While some of us might be cutting out pumpkins and getting our Halloween costumes crafted, or perhaps hiding away from storm Callum a small group of people did show up to the Crescent Arts Centre on Friday to welcome on stage the marvellous Owen Lamont as a supportive act for outstanding Marc O’Reilly (with talented Mike O’Connell on bass guitar,backing vocals and amazing Peter Burns on wild drums). This historical building was just the right spot for those musicians to lay down the blues, the rock and the acoustic sensations.
Owen Lamont was on stage stage 9pm sharp. Everyone at the venue was seated including the artist himself, who swung his red electric Gretsch over his knee and welcomed everyone with his low distinctive voice. He kicked off with freshly released ‘Just Smile’, originally accompanied with backing vocals, piano and brass, this song, here it worked perfectly with electric guitar only.
Lamont seemed to be reaching his high vocals effortlessly, on occasions slightly moving his head back from microphone to put the depth of his voice on full display, while using his fingers to swap between fingerpicking and full chords. Mr Lamont controlled the guitar with gentle movements and just like his voice, it was dazzling.
The great ‘Hold On’ released last year was a must during the set, with the message of appreciation for the often rough, but beautiful road that we take through life and how another’s soul support might get you right back on it if needed. While tuning the guitar in between the songs he sought out jokes from the audience to keep us entertained. ‘Lady Love You’ written to his then girlfriend and now wife was a beautiful tribute, his performance prepared the public for another dose of the stress releasing guitar treatment from the main act.
When I heard Marc O’Reilly playing a few years ago at Stendhal Festival I was amused. I was the first one [literally at the venue] awaiting for this concert. O’Reilly was a little bit tired (and hungry) after playing in Dublin just the night before, so after the soundcheck he disappeared to show up on stage refreshed and ready. Bottle of wine alongside his three guitars, ready to start what was one of the best performances I have seen this year [alongside Courtney Barnett in May]. Tonight he thanked Owen Lamont with a big round of applause to begin with tracks from 2017 album Morality Mortality.
‘Compromise’ with its slow and steady beginning working up to his lavish guitar solo at the end of track left the fans in awe.
“This next song is about what you surprisingly can get from your crazy family and exes”, was the introduction for ‘Healer’, traditional build up by the band and prolonged vocals were sprinkled under the ceiling. Each time before singing O’Reilly took a deep breath, as he walked closer to microphone it seemed that he’d be getting ready to jump in for a dive in the ocean. Another oldie ‘Of Nothing’ was introduced on acoustic with astonishing techniques on six strings, leading to a mini solo performance given in the middle of the set.
Peter and Mike left the stage to let O’Reilly unplug the guitar, get closer to the people and hypnotise all of us with string picking frenzy in ‘African Day’, he was using the body of guitar as a drum and finished by strumming on the very neck of the guitar. Not long after it was back to electric cutting through the tracks from the past all the way up to the new album titled L’Être Politique [his mother is French]. At one point Peter Burns dropped the stick to use his hands only.
“Everybody good?” he asked lifting the bottle. “So fucking good to be back here, I can’t believe you know the names to all those songs, cheers!”
He proceeded to play ‘Tell Old Joe’ which had a western film theme feeling speeding out of control to let the drums lead the way in the finale.
‘Enemy Of’, ‘The Scottish Widow’ and ‘Shadows’ are just a few from the rest of his hour and a half set.
“We will play a couple more, you all have homes to go to.” “No we don’t !” the fans replied.
I do believe that if Marc had gone on to play all night not one person would have left the room. Until next time.