Mo and The Tiger Album Launch W/ Ciaran Tourish (Altan), Martin Tourish and Nathan Millar
Wednesday 28th August – The Black Box, Belfast
Mo and The Tiger welcomed a mixed age group to their album launch; it was good to see an appreciation for new bands from an array of generations and also made for a very relaxed, fun night. First to take the stage was a rather aloof Nathan Miller, just a man and his guitar. His set was brief but he seemed to impress the audience with his Newton Faulkner style percussive tapping, a technique that we’re increasingly seeing in local music venues (The Steve Experiment playing at Voodoo, for example).
Next up were Ciaran and Martin Tourish. Martin is considered one of Ireland’s premier musicians and he certainly looked comfortable on-stage with his accordion. I must admit that previous to this I had only ever heard an accordion outside Castle Court, so it was an enlightening experience to hear it played with Martin’s notable talent. Ciaran has been described as an internationally renowned fiddler, and is very much sought-after for his work in the band Altan. They preformed beautifully together and their Irish folk sound had the audience emotionally moved one moment and clapping their hands and stomping their feet the next.
Then it was time for the main performance of the evening as Mo and The Tiger, Matthew Baxendale and a pink haired Tanya Strowger took to the stage to play their 10-track debut album ‘Ringing In Sympathy’ in its entirety. Ciaran and Martin Tourish, as well as Joey McCall on keyboard and Sarah Devlin on cello joined them on-stage, really expanding their sound from the usual busker style. Baxendale and Strowger met while busking on the streets of Belfast, and soon began working together in a band before finally becoming a duo creating Mo and The Tiger. Both have a rich musical background and Strowger recently won the Ards Guitar Festival Songwriting Competition.
They started off with the song ‘In My Arms’, a definite crowd pleaser with its upbeat acoustic tone providing the perfect opener to their set. They had brilliant stage presence and their between-song banter was as entertaining as the set. They discussed their fourth song, ‘It’s Not Me’, saying this song fueled them to hire Martin Tourish as they felt the song wasn’t coming together without an accordion – needs more accordion, it’s the new cowbell. ‘It’s Not Me’ was my favourite song of the night and I found myself singing it in my head the next day.
They confessed it was time to do a cover, and then mentioned the American musical-drama Glee. Clearly seeing the panic in the audiences eyes they assured us that the only relation was that their cover would be a mash up, a wonderfully acoustic rendition of Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ and Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’, it worked surprisingly well. Baxendale has a folk background and is a big Bob Dylan fan, and I could really see this in his performance. Their song ‘Jagged Book’ has Baxendale playing the harmonica and he was definitely channelling Bob Dylan during that performance.
For the encore Baxendale rocked the harmonica solo before being joined again by Strowger and the others to sign off the night with their song, ‘Sweet on You’. It’s a great tune, with a slight Lumineers vibe to it. The audience’s spirits were high as they clapped along, and that concluded a fabulous night. Aardvark Records produced the album and it’s a must-listen for music aficionados looking for something light and refreshing. With their easy-listening, acoustically driven folk sound, Mo and the Tiger are definitely ones to watch.