- 08 Jun 18
Seven graduates from the Hot Press MIX course put on a showcase at The Bello Bar to raise money for The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
The banks of the Grand Canal were flooded with people soaking in the sun on a stunning Thursday evening. A definite buzz meandered through Dublin 8. The Hot Press MIX Showcase at The Bello Bar beckoned.
Usually when you have to pay €5 to see a bill of 7 acts, it’s easy to be sceptical about the standard of talent you’re about to be presented with. Over the course of two and a half hours, a number of graduates from the MIX Class of 2018 did their part in providing a packed Bello Bar with an evening’s entertainment.
All of the evening’s proceeds were donated to The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a charity which aims to relieve the financial strain on families that are forced to bring home the bodies of loved ones who pass away suddenly or tragically abroad.
First up to the stage was Cormac Doherty for what his first ever live show. The nerves were obvious and inescapable in the early parts of his set. After stumbling through the first few lines of his opening song, the crowd would’ve anticipated the worst. However, he managed to salvage the performance and closed the song out with conviction.
Making reference to his fluttering start, he had done himself justice by the end of his second and final song. A singer/songwriter accompanied by just an acoustic guitar was the general theme for the night and Doherty did extremely well to put the show back on track.
Sometimes your first live show can draw nerves, as was the case for Cormac Doherty. Other times it can be the source of unheralded confidence. With Linda McEvoy, it was the latter. Her first show playing original material was one of the most entertaining performances of the night. Not taking herself too seriously, she waltzed onto the stage with sunglasses and an electric guitar and tore into her opening number 'Oh Jerry'.
With Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider sponsoring the evening and providing everyone with free drinks, had McEvoy been performing a little later on the bill, I have no doubt she would’ve had the crowds dancing and moving. Her indie/techno backing music, combined with her overriding enthusiasm and desire to entertain, ensured she achieved all she set to achieve.
After McEvoy’s high octane set, Wexford singer Megan-Kate Doolan took to the stage. Playing songs from an EP she released last year, her voice is the key ingredient. It’s a voice that has the potential to divide opinion but the crowd took to her last night. It’s so distinct and easily recognisable. She held the room and made sure the atmosphere inside The Bello Bar resumed to a far more sombre one. ‘Mother’s Day’ was the stand-out song from her set.
The showcase was organised by Kev Olden, another MIX graduate. Although he was the MC for the night, he didn’t pass up the opportunity to perform himself. Making use of a loop pedal, the Cork man brought a serving of indie pop to the table. His second song ‘All Shook Up’ was written specifically for the MIX Showcase because he claimed he hadn’t enough material otherwise. He made great use of the loop pedal and it allowed him to play some impressive guitar solos that the crowd audibly approved of.
His first couple of songs were really entertaining. His third and final track felt one too many. You couldn’t fault the song itself but it was the same structure and tempo as the previous two songs and felt slightly repetitive. However, he was well received by the crowd and put a lot of work into organising the evening so it’s more important to focus on the fact he was responsible for raising money for charity.
Kildare’s Amy Dillon was the 5th to perform. A soft-spoken songwriter, her sound is complete. She could perform on any stage and wouldn’t seem out of place. She is shy and maybe even a little awkward with her crowd interactions. She would nervously introduce every song but as soon as she played the first note on her keyboard, she was taken over by a persona that exuberated confidence.
To the side of the stage were family of hers who travelled from America to see her perform and she more than justified the length of their journey. Some talking at the back of the bar during her set was unfair but it didn’t phase the majority of the audience who were captivated by her soulful and elegant vocals.
The penultimate act was Ross Breen from Leixlip. Paying homage to all the acts on the evening, he was the first true performer of the evening. He encouraged the audience to get involved and singalong and the crowd really fell for his energy and enthusiasm. Accompanied by a number of effects pedals (most notably one which provided harmony), he really provided an energy which had been sacrificed by the previous trio of acts as they opted for serenity instead.
He closed his set with ‘Idyllic Valley’, a song which he has performed on RTÉ multiple times before. It’s easy to see why. It’s raucous, catchy and allows Breen to convey his showmanship. Feedback pierced the room as he departed from the stage to an incredible reception. It was a daunting performance to follow but up stepped Nile St. James.
Wearing a red and gold kimono, feather earrings and a gold headband, Nile St. James certainly turned a few heads as he addressed the crowd. Accompanied by a guitarist, he was free to be the showman he clearly strives to be. When someone is willing to draw attention to themselves in that matter, it demands talent.
Within a couple of notes, it’s clear Nile St. James has it in abundance. His vocal ability was immense. Just listening to him, you’d swear he could hit every note under the sun. He swayed about the stage as he took the audience on a journey. It’s dramatic. It has attitude. The whole performance was flawless and left the audience in awe. It would be a surprise to no one if we were to see him on the West End in the future.
He only played a three song set. ‘Chain Of Fools’ and ‘The Hunt’ were followed by ‘Fell For You’, a single he released last year. It was uplifting and was a real feel-good note to finish on. All of the night’s performers gathered on stage for a photo as the night was brought to a close. The Hot Press MIX Class of 2018 are a talented, talented bunch altogether.