- 08 Jan 18
A Celebratory Night Of Songs And Stories from David Keenan, Harry Hoban and the Brothers Kane, Junior Brother, and Stephen Murphy. Hiding In The Corner: Pat Carty
Point of information: a couple of weeks before the show, I was approached and asked to act as MC for the night. Because of this I wasn’t in my usual mode of intense note taking concentration - I was running around in the background, trying desperately to think of something to say for the next introduction. Hence, this review may have some holes in it.
Tonight’s show, billed very much as a celebration, had sold out weeks in advance, which is a fair achievement for an artist at this level, without any real “product” to speak of. Let me put it this way, if you haven’t already heard of David Keenan, you will shortly, and you’ll be glad you did, but more of him later. There are three support acts, all chosen by David, and all working in a similar artistic space. Up first is poet Stephen Murphy, who managed to take the stage despite having to negotiate the back stairs in Whelan’s with the cast iron wheelbarrow he must have been employing to transport his massive, brass balls. How else can you explain his ability to hold an already full room – there had been a queue around the block before the doors opened – rapt with only his couplets as weapons? This spoken word stuff isn’t really my bag, but one can only admire the power inherent in work like ‘What Truth Is Peace?’ and ‘Ériu', during which Stephen is joined by Claire Maguire for a striking vocal. He finishes with ‘Before You Push The Chair’, the effect of which is emphasised by a slight tremor in his voice. It could be nerves in the face of this large crowd, or passionate self belief- either way, it works.
Hailing from Kerry originally, but now in Dublin, Junior Brother – one man, a battered guitar and his tambourine – has certainly not lost his accent. He sings in a voice that makes no concession to the conventional approach of knocking off corners to gain acceptance, and he is all the better for it. Parts of his set are marred by too much chat from the bar, but songs like ‘Castlebridge’ and ‘Names Of Things’ cut through. Seek out the video clip for ‘Hungover At Mass’, if only to see what Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ would have looked like on a budget of €1.50.