Villagers @ Black Box, Galway | 13/12/18 | Review

Following the release of their most recent album The Art of Pretending to Swim in September 2018, Villagers have been playing non-stop. Miraculously, there wasn’t a sense of exhaustion from their November 2018 European Tour seeping into their show at the Black Box in Galway. The crowd fuelled their wild dynamics of both acoustic and synth. The band’s latest album includes a taste of electronica and rock amongst maintaining the usual folk-like lyrics and guitar patterns. This show wasn’t just a performance of an experimental album – this set was built off of the reciprocal relationship between audience and band, driving each other to new capacities.

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Villagers’ performance of “Again”, the opening song on their new album, mixed synth, techno, bird noises, and gave the impression of elevating into a new dimension. The lyrics, “I feel it ripple and ready its soul again” make us question whether “it” is music, the artist, the audience itself, or a zest of huamnity. Within the one song, the audience was dancing, swaying, or shocked into silence at any different moment in the song.

Another standout performance was that of Darling Arithmetic‘s “Hot, Scary Summer”, leading the audience through pain, awkwardness, and ultimately reassurance. “Courage” was performed in a similarly raw and acoustic style, building in huge dynamics to a dramatic climax in the final chorus.

The strongest performance of a new song was undoubtedly in “Ada”, a homage to Ada Lovelace, fading into an amazing electronic soundscape at the end of the song to mimic the fantasticalness but also confusion that a technologically developing world brings. The Black Box performance was one of both tenderness and techno, lyrics remaining simple yet poignant. The drummer drove the band from folk to rock across the performance of the band’s variety of albums, with his multitalented musicality carrying over to performances on the flugelhorn.

O’Brien himself picked up the horn at the end of the set; the set’s conclusion was, unsurprisingly, {Awayland}’s “Nothing Arrived”. There was a sense of uncertainty amongst the audience as to how this dynamic and vivacious set could possibly be concluded by a well-known and sensitive acoustic song. The song was performed humbly, focusing on the guitar fingerpicking and the tender lyrics. Yet, it built on O’Brien’s raw lyrics through the use of harmonies and the respectful accompaniment of the band, and finally, through an incredible brass performance, raising hope and radiating musicality through the audience.


More from Villagers’ 2018 album, The Art of Pretending to Swim


Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

Luke Sital-Singh @ The Bodega | Nottingham | Review | 21/5/17

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Support ~ Ciaran Lavery

It’s not often that a support act doesn’t merely warm up the crowd but actively captivates their attention, silences them, and heeds rapturous applause, but Lavery’s simple acoustic set achieved just that. “Return to Form” was an especially beautiful performance.

Main Act ~ Luke Sital-Singh

The Bodega was absolutely packed for Sital-Singh’s performance. The simplicity (despite the constant switching between guitars, and piano 😉 ) of his set is what encouraged the crowd to settle and concentrate on the lyrical quality of his songs, especially “Nothing Stays the Same” and truly stunning new song, “Killing Me”. “Cynic” was another new song performed undeniably impeccably.

When Sital-Singh and Lavery joined each other in a Ryan Adams cover, true beauty was achived.

Top class gig.

★★★★★

Lewis Watson @ The Bodega, Nottingham | 3/4/17 | Reivew

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Support ~ Slowlights 

This classic indie rock band really lifted the mood in the Bodega. “I Try So Hard” was an especially drum-driven song where the band really came together. The lighting for the set was especially good, fitting the rock vibe yet creating an ambient glow.

Main Act ~ Lewis Watson 

Watson dotted his set list with older, fan-pleasing songs, including Halo, performed beautifully. However, most of the set consisted of songs off his new album, midnight. The audience gave an excited and stirring response to “little light” particularly. Other standout performances included “forever” and “give me life”.

Watson also gave a heartfelt yet funny story about watching the film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World on a plane and being inspired to write “when the water meets the mountains”. A personal favourite of mine off the album, this song offered the most dynamic lull and build, to captivate the crowd.

The newer songs were all received well, in fact, midnight offers hope that genuine progression for artists exists, with its added drums and variation.

★★★

 

Wallis BIRD @ Vicar Street, Dublin | REVIEW

Support

Sam Vance-Law acted not only as a member of Wallis’ band, but a phenomenal support act. Balancing comedy, openness and genuine music beauty, Vance Law’s songs coupled with piano and Emma Greenfield on trumpet were raw, hilarious and I gathered from those around me that his songs stayed with the audience long after he left the stage. One song was actually interrupted by unstoppable laughter, so skilled was he at lifting everybody’s spirits on a dark January night.

 

Main Set

Wallis’ use of different genre, style and melody in her songs was evident through the jolting movement from one track to another, mixing soulful rhythms with more traditional Irish influences. The use of varied instruments reflected this hotchpotch too, including the use of Aidan’s running scales on the clarinet, various trumpet melodies, and stunning violin interludes.

Stand out track performances were:

  • Seasons
  • To my Bones
  • In Dictum
  • Home

Each of these tracks were performed beautifully, with strong central vocals, the twang of a strong accent, a distinct growl and total enthusiasm.

Reminiscent of Orla Gartland, Gabrielle, The Staves, Sinéad O’Connor, and complete with three standing ovations, Wallis Bird’s performance was pretty much flawless.

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Lisa Hannigan @ Liverpool Arts Club 21/10/16 Review

Support Act: Heather Woods Broderick

Singing later in the concert as part of Lisa’s band, Heather Woods Broderick was an apt warm up to Hannigan’s soft tones. Her echoing, haunting voice prepared the crowd as people gathered in to eventfully fill the Arts venue. Although at time not astutely enunciating, Woods Broderick’s melodies were beautiful and gave a comforting ambiance.

Main Set: Lisa Hannigan

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Opening with Little Bird, a beautiful folkoric tune from previous album Passenger, Hannigan silenced the audience totally with her lyrical genius. Other songs from this album were played, including the track Passenger itself and O Sleep.  In O Sleep especially we were able to see the full talent of other set members and the genuine collaborative nature of the band’s singing.

A couple of tracks in, Hannigan began to play tracks from her most recent album, At Swim. In gothic track Prayer for the Dying, the music talent of the double bassist was revealed. Ora was performed with a similar emphasis on strings. Meanwhile, Snow and We the Drowned were elaborated into much more energetic pieces, including some heavy drum work to gauge the crowd’s interest.

The standout performance has to be the acapella version of Hannigan and two band members (including Heather) singing Anahorish, a song of the new album originally a Seamus Heaney poem.

The most energetic song was most definitely Knots; Hannigan’s enthusiasm in the performance was visible. With the impressive drum work, everybody was tapping their feet.

While disappointing that older classic tunes like Home and I Don’t Know weren’t performed, it was a full set list with an intriguing band and a genuinely original sound.

Lisa Hannigan- Lo – Live @ Arts Club

 

Gabrielle Aplin, 28/1/16 | The Albert Hall, Manchester: Review

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Doors opened at 7pm for this packed event- the venue was pretty much full by the time the second support act came on.

First support act- Hannah Grace:

Hannah Grace, part of Gabrielle’s band, has actually been singing solo for several years now and her incredibly strong vocals give her a jazz/soul feel. Warming up the crowd well with her sweet yet slightly shy and awkward presence, Hannah’s vocal performance with the instrumental accompaniment of Tadhg was flawless.

 

Second support act- Lewis Watson:

Known for also duetting with Gabrielle, Lewis Watson’s youthful, soft male voice contrasted well with that of Hannah’s. The crowd warmed to him extremely well- many fans of Gabrielle Aplin have clearly heard many of the songs off Lewis’ 2014 album, ‘the morning’.

 

Gabrielle’s set

I was really impressed with how many songs of her second album Gabrielle sang. Having seen her live in November 2013, I was worried that there would be a lot of repetition, but beautiful renditions of Shallow Love and What Did You Do, followed by a David Bowie cover, did not disappoint. The band accompanied tracks were especially impressive.