- 28 Nov 23
A cosy night was had at Smock Alley where singer songwriter David Keenan and playwright, actress and performer Evanne Kilgallon hosted Geimhreadh Galore! a back to back theatre and live music show, perfect for the long dark nights.
Anyone who's been keeping tabs on Irish pop culture lately will know of the phenomenon of Elfish Presley, the adorable toy show icon who captured hearts when he appeared on the beloved cultural institution last Friday. Well, Louth's David Keenan with similar aplomb, sashayed across the Smock Alley Stage in too big trousers and relishing in his performance in a manner that was very Elfish Presley-esque.
"I ordered these online and they arrived today, and jeez, you could fit four fellas in them" Keenan joked. Someone shouted at the musician saying "nice trousers" to which Keenan retorts 'Come down pal there's plenty of room in them".
Whether it's the stage, the oversized trousers, or just the sheer charisma, Keenan looks confident and at ease, he just fits. He performs tracks like 'The Friary" with signature flair.
His guitar playing is masterful, and it's clear his band is not just a jumbled up together group of happy go lucky lads but commanding musicians, who have all honed their craft. Their artistry and technical ability makes well known and loved songs of Keenan's shine; they sound even brighter and better than they do on live recordings.
Paired with this, is Keenan's vocals, which have an incredible richness and technical capacity. He can playfully dance the line between fun and serious throughout the gig, oscillating between quips and full on belting.
But Keenan's wasn't the only playful performance of the night. Instead of support in the form of a band, there was support in the form of a one-woman play by Evanne Kilgallon titled: 'Jester’s Privilege', a vivacious and satirical take on all things Irish culture and the unbearable weight of being a woman.
Kilgallon's performance was fun, and light while touching on the not so fun and quite frankly heavy universal truths of the modern world. It was a set-up markedly different live music experience which Keenan later remarked on saying "We're doing something different here" to which one audience member replied with "it's working!".
The collaboration of Keenan and Kilgallon highlighted the best of what Smock Alley had to offer as a venue. The theatre in Smock Alley is like a mix between an architecturally designed lecture hall and a stage, with long high benches peering down -rather than up - at the stage.
This marks a space that can both act as an entertainment venue, but also an intellectual one, pushing the envelope and offering ideas.
Kilgallon returned on stage during the encore, to sing Keenan and Kilgallon's new collaborative track 'Christmas'll Ruin Me', set for a December 8th release with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated to the Dublin Simon Community.
A Christmas song was the perfect end to the pair's Geimhreadh Galore! collaboration, infusing all the warmth, merriment and devilment that the title suggests.
However, 'Christmas'll Ruin Me' did not come before Keenan wowed audience members with his band's technical aptitude. 'El Paso' was performed in a rendition that emphasised the good work done on double bass, while 'Evidence' had a huge and fantastic crescendo, with lights kicking in and the sound amping up into a gorgeous sonic richness.
Keenan also performed a spoken word piece. A poem titled 'Hearts, Arts, Anam' dealt with issues of apathy and Irishness, a recurring conversation Irish people have been having in recent days, in what has felt like a dark winter.
The Geimhreadh Galore! performance was something which wouldn't have been out of place on the Irish festival circuit, maybe somewhere like the Galway Arts Festival. It was fun, experimental and most importantly, contemplative, in spite of the veneer of craic.