- 20 Jan 19
Saturday night of Whelan's Ones to Watch festival was even better than its Friday thanks to a well-planned program in which every acts' set led perfectly into the next.
Wyvern Lingo recently called for equality in the Irish music scene, describing it as 'totally male dominated'. Matters seem to be improving, however, as Saturday in Whelan's kicked off with three great, unique female artists.
First was Saoirse Casey, taking to the stage with just a guitar and her delicate voice. Yet, that did not make her performance any less immersive. Featuring evocative, powerful lyrics, romantic ballads like 'Breathe Easy' and 'These Days' had audiences so enraptured, one could have heard a pin drop.
Kicking proceedings up a gear was another singer-songwriter, Laura Duff. Backed by a band, her faster paced more bluesy tunes complimented Casey's set - particularly track 'The Other Side', a ballad about a seemingly weak woman with a dominating partner.
Next was alt-rock band Runway Lights fronted by singer Louise O'Hanlon. Typically a five piece, their Whelan's set was a more low key affair featuring only O'Hanlon and a guitarist. Still, the singer's raw almost punk voice has an unabashed power that enlivened their show.
Two terrific sets followed from experimental, instrumentalists Blue Whale from Belfast and Bicurious from Dublin. Both bands sounded incredibly dynamic, alternating between breezy funk melodies and sudden bursts of explosive guitar riffs. Extra points for Bicurious whose upcoming song 'I Don't Do Drugs, I Just Sweat a Lot' would drive anyone to mosh.
This energy was maintained with female led Derry pop-punk trio Cherym who hardly took a breath between songs. Sounding like Green Day crossed with Elastica, their heavy guitars and catchy 'da da da' backing vocals were infectious.
However, the night's highlight was indie rocker Badhands, who played tracks from his fantastic debut album Predictable Boy. Live, songs like 'Lost in a Dream', 'Monday Morning' and 'Voices' were given extra heft, punctuated with thundering crescendos of guitars, keyboards and drums. Meanwhile, he also played a new track 'If You Were Mine' - which is a glam rock belter.
Ones to Watch's goal was to showcase our country's blossoming talent. These two nights showed the future of Irish music is bright.