It’s a very cold October night and we’re en route to The Grand Social for something we can already feel is going to be a bit special. Azniv Korkejian AKA Bedouine has just finished up a string of dates playing support to Matthew E. White and is now about to play her first Irish headline gig – an event we are delighted to be present for.
Despite our early arrival, by the time Tim Chadwick takes to the stage all of the fifty or so seats are taken and a standing crowd has already started to gather. He starts off with just him and his guitar, strumming Paul Simonesque chords while hitting falsettos a la James Vincent McMorrow or Bon Iver. Those comparisons are strongly reaffirmed when he sings ‘Blindfolded’, and his next song, ‘Until Then’, is an emotional piece in which he showcases some beautiful technical guitar skills and, again, his incredible vocal range. Following this he takes a seat at the keyboard in the centre of the stage and breaks into his take on U2’s ‘With or Without You’ - a slightly reimagined version featuring some 80’s dreampop keys. His songs bring to mind James Bay or Leona Lewis, and for an artist of only 20 years of age he showcases a confidence and stage presence worthy of a veteran performer.
After just a few minutes break, Bedouine takes to the stage and the room is suddenly swelling with a crowd that are ready and willing to provide their full attention. Her voice instantly evokes that of Laura Marling – strong but breathy, steady and low. Her subtle guitar playing provides the perfect backdrop for her dreamy vocals – more wistful than her recordings. In fact, your writer is reminded of Mama Cass’ ‘Dream a Little Dream’ which itself, as its title suggests, is like being lost in a reverie.
It’s hard to imagine we are witnessing this performance at a venue beside the river Liffey and not a jazz cafe on the Seine as our eyes and ears would suggest – not even just because of the navy beret our performer is donning. Although her sound is firmly rooted in folk, there are hints of Billie Holiday coming off tonight. Her twinkly picking is reminiscent of Cat Stevens and one would imagine Joni Mitchell is amongst her influences.
We are treated to an unnamed song and invited to provide suggestions for a moniker – a task the audience take delight in participating with. However, aside from this back and forth and enthusiastic applause combined choruses of ‘woooo’ (a sound she has informed us she takes delight in hearing), most of the time you can hear a pin drop.
I notice a lot of her songs contain references to the skies – clouds, space, UFO’s, and the sun all getting honourable mentions along the way – which is fitting for pieces that have the ability to take you on a journey and help you fly away. Her songs are laced with emotion and in ‘Dusty Eyes’, a personal favourite, the repetition of the lyrics "(they don’t come close to)..... the way that I feel about you know" becomes a sort of chant, increasing in pitch and volume to great effect.
She announces her last song – another favourite of your writer – and breaks into one of her more country sounding songs, ‘One of These Days’. Matthew E. White himself confessed to playing this repeatedly after she had approached him at a show asking could she send him a song. It impacted him and his band to the point that they set it as their alarm to wake up to.
She leaves the stage only for a short minute, giving in to the audience’s requests for an encore – though she declares she isn’t sure she has enough material to do so. She sings us a beautifully haunting and almost tragic track titled ‘Bird’ which revolves around the idea of letting someone/ something go free if you love it. "Bird, if I held you too tight. Bird if you're here through the night, I will let you go", “If your wings have been clipped...... I’ll release you with what is left of your wings. I will leave you to sing” – an affecting piece.
She finishes up to a final round of claps and ‘woos’ – the very least we could do. We don’t stick around much longer (it’s a school night you know!) but I did catch a glimpse of the artist chatting with attendees in the venue afterwards – perhaps she made good on a pledge she made to a request from an audience member to get drunk with them after.
Overall, a pleasure to get to see such a special presence in as intimate a setting – with any justice this lady will be playing to a much larger mass in the near future – one we plan to be part of.