Katell Keineg, Nina Hynes, Goodtime John, Barry McCormack, Paul O'Reilly, Luka Bloom.
KATELL KEINEG [pictured right by Roger Woolman]
The Welsh-Breton singer begins with an impressive middle-eastern style song accompanied by a drum-machine. When it’s done she blurts out, “Now, where have I left my wine?!” Exchanging her acoustic for an electric guitar, Katell is joined on ‘Passions’ by Nina Hynes. The swapped harmonies and verses go down as well as that cheeky Sauvignon Blanc she’s now managed to locate. Katell welcomes another mate to hop in behind the drums while advising us girls to avoid men who have Hitler biographies on their shelves. Note taken! A pantomime donkey – no, really! – arrives on-stage for some ass-shaking and backing vocals on new single ‘Shaking The Diseases’, much to the delight of the crowd. Cracking stuff.
Kicking off the Lisdoonvarna proceedings on Stage II was Dublin’s crowned queen of quirky pop/rock Nina Hynes, equipped with her pink Fender Telecaster & trademark red-lit flowers wrapped around the mike-stand. It must have seemed a daunting task taking the 2.15 slot but she rose to the occasion with aplomb. Songs included the child-like version of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ with only haunting notes on the keyboard accompanying her voice. The beautiful ‘Time Flies’ off Staros (taken from the character in Terence Mallick’s The Thin Red Line) tickled the crowd’s fancy so much so that one heckler yelled up his admiration to the songstress who replied “You’re lovely. I love you too. Let’s meet up after the gig”. Next was the excellent, rocked-up ‘Mono Prix’, a fans’ favourite. All in all a great set from one of Dublin’s most underrated talents.
John Gowhie was next up on Stage 2 accompanied by assorted members of Jape, Connect 4 Orchestra and Redneck Manifesto. Goodtime’s cheery, country-esque toons complemented the easy-going, sun-drenched vibe of the gathering. The band delivered songs from last year’s Dragged Four Ways Out Of Town and the recently completed I’ll Sing Until The Sun Turns Cold, due for release next month.
After a swift pint break and change of venue I find myself in the indoor seated acoustic room in front of a suited and booted ex-Jubilee Allstar, Barry McCormack. Even though hidden behind his acoustic guitar, he’s still a tad paranoid about his attire: “I think I must be the most over-dressed person in the audience, but I thought there might be some show- jumping!”
He soothes us with easy-listening, melodic tracks from his album, We Drank Our Tears, all delivered in a Bruce Springsteen-goes-country rasp. There are also traces of his beloved Planxty, Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners. Unfortunately, the 500 copies of the CD he intended to bring along were left behind in his bed-sit. Ah well, next time!
Next up in the acoustic room is the unassuming Sword’s man Paul O’Reilly who’s blessed with a voice that one too easily could fall in love with. Sharing a stage with percussionist and banjo player Padraic O’Reilly (apparently no relation) he treats us to such highlights as ‘Songbird’, on which he asks everyone to sing the lines: “We have no boundaries or places to go. We’re free to fly and free to go.”
You wouldn’t think this lad was a Slayer fan as his hushed whispers captivats the crowd. Even when he advised people to check out Mundy on the Main Stage and Damien Dempsey, who was seizing the day on Stage 2, they weren’t budging. He was over-whelmed and thankful and confessed that it was “a real honour to be playing at Lisdoonvarna”.
Christy Moore’s brother Barry takes to the stage armed with his trusty acoustic guitar and introduces his set with the words, “I’d like to sing a song for all the Dublin people here today – it’s called ‘Bog Man’.” The crowd response is ecstatic as Luka goes on to deliver his characteristically lively and poetic brand of folky story-telling. Much of the material on show is familiars from his live album Amsterdam, independently released on Big Sky Records earlier this year, and wonderful it is too.
However, the undisputed highlight is a radical makeover of a certain song made famous by Luka’s sibling. Moore the younger claims to have written it that morning and requested the help of his tour-manager to hold up the lyrics – and off he leaps into his own hilarious rendition of ‘Lisdoonvarna’ recontextualising the lyrics for the more bourgeois surroundings of Dublin 4. Needless to say, references abound to cappucinos, frappucinos, a pint of Bud and a glass of vino. Classic. Luka invoked the John Spillane composition ‘Fair Play To Me’. An apt summation, I’d say.
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