Ciaran Lavery – Kosher Ep Launch with support from Silences & Kate O’Callaghan
Thursday 19th June 2014 – Black Box, Belfast
Emerging from Captain Kennedy, Ciaran Lavery has set himself up as a central part in the Northern Irish Singer Songwriter genre. 2013 saw him release debut album Not Nearly Dark as well as covers EP Other People Wrote These, to wide praise. 2014 sees Lavery re- emerge with a new EP Kosher. An Ep that sees him move slightly away from the normalities of his troubadour stylings. With this gig Ciaran launches his new EP with the help of Open House Festival in a fully seated Black Box.
Beginning the evening are the Armagh based 5 piece Silences. This band has appeared on several ones to watch lists with TV appearances including RTE’s Other Voices. Going into the set though I was unsure of my expectations, this being the first time I had seen them play live. I was however, charmed by their full flawless four part harmonies and arrangements, as well as lead singer Conchúr White’s beautiful falsetto. Lead EP Single ‘Santa Cruz’, was a song that drew the ever growing crowd into the palm of their hand, as well as ‘Chase Me Home’. I expect big things to come from this band in the future, and look forward to catching them at a few festivals during the summer and beyond.
Second act Kate O’Callaghan provides a change between the 2 full band acts of this evening. Accompanied by her husband on the fiddle she presents an appropriately summery sound as she changes between ukulele and guitar. Hailing from Co. Donegal there is a definite tinge of Irish folk to both her lyrics and arrangement. The duo possess a great stage presence and a carefree ability to simply have fun while under a spot light as they harmonise with some feedback that instruments produce. Going from song to song the audience is wooed by songs like ‘Why’ and ‘Without You’ (Or at least those were the names I picked up on) however the highlight of the set was the final, unrecorded song ‘Stone by Stone’, which began with acapella harmonies before moving into a finger picking main section. This song, despite being new provides a great close to an endearing set.
Finally Ciaran Lavery takes to the stage. One criticism I have heard of his solo performances is his need for a band to fill in the musical side of things. On this EP (Kosher) and for tonight’s show there is no problem on that front as a full band (4 piece) is present. The set begins with ‘A Ragtime Song’, a new track off the EP. Immediately Ciaran’s gravelly voice draws in the audience and tugs at their heart strings, making them feel every piece of the story that brought this song about. From there, the single ‘Left in America’ filled out by the band shows the progress as an artist that Ciaran has made in the last 16 months. As the evening progresses we hear older songs ‘Shame’ and ‘Turning to Rust’ as well as a well placed 80’s cover of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘All Night Long’. All of this shows off Lavery’s creative side both lyically as well as musically. In the break between songs he jokes about the seated format of tonight’s show, explaining that his songs are not quite dancing music. However despite this fact both of the evening’s up tempo songs ‘Boxer’ and ‘Orphan’ pack a punch that perhaps does not occur in Lavery’s slower songs. The band are an incredible addition to Ciaran’s sound providing it a depth and expression that brings these songs to a new level compared to his solo performances. The highlight of the evening however was actually a solo, unrecorded song ‘Tell them all’. As a reviewer, I keep out a note pad or phone to take notes during a performance, so I don’t miss anything. However in very rare cases I simply have to put down the phone or notepad and watch as something just short of magic occurs. This was one of those moments, a lyrical and musical masterclass.
Upon announcing the final song in the set Ciaran was met with the typically Belfast “Wise Up!” from a gentleman in the audience. Having had the benefit of seeing this show twice (Portstewart and Belfast) and I came away on both occasions, blown away and longing for more. I wait with baited breath to see and hear what Ciaran Lavery does next.