I was lucky enough to attend the first night of the Hudson Taylor’s five-night run at Whelan’s – now a tradition for Harry and Alfie.
The band’s homecoming Christmas stint at Whelan’s is one much-anticipated by local fans, who would have first known the band as buskers on Grafton Street just a few years ago.
I first saw Hudson Taylor touring around the UK in 2012, when H & A were a mere folk-duo, doing livestreams on the internet to experiment with new sounds, covers, and test the waters in their genre-altering guitar arrangements.
The team have since grown their sound, layering it with electric guitar, rock riffs, a fantastic band, and a wealth of experience performing live. The difference in their demeanour regarding live performance is what strikes me the most seeing them for perhaps the sixth or seventh time. The band’s playful confidence doesn’t play on audience’s affection or blind-judgement; it’s a pure belief in the power of music, and the direction in which it can lift an audience.
For example, the band raise dynamics to the highest level with a song like Care and then strip back their set to an acoustic moment, showing trust in their own emotive harmonies. One of the most tender moments of Tuesday’s set was when Harry, Alfie, and sister Holly (subject of Osea EP’s “Holly” and a fantastic musician in her own right) performed the band’s new song “I Will Be There For You”, an intimate portrait of family.
Always returning to aspects of traditional music, the usual fiddle, and additional whistle, saw moments of improv amongst old and new songs. The Walsh-Peelo brothers seem to be able to get a handle on any instrument thrown at them.
From original YouTube hit Chasing Rubies to a rearranged version of Pray for the Day to wild Battles, the crowd-pleasing balance of folk, rock, and pop sounds, of pre- and post- Singing for Strangers songs, and of moments for each band member to shine, led to an uplifting night. The band act as a reminder that Irish music can carry with it aspects of traditional, of the busking community, of global touring experience, and of trust in a respectful audience.
Hudson Taylor ended the set with new Christmas song How I Know It’s Christmas, lifting the spirits of many returning to see the band, returning to Dublin, and returning to Whelan’s. Many had heartwarming Christmas messages read out, and cards from the band distributed to them through the crowd.
See HotPress’ review here
See the How I Know It’s Christmas music video here