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.

Image result for villagers album the art of pretending to swim

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
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Fionn Regan- The Meetings of the Waters | Album Review | Track by Track

Regan’s new album, out April 2017, blends sounds off his older records with new studio experimentation. As a whole, a beautiful album, but best listened to as a record in its entirety.


The Meetings of the Waters- The opening track and the first single off the album, this track is accompanied by a beautiful music video featuring Cillian Murphy. “The Meetings of the Waters” beautifully describes a relationship and a place (in Regan’s own County Wicklow)

Cormorant Bird- The minor arpeggios perpetuated by the guitar in this second single open the track as a somber one, and cyclical in its melodies and lyrics such as “I will always run to you”. The added instruments and bass in the chorus lifts it up into a mesmeric ballad, similar yet more melancholic to the the previous track- a track symbolic of solitude.

Turn the Skies of Blue On-Cape of Diamonds- The use of melody and soft guitar is reminiscent of Newton Faulkner, coupled with the “cute” refrain. Yet, the delicate lyrics and the imagery of Spring actually elevate this into a complex and beautiful song.

Cape of Diamonds- Again, this track is uncharacteristic in its rock-like opening. The use of drums and electric guitar are both modern yet haunting, perpetuated in the lyrics “think I’m haunted by you, lover”

Book of the Moon- The opening note of this is Stornoway-esque, yet the discordant minor lyrics are surprisingly stirring. The entire track is quite gothic and unsettling. All in all, a strange experimentation.

Babushka-Yai Ya– This track is perhaps the most surprising of the entire album. The use of additional synth and panning make this track an interesting pop and rock experiment.

Ai- A beautiful one minute euphoric interlude

Wall of Silver- Lying somewhere in between the folkloric tradition of Regan and this new dabbling in rock, “Wall of Silver” couples haunting lyrics of potential love with guitar finger-picking and synthy background chords.

Euphoria- Some Regan fans will have heard this song in the YouTube video of Regan singing with the Staves. This song begins gently and results in painful yet beautiful lyrics and chord progressions screaming their craving for affection. Probably the strongest song on the album, emotionally, yet very subtle musically.

Up into the Rafters- This penultimate tracks features an interesting and uncharacteristic use of synthy bass and pop-like snares. The lyrics are also more fitting of the pop genre rather than Regan’s usual poetic folk lines.

Tsuneni Ai- What is there to say other than an odd yet transcendent 12 minute ending to the album.



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


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


The Ruby Sessions:: 30/8/16

The Ruby Sessions | Gig Review

Niall Cash

As an opening act, Niall set the tone for the evening perfectly, with simple and acoustic songs, joined by an accompanying female vocalist. Some songs showed promise if imagined with a full band.


Erica-Cody’s solo voice was undoubtedly the strongest vocally of all musicians at this particular Ruby Sessions. Her set featured many older songs and finished with one new song, although all lyrics seemed quite basic. Erica-Cody showed definite potential as a jazz/ soul singer completing modulations and variations in dynamics with ease.

Frankenstein Bolts

This duo was definitely the most unexpected act of the evening. Looking humble and simplistic, the harmonies and beautiful lyrics were a treasure to hear. These two stunned the audience into absolute silence. I would highly recommend their album ‘Slow Season’, produced to sound very much similar to their live performance.

State Lights

Another surprising act, the State Lights displayed a full band for a full-sounding final act. Dramatic rock describes best their genre, as the lead singer showed off his strong performance skills. Certainly a contrast to the previous more folk-orientated act, and definitely the best act to finish with to uplift the audience.