Aidan Logan EP launch with support from Kaz Hawkins, Lauren Bird & Ben Cutler
Thursday 14th September 2017 – Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast
Belfast songwriter Aidan Logan really made a name for himself earlier this year, being selected as one of four Northern Irish artists by Belfast Nashville festival to travel and perform in Nashville, USA. One only needs to give Logan’s music a listen, or have a quick chat with the man himself, to realise just what that trip meant to him. Thursday night saw the artist taking to the Crescent Arts Centre to celebrate the launch of his new Turbulence EP alongside a line-up of great artists, new and established.
Falling very much into the first category is Ben Cutler. The addition of any underage artist at a local show is such a rarity, never mind a fourteen year old songwriter such as Cutler. Introduced by our headliner and MC for the evening, Cutler leaves no room for nerves and sets off into a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love.’ At ease and confident in front of an audience, Cutler shows off his well projected and versatile voice as he switches from cover to original. The Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’ suits his pop informed vocals, but his originals, including one so new he can scarcely remember the name of it, show Cutler is more than just a voice. The sad but self motivating ‘Don’t Be Blue’ ends a short set from a young artist with a lot of potential.
Following Cutler, and adjusting the mic stand down, is twenty five year old Strabane artist Lauren Bird. Well known to us, as a previous Kickstart winner, Bird has no hesitation in connecting with an audience. Her set is filled with tracks from her debut album released earlier this year, beginning with ‘Don’t Regret’. Bird apologetically introduces each sad song, with few more melancholic than the quiet and consistent finger picked ukulele of ‘That’s The Truth’. Regular closer ‘Goodbye Good Luck’ is a popular send off, with a more upbeat rhythm and a defiant message. Described by Logan as both a favourite and a talented ukulele player, Bird no doubt won a few new fans in the room.
Not normally one for a support slot, special guest Kaz Hawkins begins her short set with a lengthy tribute and dedication to her ‘adopted son’ Aidan Logan. The two bonded on their Nashville trip, with the mutual respect coming through loud and clear. Hawkins with a cover of ‘White Buffalo’, dedicated to Logan, and despite a few hiccups, Hawkins makes it clear that she couldn’t be more at home than on stage. A gifted and experienced performer, there isn’t a person in the room that isn’t won over by Hawkins’ bluesy vocals. If the first track showed hints of her impressive voice, ‘Drink With The Devil’, about boyfriend no. 42 brings it out with full force. Despite an extended interlude due to a broken string and an extra song snuck in, Hawkins eventually ends her emotional set on one dedicated to Logan’s mother. Throughout her set, you get the impression that Hawkins would feel completely at ease on any stage, her powerful and touching performance is undoubtedly well received.
With a short break and a hard act to follow, Aidan Logan takes to the stage. Logan has a full band with him tonight but opts to start solo, armed with just his acoustic guitar. Here to celebrate the release of his new Turbulence EP, air travel seems to be a particular influence for Logan as he starts into his first song of the evening ‘Skydive’. One of many tracks inspired by or penned on an airplane, the romantic tone and Logan’s country tinged vocals are a good mix. The following track, the percussive ‘Just When I Need You Most’ has RnB levels of smooth with fast rapped verses and a Na Na Na refrain.
As a patron of country music, it’s no surprise that the songwriter’s Nashville trip has left a big impression on Logan, with stories from his time there, and the Bluebird Cafe in particular, scattered throughout the evening. The solo introduction proves Logan to be an endearing songwriter, bringing multiple styles into the realm of his country music upbringing. But with the addition of bass, drums, lead guitar and keys on songs like the rock & roller ‘Summer Fling’, the tempo and volume are raised by more than a few notches. Playing the EP from start to finish, ‘Turbulence’ is unadulterated country pop, with a rhythmic and catchy chorus and a chime of ‘hey’s from onstage and off, while ‘Higher’ reaches its peak with a slide guitar solo.
The highlight of Logan’s set may just be ‘Seems You Better Go’, with Logan and his guitar accompanied only by some soft piano playing. It’s far from the only emotive and melancholic effort from Logan but it’s the most affecting and maybe heartfelt. It may close out the EP but tonight Logan welcomes back the band for a light hearted and playful ‘San Fernando’, an infectious ending. A little cheesy, but look around the room and it’s clearly the cap on a successful evening for the Belfast singer-songwriter.