined or planned for, and would rank highly among some of the best nights I experienced this year. So we’re departing the venue and outside I happen to spot an old friend, so I say hey and we chat briefly. Said friend shares with me a low-key suspicion they had that there might be an after-party involving the band in town at the Old Oak. It’s late, and I have work in the morning, but I definitely had to check this out. I rock up and chill for a bit, as nothing seemed to be happening to that affect so far. It didn’t seem like too many people around were aware of the possibility so it wasn’t hugely packed, and I caught wind that it was a private after-party above the Old Oak in Cyprus Avenue that was taking place. Well, there went that plan, it was invite only to get in.
Still, I headed outside to where the entrance to Cyprus Avenue was, and the first thing I see is guitarist Dan Devane disappearing into the entrance past a bouncer after coming down to talk to a fan briefly. Curious to see if perhaps anyone else might pop down, given that it was fairly quiet out here, I hung about, and sure enough I spot bassist Paul Flannery come out the entrance. Eager at the opportunity to meet the fella, I patiently let him converse with another fan before taking the chance to approach when he seemed freed up. I gotta tell ya, the dude was so cool and down to earth and an absolute legend to chat away to. I was telling him all about the travels to both concerts, and seeing them play back in 2013 and how badly I had been wanting to see them over the last couple years. I was wearing their shirt and hoodie as well and he seemed pretty chuffed that I had gone to such lengths to see them twice in 2 days. After a proper good chat, he was about to head back up stairs, when he saw that I was looking to the entrance and he did just about the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. He looked at the bouncer, pointed a finger at me, then pointed his finger up the stairs to the after-party, and just like that I was coasting inside. My heart was going through the roof, I had actually just made it, I couldn’t believe it.
Inside the atmosphere was cool, people were chatting away, music was playing, the vibes were good. Paul brought me over to a spot with some decent lighting and nabbed a selfie with me and shook my hand before going off to chat to some other folks. I was elated beyond comprehension. I chilled out for a little bit, glancing about to see who might be about, when I spotted Dan Devane again heading out to the staircase. I was here now, may as well try and say hey right? I went out and greeted him on the stairs, and again just another really cool, sound fella. He copped really quickly that I had been to the Dublin concert when he said ‘I can actually tell you were at the Dublin concert, that hoodie you’re wearing was sold out up there and we didn’t have it to sell at the Cork show’. Bonus points for catching hot merch before it was gone, hell yeah! He talked about how unreal the Cork concert had gone and that he was glad I had come along to both. He let me take a selfie with him, and I hadn’t spotted the other members of the band above so I figured I’d straight up ask him ‘So I’ve met Paul, now I’ve met you. Don’t suppose anyone else is kicking about up there you could introduce me to?’. He told me that he wasn’t sure where Evan was, and Patrick was gone to bed (The amount of energy that man expels in a night on that stage, I wasn’t surprised), but that he was sure Sorcha was around somewhere. Cool as could be he turned right back into the inside area and goes up to a table where sure enough Paul and Sorcha are, taps them both and points over to me. The trio came over, and yet more epic interaction ensued. Sorcha was amazing, all hugs and everything and even went tugging at the merch I was wearing saying that they were so cool and she hadn’t seen the designs yet. I was in fanboy heaven. My phone was at like 5 percent battery, but they asked someone to take it to take a picture, and the 4 of us lined up and linked arms. Classic Paul the legend as he is, he started us off with that leg-kicky dance thing where you kick a leg out in one direction in unison, land it, turn and kick the other up, so there we were swaying like-so and having an awesome time as the photo-taker took a picture. The funny thing is you can’t really tell this from the photo as they took it from the waist up.
That just about concludes the absolutely amazing experience I had that night, by this point in time it was almost 3 AM and I had work in the morning so after having my fun it was time to go home to bed, but I’ll for sure be remembering that experience for a long time to come. I survived work the next day without a bother, my energy was proper boosted from the experience I had been through. All that leaves us with is the final of 3 concerts that took place on the Thursday then, it’s a right banger, find out all about it on Monday!
Hey hey! Welcome to the first part of my Summer Madness trilogy, my biggest and most epic of experiences to date! Before we get started, I’d just like to take a moment to dedicate this blog post in memory of Blue, a life short lived but who’s legacy lives on. So, “Summer Madness”, Seán what the hell are you spouting on about now? Let me explain. In the next 7 days, in the fashion of an ideally typical week in The Merch Perch, I’ll put out 3 blog posts – Monday, Thursday, Monday. The contents of those posts however, well that’s what happens when I smash the barriers of a typical week and go absolutely insane. Buckle up, here begins the journey of 3 major concerts in a span of just 6 days. Also just one note to this, I’m going to experiment a slightly different approach to the writing with this blog by tweaking it to a chapter based style, so we’ll see how this goes.
Concert One: The Backstory
This one actually begins as the silver lining to a different tale’s dark cloud. Paramore had just released their single ‘Hard Times’, announced their upcoming album ‘After Laughter’ and accompanying tour of awesomeness. Say no more, Paramore was back and I was already set to grab myself some sweet sweet tickets! And then, heartbreaking tragedy! Despite my absolute best efforts and timeliness to the very dot of tickets going on sale, I was unable to purchase them as they immediately sold out. That left me with funds in my bank account and a gaping hole in my concert timeline. And as fate would have it, a new opportunity arose. I was looking at the ‘aul Facebook feed the very same day when something special caught my eye. In what I can only call a poetic turn of events, in the void of the Paramore concert I discovered a Walking on Cars concert in it’s place. For those without prior reading of my posts, my very first concert was Paramore in 2013, which I went to with a friend called Christopher and together we’ve since been to a couple other concerts/gigs/shows together. The support for that concert was none other than Walking on Cars, who I had never heard of at the time and didn’t pay nearly has as much heed to as I would come to in the years following. I ended up wishing I could see them live so badly every time an opportunity arose and I couldn’t go, only to be reminded that I had already experienced the opportunity once before!
That’s not even the best part. The post in which I discovered I’d be going to this concert was actually announcing the support act, who just so happened to also be another of our mutual favourites between me and Christopher, Oh Wonder. The English duo consisting of Anthony and Josephine, we fell in love with them and their music from pretty much our very first exposure to them which came around the time they were launching their first album. Their music is just absolutely amazing on all levels, particularly in their vocals where they harmonize beautifully with each other, and they just come across as so wonderful and genuine. We had been keeping our eyes peeled like hawks ever since we heard of them, and particularly with their second album coming out, we were ready to drop everything at a moments notice if they were going to come to Ireland and do a show, but it was well beyond our expectations that the opportunity would present itself in such epic fashion. However this time it wouldn’t be just me and Christopher attending together. I was telling my good friend, and at the time coworker for a short while, Mihaela about my concert plans as they were being made and while the name ‘Oh Wonder’ didn’t register much recognition, it quickly became clear that she was a huge Walking on Cars fan. Just as quickly, further tickets were acquired. I very quickly converted Mihaela into an Oh Wonder fan to the point where she could no longer decide which artist she was looking forward to more despite being a fan of Walking on Cars for quite some time (Oh Wonder are simply that amazing). And thus, we were set.
The Story of Blue
Nearly 2 months later, it was time at last. In the meantime, I had begun to move my life away from West Cork to Cork, so meeting up with Mihaela again when she got into Cork was as much a chance to catch up as it was to go forth on an amazing adventure. The concert was taking place on Saturday June 24th in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. As a bonus, this was actually going to be Mihaela’s first proper concert, so in that sense I was her mentor for this experience. We took a bus for the long journey to Dublin, and probably sounded like a bunch of idiots telling tales and bantering. It was during this that I learned the tale of Blue from Mihaela. Basically, Mihaela had been at work when she spotted a blue bottle fly buzzing around her. Curiously, the fly seemed to settle close to Mihaela and observe her as she worked, seemingly without being disturbed for many hours during the day. She grew attached to the fly and named him Blue, and for the rest of the day they were best friends. Unfortunately for Blue, the workplace in which he chose to visit and become friends with Mihaela in, is one I know from working in that is ruthless in it’s ability to make flies just randomly drop dead, guess it must be something about the air. At the end of the day after their bond had grown, Blue shared the same fate as those who had passed before him, but we like to think he had a good last day in this world.
So we arrived in Dublin and connected with Christopher and got food and whatnot together. We had many a merry experience, including a priceless moment whilst eating some food at Burger King. During a segment of the ‘conversation’ that had become a montage of weird noises, expressions, and outbursts of cackling laughter, Mihaela suddenly realized the unsaid but obvious reality that she would be featured in this particular blog when I’d come to write it. This resulted in quite the outburst of excitement from Mihaela, who has also been one of my biggest fans and supporters from day one of this project. The three of us together have become quite the core group of tight knit friends bound together by our passion for music and similar artists, forming a pairing we like to call The Music Aficionados. Apparently my suggestion we be called The Three Mercheteers didn’t fly so well.
With the time looming, the inevitable journey to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, which would stage the massive open-air concert, was underway. The air, particularly in the bubble of sheer anticipation that was moving with the three of us, was absolutely brimming with excitement. There was a fair amount of walking involved, but we breezed through the various steps of entry into the concert, including passing an unofficial merch stand without stopping, the three of us remembering the lesson learned during my experience at my first concert with Paramore, and then at last we stepped foot into the grounds of the night’s spectacle that lay ahead. We were there barely a second, before we were bee-lining it to where we had spotted the Merch counter. It was Mihaela’s first concert and she was also really excited to acquire some merch, influenced aswell by reading about my experiences with it. I worked my magic at the merch counter, pointing out item after item after item to add to my arsenal. I picked myself up two Walking on Cars T-Shirts and a Hoodie, there was no Oh Wonder merch being sold to acquire. Mihaela nabbed herself a shirt, and thus I had started another down the path of no return (muahahaha!).
An Aside of Vinyl Appreciation
There was also a Walking on Cars vinyl available to purchase of their album ‘Everything This Way’ but I in fact already owned it at this point. After my first collected record being EDEN’s EP last year, I was definitely hooked and wanted to have more. I did purchase one more record that I absolutely had to have, and will talk about another time, that year, but it wasn’t until February this year that I really kicked it off. For my birthday, and in an extremely rare instance where I actually knew what I would desire as a present, my dad was amazing enough to get me my own record player, thus transforming my desire to collect some records into a functioning reality (Perhaps I should get a CD player so I can listen to all these CD’s I’m collecting…). That week I went just a tad crazy as I immediately found a Golden Discs and went to their A-Z record display, picking up vinyl after vinyl as I went down. This resulted in my sacrificing of many choices as the competition for a slot in my purchase list grew tougher and tougher, and it was all going well with my selection from about G to V with some I unfortunately had to skip. I thought I had safely picked a couple options and wouldn’t be further tempted, but then I reached the bottom shelf, flicked through some W’s and suddenly discovered Walking on Cars had a vinyl and my wallet was done for, no question about it. Later in the year Oh Wonder re-pressed the vinyl for their first album of self-titled nature, and I nabbed myself a signed copy of that to my delight.
The Sheeran Curse
Back to that particular day in June we go, and we were kitted the hell out. I had already gone and changed from my other clothes of a merch-ly nature to 2 layers of Walking on Cars merch, and Christopher was being typical Christopher and wearing his EDEN shirt still. I hadn’t seen him in 7 months but I was pretty sure he’d never taken it off since. We grabbed ourselves a nice spot very near to the front, although off-center to the right side of the stage. I do actually have one qualm about the concert experience, and that was the playlist of music that was being played out for the evening until the real music began. Don’t get me wrong, most of the songs were fine, but for an event on this scale the playlist really ought to have more than like 10-20 songs, as we were constantly on a loop of repeating the same songs we had already heard and it was really grating on us after a while of the repetition. And don’t get me started about Ed Sheeran. He’s a fantastic artist and has some amazing music, but we were just about played out at this point. While walking through Dublin, we passed a street group playing their rendition of ‘Shape of You’. We passed comment among ourselves about this, and I guess this must be where the curse started. We were in Burger King right after, and sure enough onto the radio we were greeted with more ‘Shape of You’. The very first sound we heard as we entered the big open of the Royal Hospital, you could guess it in one, was ‘Shape of You’! And this playlist in particular had it back-to-back with ‘Castle on the Hill’ and we would be freshly reintroduced to the pairing every 20 or so minutes for several hours. It was a blessing when the playlist cut out and gave us the signal that we were soon to begin with the music we were here to experience.
The Concert Begins!
Only took me like a typical blog post and a half in length to reach the point where the concert even begins, oops. The time came for Oh Wonder to grace the stage, which was like a dream come true for us, especially me and Christopher who had anticipated this moment coming for so long. Anthony and Josephine came out, with live band members in tow, and proceeded to put on a stellar performance. They mixed the set with a lot of their great songs from their first album, with a few of the singles they had released from their new album ‘Ultralife’ that was released a couple weeks after their supporting slot at this concert. The only thing about it was because they were the support and not the headline for the concert, it was quite a concise set that felt like it was over far too quickly. But it wasn’t without some good news first. Because of their new album coming out, they were planning a HUGE world tour (67 dates globally in less than 3 months, proper mental) which they are currently about to embark on very soon after an already impressive number of summer slots at various festivals and the like. They had announced many of the locations on this tour already at this point, however had not said anything about Ireland. I was definitely sure they would be coming here during it though, and they confirmed it during the concert by announcing they would play at The Academy in Dublin (Same place as EDEN was last two times!) in November. And of course you know I’ma be hitting that concert, had my tickets in the net the minute they launched. All in all, it was an amazing experience to finally see Oh Wonder in the flesh playing live, but it was only a teaser of what’s to come. Keep an eye out for that follow up post in November, I’ve got some real special plans for it and I can’t wait. Mihaela and Christopher shall also be involved!
When Oh Wonder departed the stage after an excellent show, me, Christopher, and Mihaela collectively groaned when the next thing we heard was the all too familiar ‘Shape of You’ on the PA system once again. There was a gap between performances and they wasted no time looping us through their derelict playlist a couple times more. We wondered if there would be a chance to meet Anthony and Josephine anywhere but we didn’t see any such opportunity. We saw afterwards on social media however that they had gone into the crowd not far behind us to greet some fans who had taped ‘High on Humans’ onto an Irish flag, which is the name of one of their new songs. The ill fated mis-attempts at meeting musicians for me and Christopher continued once more. The grounds had already been filling out quite nicely when Oh Wonder were playing, but as the evening wore on it was getting more and more packed and we were glad to have copped ourselves a spot at the front when thousands of people were crammed up behind us.
When the time finally came for Walking on Cars to emerge, the place was absolutely packed out, and the crowd was going wild (We of course included). On the stage there had been a big structure of some kind covered in black sheeting, and we had been curious to what would be revealed beneath. It turned out to be a huge tiered platform setup with light-screens on the front faces. Elevated on the top tiers was the setup for drummer Evan Hadnett, and also for pianist Sorcha Durham. On normal stage level, Dan Devane was over on the left side with his Guitar, Paul Flannery on the right with his Bass, and then front-man Patrick Sheehy was in the center, though he was running about with an energetic display that saw him at just about every part of the stage throughout the night, including climbing up to the very top of the mountainous platform now and then. After the first couple of songs, they went into their song ‘Tick Tock’ at which point the light-screen came to life in an awesome display, this particular song having a backdrop of clock faces spinning rapidly, with many of the songs for the rest of the night having their own equally and more-so impressive artsy displays. The band were just epic to watch, especially the antics of Patrick as he moved about on stage, sometimes playing acoustic guitar while pirouetting wildly, and generally owning the stage. Given that it had been some time since their album ‘Everything This Way’ had been released, there had been a lot of anticipation of new music from the band, with photos on social media teasing from their creative processes in the studio. With that said, interspersed throughout their set on the night, the band kept dropping some absolutely banging new songs, debuting somewhere between 4 and 6 brand new songs to give an idea of what’s in store for their next album which is aimed for 2018. Two of the new songs in particular caught my attention, with one I’m going to assume might be called ‘Coldest Water’ being a really catchy song that I’m sure will be one of their big hits/singles from their new album. You know a song is gonna be a hit when you can’t stop singing it in your head and it’s not even released yet. Another one which I’m not sure what it’s called, was a step in a completely different direction as they slowed it down, bringing out a piano for Patrick to sit and play at, and the result was just awe-inspiring. It’s no surprise that Patrick has an amazing vocal range, but when he brought out this song it was like he had unlocked a whole new level, beat that level, and reached the next again. He hit some amazing high notes that just blew me away and was like nothing I’d heard from him ever before. Me, Christopher and Mihaela looked at each other as this unfolded, all of us just speechless.
At the end of the day, the whole experience went above and beyond everything I had ever imagined and hoped for in what seeing Walking on Cars live since last I saw them as a support band would be like. Well worth the effort and travel it took to get there. We left the grounds with so much energy and elation, the kind of exhilarating high only a massive concert like that can give you. We made the very long return leg to Cork on the Sunday, just in time for me to catch the next stage of my awesome concert journey in Cork on Monday. But that’s for next post to reveal, so I’ll see you Thursday with more! Adios, and remember, keep on Merching!
What’s up Ireland family, I’ve got some good vibes to be sharing with ya today. Summer is nearly over, so let me take you back to the other side of it once more. This one takes place in May, and was actually during the very week that I decided to take up the idea of blogging and was setting everything up to begin posting. I was still living in Skibbereen of West Cork at this point, and it was a Saturday night. I was without a plan for the evening, when I received a message from my good friends Sonia & David inviting me out to the village of Leap for the night. The evening’s entertainment was to be taking place in the renowned venue Connolly’s of Leap, and was set to be a night of Reggae provided by Irish artist Cian Finn with support from The Uplifter coming from the UK. I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t know of either artist nor was I typically one to listen to Reggae on the regular, but in usual fashion I was down to give it a try. Thus, off I went, and also discovered that my friend David is a massive fan of Cian Finn, speaking highly of him so I was looking forward to what was in store.
I showed up early enough and met up with my friends, and the evening was underway. First up on the agenda was The Uplifter, a fellow by the name of Tom Earwaker hailing from Southampton. I mean, that right there has got to be an indication of what was to come. Even his ordinary name is suggestive of what’s in store, as I personally feel like my ears were woken to something new that evening (Yes, I just did that. Carry on.). With that out of the way, let’s get to his performance on the night to open things up. An electrifyingly energetic and enthusiastic character on the stage, he was an absolute joy to watch as his personality swept through the venue infecting (In a good way!) everyone present. Take away the music, and he seemed like he could still convince a room to dance. We didn’t have to test that theory however, as fortunately he was indeed providing music. From his DJ set-up he sent forth waves of good vibes and beats to warm the souls and soles of the many inspired dancing feet with humans attached in attendance. However that is only part of what The Uplifter was doing on stage. The main thing about his performance, and what is great fun to see unfold, is his incorporation of live-percussion to compliment the DJ element of his set. To one side of him, DJ set-up, to the other, complete array of percussion instruments with which to drum away at. The overall result is an art form in itself, as he dances around on stage with a care-free manner and a love of life and what he’s doing evident in every aspect. Just a genuine character through and through, having absolute fun whilst providing the means for those around him to experience an equally great time.
Next up it was the turn of Cian Finn to carry on the evening. Like Tom before him, Cian is an artist with an incredible presence on stage that embodies his passion for what he does. His music is deeply infused with a Celtic energy and rich culture, combined with a solid foundation built on the solidarity of love and happiness. Also an exceptional vocalist, Cian Finn’s songs spread great messages about life, freedom and kindness. Cian had the floor rolling as everyone in the venue let loose and moved to the music, dancing and having a brilliant time. There was no space for negativity or sadness in this atmosphere, only purely good vibes and emotions. I personally recommend checking out his music video for his song ‘So Nice’ on YouTube here, and you can also listen to a bunch of his music on the home page of his website here, they’re all really good but the song ‘Ireland’ is one I particularly really like.
The end of the night rolled around and I was just about ready to depart the venue and be on my way, when I spotted Tom hanging about, with a bunch of Vinyl’s for sale. Well inevitably, I made my approach. My wallet screamed at me that I said before I came out that I couldn’t afford any merch tonight if there happened to be any. I ignored it’s pleas, and greeted Tom when I got the opportunity. True to everything that he came across as before, Tom is about as down to earth as they come, and was an absolute pleasure to meet and converse with. I purchased his vinyl, and he took the opportunity to give one of the more unique signings of Merch I’ve ever had, and nabbed a selfie with him for good measure. Eventually we parted, and I left the venue, where I happened upon Cian outside, where he was very friendly and also posed for a picture with me. As it so happened, Cian had intended to bring merch and forgot to bring it, but then my wallet was as barren as anything by that point so it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. Cian does have an album out called ‘This Applies’ and I’ll probably pick that up for myself at some point down the line when I can.
The Vinyl I collected on the evening contains 2 tracks with 3 variations each. On the first side is his song ‘Flag So High’, with variants ‘Brass So High’ and ‘Dub So High’. On the other side is ‘Freedom Chant’, with ‘Freedom Melodica’ and ‘Freedom Dub’ accompanying. I’ve had a whole lot of fun listening to the vinyl the last couple months as the songs are really good, and also feature vocals from Tom aswell! I’ve been following The Uplifter’s social media since that evening, and evidently West Cork had as much of an impression on him as he had on us, as he wasted no time in planning an immediate return and has a permanent pin now embedded into his locations to reach as he goes about performing. He put together a fantastic short video about his trip here and the time he had which I highly recommend as it’s a great recap of the events that happened. You can check that out on his Facebook here. He made his return to West Cork in De Barra’s in Clonakilty about 2 weeks ago, though unfortunately for reasons out of my control I was unable to make the journey to attend, much to my dismay. However I at least got a small taste of it from this video he threw up from the night and it looked like great fun. I believe I read somewhere that Tom is currently working on putting out an album which should be really awesome when that gets launched, and I’m sure on that occasion I’ll be returning with more to show y’all. Tom is also half of a DJ Duo called “Still-Moving DJ’s” which you can check out on their website here. That’s about it for now, so as always remember, keep on Merchin’!
Aloha! Welcome to the last post in this 3 part blog series featuring Stephanie Rainey. The rise that Stephanie’s seen this year has been amazing to follow, and continues to be an awesome journey. Back towards the start of the year, after my first two Stephanie Rainey shows, I said on Facebook that I was looking forward to seeing them again and that I had hopes she would be the headline act when it would occur. Although a month later saw Stephanie Rainey as the support act once more with the Dan Owen gig, fortune would have it that my wish would soon become reality in an unexpected turn of events.
On July 10th, Scottish artist Emeli Sandé was due to perform at Live at the Marquee in Cork, and Stephanie Rainey was to open for her on the evening. I was not particularly planning to attend this concert, however as the date for the show loomed, it was suddenly cancelled. Although the reasoning for it was unclear (and still yet seem to be from my checking, though some reports suggested it was due to fatigue with other shows around the same time also being cancelled), Stephanie Rainey took to social media to announce an impromptu gig in it’s wake as she wanted the fans who had anticipated the concert to still get to experience a good evening of music. Once more taking place at Cyprus Avenue, great venue as always, Stephanie scheduled the gig for the same evening as the concert was planned, offering free entry to all who had tickets for the concert without affecting their refunds, while also selling some tickets which is of course where I enter the picture.
Despite just over a week’s notice of the new gig, and although offering free entry to those who had been due to attend the concert, Stephanie still impressively packed out Cyprus Avenue with an almost sold out show. The night rolled around and I got in nice and early. To join her on the night, Stephanie Rainey recruited folk artist Tiz McNamara to support. On stage accompanying Tiz with his acoustic guitar and fantastic vocals were his 2 live band members on guitar and piano. Tiz played an awesome set to get the evening started, dropping some new tracks aswell such as ‘See You Soon’ which he has pegged for release very soon and is going to be pretty awesome. He also did a bit of a cover/mashup of ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon which sounded really cool. He had an EP for sale which I naturally picked up immediately, containing 5 songs that he had released as singles over the last 5 years. His first single ‘Steady as You Go’ most notably has almost 2 and a half million streams on Spotify (Check out the music video for that here). Tiz has been busy since the show, with performances such as supporting Hermitage Green, to playing main stage of Indiependence festival 2017. With a spot on the card at Electric Picnic and a headline tour coming soon, there’s no sign of slowing down in the foreseeable future for Tiz McNamara.
After Tiz it was time for the highly anticipated Stephanie Rainey to take to the stage, the venue packing out to see her play. Back again on stage with her again was the dynamic duo Sarah Power on keys and Gary Keane sporting yet more percussion than before, a feat I’d have thought to be nigh on impossible after the first time seeing them play. If that man had coughed right there and then while on stage, I swear it’d probably have sounded like a kick-drum. It may have been my 4th time seeing Stephanie Rainey live so far this year, but this night was something special above and beyond what I’d experienced thus far. From the crowd at it’s most responsive level yet, belting her songs back at her as she sang, to a set list boasting the most complete selection yet with a couple new additions, the whole night was an anthem of brilliance. If my understanding is correct, Stephanie will be releasing her song ’13’ at some point in the near future as her next single and I certainly cannot wait, it’s an amazing song and it feels like the right time for it to emerge from the studio. Stephanie also debuted a new song on the night called ‘Question Mark’. Finally when the set came to a close, naturally the crowd shouted one more tune, and Stephanie and co. obliged, breaking out a surprise. As the whole evening was happening off the back of the cancelled Emeli Sandé concert, the trio had rehearsed a cover of her song ‘Heaven’ to play on the night, and they absolutely nailed it.
After all that was over, the band sought me out in the crowd to say hey. Sarah Power was awesome and had saved her copy of their Set List to give to me after the show, and they were also brilliant enough to sort me with a copy of the three signed lyric sheets of their singles ‘Please Don’t Go’, ‘100 Like Me’ and ‘Nothing Of You Left To Love’ which they had started selling on the night. I also had the opportunity to meet Tiz McNamara and say a quick hello there, and he was a cool down to earth chill dude. I was definitely in great spirits after all of that. In the time since the gig, Stephanie Rainey and co. have been very busy. I had really wanted to go to Indiependence this year, but the opportunity didn’t present itself, and Stephanie Rainey played main stage there. I’ve been seeing videos on social media and hearing about it, and it looked like an absolutely unbelievable experience. The crowd was insanely huge and from the looks of things, I’m surprised the band wasn’t blown away by the gale force that was the entire crowd singing (Seriously, check this clip out from it, I’d give anything to have been there for that). Stephanie Rainey has also been recently announced to play Electric Picnic soon (Ugh, I swear last year I promised myself I’d do Indiependence and Electric Picnic this year and I failed on both fronts and now I regret it so much. I mean for christ sake, you know who got announced at EP this year aswell? EDEN! Kill me now or invent time travel. Either will do). She’s also supporting ‘Hermitage Green’ at their Olympia Theatre Dublin concert next month (Hermitage Green are amazing, only just started listening to them recently but they’re great, worth checking out). I know one thing, I for sure am looking forward to the next opportunity to see Stephanie Rainey play some more. I’ll leave it at that, til next time. Keep on Merchin’!
Welcome back! We’re kicking this one off with a familiar name from last blog post, none other than Stephanie Rainey! Ever since those 2 gigs I went to, I was for sure looking forward to the next opportunity that may arise to witness such magic again. I was not kept waiting long for news to emerge of her next show, as she announced across social medias that she would be supporting Dan Owen in Cyprus Avenue on May 14th. My mind had just long enough to ask ‘Who’s Dan Owen?’ before I had already pressed process payment on the purchase of a ticket. I was still living and working in the countryside of West Cork at the time so I had to go through the motions of getting work off and arranging travel and accommodation and then all was set.
Hailing from Shrewsbury in the UK, a brief look into Dan before the gig showed that he is an impressive rising talent with an incredible singing voice and story telling ability beyond his years. I went to check out his tracks on Spotify and ended up constantly listening to them over and over cause they were just that good. His song ‘Made To Love You’ is thus far his biggest achievement, a heart-rending track based on a friend he supported that was suffering in an abusive relationship, gaining over 7 and a half million streams on Spotify alone (Wowsers, catch the awesome YouTube video to the track here). Needless to say after my little discovery session, I was more than a little bit excited to see the real deal.
In typical me fashion, I ended up outside the doors far too early, and while waiting around for time to get it’s merry ass on the move, caught Stephanie heading into the venue and said a quick hello and good luck before she went in. Inside I was greeted by an entirely different atmosphere than the gig I’d been at in the same venue nearly two months prior, with an intimate setting of tables and lit-candles glowing around the room in front of the stage. I nabbed a seat at a table right up the front and waited for the evening to carry itself forward. This particular Stephanie Rainey performance was one with a difference, as there was an absence on the stage of percussionist Gary Keane, leaving Sarah Power on keys and Stephanie with her acoustic guitar to play on the evening. They carried the show beautifully with the slightly stripped back sound which was quite befitting of the intimate atmosphere in the venue. At the time of this performance, Stephanie had also just released brand new single ‘Nothing Of You Left To Love’, an upbeat powerhouse of a love song through which her song writing prowess shone through as usual. (You know you want to check that one out here). All in all, it was another amazing set of a high caliber I’d come to expect and admire by this point.
After that, it was time for Dan Owen. The solitary figure on the stage, no band to back him up, and brandishing a black acoustic guitar with as much of a story to tell on it’s surface as the stories it’s strings would soon be bringing to life. I’d been told that Dan was well known for his eccentric and energetic style of playing that oft led to broken strings, and the chipped paintwork and scratch lines provided quite the aesthetic image of this. Despite his solitary disposition on the stage, Dan played fervently with heart and soul, putting on an astounding display of raw musical talent being unleashed. The power in his vocals was absolutely astonishing as he went from strength to strength through an impressive playlist. The song with which he finished the evening was the perfect choice of a single song that could encompass every bit of his performance the whole evening, a track by the name of ‘Little Red Rooster’. The song also simply could not have come at any other point in the evening, as I suspect there would be no words left in the lungs or energy in the limbs remaining afterwards to continue on. Already an intensely energetic musician throughout the night, Dan managed to up the scale to a new setting with a spectacle of a performance that is breathtaking to experience live. Along with his acoustic guitar, Dan’s arsenal of musical devices included a pad at his feet that he’d stamp on to produce a drum sound, and a harmonica on a holder wrapped around his neck. To perform Little Red Rooster, he sits upon his stool, and while singing, uses all of these tools at once in epic fashion, upping the speed continuously to a raucous climax. There is a video of him performing this live that can be found here to give a taste of what it’s like.
Now of course, where would we be without a good ol’ Merch table? I was certainly glad to find there was an ample selection to choose from. Having not just one, but two shirts on sale, aswell as a CD and a wristband, I was faced with a conundrum of what option to buy. But it’s me, so there was naturally only one choice to make in the end. And so the familiar words were spoke ‘I’ll take one of everything, cheers’. Dan’s salesman at the table looked at me perplexed, but of course made the sale. Once more I had the opportunity to meet and chat to Stephanie and Sarah, and likewise I got to meet Dan and chat and get a photo and some stuff signed by him. Oh and Dan, if you’re reading this, get your ass back to Ireland, I along with many others I see commenting on your social medias certainly seem to agree that it must occur again! That’s all for now folks, catch me back here on Monday 21st with the 3rd in this sequence of blog posts, it’s an awesome one I assure you. And remember, keep on Merchin’.