The much-anticipated first Jameson Bow St. Sessions of 2017 went off with a bang as Soulé, Barq and Booka Brass brought endless grooves to The Sugar Club.
As part of the long-standing collaboration between Jameson and Hot Press, Bow St. Sessions have added a new flavour to the Irish music scene for nearly 18 months now – and the latest incarnation was proof positive.
Complementing the cinema-style seating and wood-panelled walls of The Sugar Club, Jameson once again pulled out the stops with the cooper-panelled, rustic backdrop complete with rolling tweets on the big-screen, brilliantly setting the scene. The much-lauded Boilermaker – Jameson Caskmates and a Franciscan Well beer (sipped together!) – was on the Jameson drinks menu, along with plenty of pizza, before the main acts took to the stage.
There was a packed-house and everything was in place as rising urban-electronic star Soulé kicked things off, setting the tone by launching into a sublime vocal exhibition of ‘Orbit'. With her band effortlessly holding things together, Soulé took all the room she needed, as she flooded the Club with her truly exceptional sound.
Taking a line of influence from 90s RnB and funk, Soulé finished her set with 'Waterfalls', and a nod to TLC. Her unique style and voice soared above the crowd, clearly excited to have this emerging artist in their midst.
Next up were Hot Press cover stars and purveyors of their own unique "agro-soul" sound, Barq. Much lauded for their forthright, no-holds-barred style, they kicked off a raucous, pumping set and in no time at all had the crowd dancing, throwing shapes of all sizes.
The in-yer-face appeal of songs like 'Gentle Kind of Lies' and the jarring emotion of most recent single ‘Bear’ are partly why Barq are so on the button; but above all of this, it’s their raw power that shines through. Reverberating guitars and the strength of vocalist Jess Kav add weight to their already emotive lyrics. Barq have clearly landed on their sound.
Keeping the groove going, Booka Brass' 7-man outfit jumped on stage and launched into a set which proved, once again, why they’re considered one of the country’s best live acts. Playing originals from their debut album Chilled Milk, the robustness of their sound swelled the room.
The seven Bookas were enjoying themselves to a man, and it wasn’t lost on the crowd that these are classically trained musicians allowing their jazz sensibilities to break the rules all along the way.
And then, there was one last surprise in store for the faithful amongst us who’d moved stage-front, as all three acts returned for a very special one-off collaboration (an impressive feat in itself, considering the musicians numbered more than a dozen!) Jess had warned Hot Press in advance that the collaborations would "melt people’s faces off” – and in a musical sense, they did just that and more. Slaying with their rendition of Beyoncé’s 'Formation', Jess and Soulé were on a mission. The first strains of Missy Elliot’s 'Get Ur Freak On’ sent the venue into a dancing frenzy. The combination of the potent vocals of these sisters-in-soul, along with the all-star band, saw a ferociously energetic and ear-bending close the night. The assembled guests at the Sugar Club witnessed a performance that will stay long in the memory.
Calling the night unique would be an understatement. The latest Bow St. Session – with its assemblage of artists from genres not commonly associated with ‘Irish’ music – proved the broad scope of talent in this country. And rest assured, there’s more of that to come...
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