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

Fujiya & Miyagi @ Roisin Dubh, Galway | 30th November | Review

Slow Place Like Home

This was my second time seeing Slow Place Like Home live at the Roisin. I have to admit, I was more impressed by them this time around, and I feel their set matched the “indie x electronic” sentiment behind the main act. Although the venue remained relatively subdued during the support act, the vibe for an electronic dance set was definitely established.

Fujiya & Miyagi

The band played older tunes such as “Ankle Injuries” from their earlier album “Transparent Things” near the beginning of their set, and it was evident from the beginning that their use of bass and synth captured the attention of the audience.

The band’s set developed to feature multiple songs off of their new eponymous album. Most popular appeared to be “Serotonin Rushes” which encouraged the small but attentive audience to reach the dance-floor.

The British band gave off an approachable vibe, taking requests from the audience and being attentive to each others’ musical flare.

I would highly recommend their most recent album for an energetic and unique buzz, coupled with thoughtful bass.

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

 

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

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.