Mark Geary live at Whelan's, Dublin

Mark Geary makes a live return to Whelan's after years of absence, and is welcomed back with open arms.

A somewhat nervous silence descends on Whelan’s. Mark Geary is finally perched on the stage, guitar in hand, having had to postpone the original gig back in November when the offer came in to support The Swell Season in Berlin. Tonight, promoting 2008’s Opium, the hush of the crowd suggests this could be quite a pivotal point in the New York based Dubliner’s career.

“Could it be two years since I played Whelan’s?” he asks the crowd as he tunes up. Indeed’n it could Mark. Perhaps preparing for the worst, he’s brought with him a large crowd of Gearys for moral support...

But he needn’t have worried. There’s certainly a decent sized crowd on this cold Thursday night, and Geary’s fans hang on his every word. Letting us know we’re welcome to shout out requests, he starts things off with Opium’s ‘Come Little Fire’. After a couple of tracks from 2004’s Ghosts, he’s clearly getting into the swing of things. “It takes a couple of songs to relax,” he muses. True to his word, he plays what he’s asked, and the result is a well-balanced set ranging nicely over all four of his albums.

That said, despite this gig being all about Opium, an album Geary describes as being “about escape and the notion of consequence,” ultimately it’s easier-on-the ear oldies like 33 1/3 Grand Street’s ‘It Beats Me’, and Ghosts’ ‘You’re The Only Girl’ which go down best with the crowd. It seems Geary suffers the curse of the pensive singer-songwriter; he’s not vying for commercial success, yet he’s unable to pack venues without it.

Still though, he gives tonight his all, and there’s no denying that he’s really talented. Declaring at the end that “this was the best gig I’ve ever done in Dublin,” it’s clear he’s pleased with how the night went. Not necessarily a huge triumph for Opium, but certainly Geary can rest easy in the knowledge that Whelan’s has welcomed him back to its dark bosom.

 

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