- 13 Sep 21
The jazz, folk and blues veteran breezed through a beautiful setlist at Judge Roy Beans, as part of the Summer of Music programme, supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.
Coughlan's impact on the Irish music scene and the jazz and blues world in general over an impressive three decades has cemented her status as one of the nation's greatest singers to emerge. What better act to perform at Judge Roy Beans' Summer of Music series than the Galway musician?
With a little help from Johnny Taylor on piano and Barry Donoghue on double bass, the charismatic performer kicks off the show with jazzy number 'Damn Your Eyes'. Coughlan's voice is as rousing as ever; its rich, honey tone pensive yet simultaneously sultry and provocative.
Next up from the 65-year-old comes 'Double Cross', one of Mary's gems from her 1985 debut album Tired and Emotional. The album sold an unexpected 100,000 copies in Ireland, partly because of a memorable appearance on The Late Late Show. Written by her first ex husband, the down-tempo blues offering tells a melancholy tale about longing and pining for a loved one.
Following this comes the playful 'Friend of Mine', a song about a ménage à trois. Decidedly more up-tempo, the song's flirtatious lyrics, and twinkling piano keys add an intimate, charming touch. Barry and Mary then team up to perform the soulful track 'Seduced', another song from her debut LP, released through East West Records/Warner. This leads into the sorrowful 'The Whiskey Didn't Kill The Pain', taken from her 1990 album Uncertain Pleasures, and her beautiful take on Bonnie Raitt's 'I Can't Make You Love Me'. The latter appeared on the second Woman's Heart album back in 1994.
A highlight from the setlist is undoubtedly the hugely poignant 'Family Life'. A song she heard the night her mother was buried in Galway, Mary's daughter Clare later gave the single to her as a Christmas present. Her mother's brother lived in New Zealand and invited her to attend the Arts Festival the following year, which Coughlan accepted. The emotional rendition is clearly still a raw, nostalgic moment for Mary.
Finishing up her set with the gorgeous 'Let It Be Me', the singer-songwriter's empathy for those down on their luck shines through effortlessly. The musician has now recorded an incredible 15 solo albums and has sold out some of the most prestigious venues worldwide, and it's easy to see why. A timeless career and a legion of devoted fans have allowed her to maintain relevance, with her 2020 album Life Stories dubbed yet another success by Hot Press.
Revisit Hot Press' October 2020 interview with Mary Coughlan here.
Highlights from the Judge Roy Bean's gigs will be available on the Hot Press Youtube channel soon.