Conor Scott Red EP launch with support from Brash Isaac & Car Chase City
Thursday 29th September 2016 – Voodoo, Belfast
This is a big night for Conor Scott, finally debuting his Red EP he released back in May whilst also saying farewell to his maiden city of Belfast before taking a big leap across the pond to London. The Irish traditional group which played at the beginning and between sets was a lovely touch for an event of this nature but a surprise in Voodoo. In the beginning of the evening you could see Scott buzzing about the place, excited and nervous, trying to make sure everything was right for the final shindig.
The opening band, Car Chase City, one of the newer and younger additions to the passing pop punk scene played an impressive acoustic based set. They are a surprising addition to the lineup given the massive sound that they normally produce due to the energy and musical technicalities that they exhume during each performance. It was interesting to hear old tunes from their EP ‘Sober Sense of Reality’ such as my favourite ‘Reality’, a typically pop punk song with a Northern Irish twist in the context of a Conor Scott gig.
Brash Isaac, led by Andrew Cameron, a veteran of the local music scene performing behind the drums for New Ancestors, has been making the rounds all summer. I’ve seen solo sets and full band sets at almost every festival and concert since May when they first appeared. Though Cameron certainly lives up to the name of singer-songwriter in the basic sense of the genre, the full band gives a dynamic performance adding hints of melodic rock, country, folk, pop and indie rock depending on the moment or song.
It was at this point in the evening that the atmosphere changed and it really felt like a gig in Voodoo, the audience held onto the storytelling quality of Cameron’s voice and began to recognise the songs which have been slowly released throughout the summer. My favourites from the set included ‘In the Dark’; one of the pop influenced songs released only a few weeks ago and a new song called ‘Lost’.
Finally, the main man himself, Conor Scott, set up on stage. His band were completely in sync, it was an incredibly polished performance with a solid rhythm section which acted as a base for Scott’s melodic music and beautiful, dissonant harmonies to support his unhampered, gentle but clear vocal leaps. Scott’s songwriting style clearly culminated into the Red EP. Within the songs, the melodic line clearly reflects the lyrics and takes the listener on a bit of a journey with his voice, especially in anguished love songs such as ‘Awake’ where Scott’s impressive vocal range is truly heard.
It is easy to lend your eyes and ears to Scott’s performance, his presence and passion dominate over any nerves that may have been seeping in earlier in the evening. He encapsulates joy and truly believes in his lyrics, inspiring both foot tapping and full attention from all present. The soul of songs such as ‘If I Could Sleep’ discern him from the stereotype of a young singer songwriter and simultaneously give him an edge and vulnerability during his performance which is comparable only to more mature and experienced musicians.
His set opened on his song ‘Gordon Street’, an ode to the Cathedral Quarter; arguably the heart of local music, and a reference to his early busking days. A touching song to open on, possibly a thank you to the city where it all started. Then in a full circle, his encore was the final track to the EP ‘Make it Count’. In his poetically structured set list, the song takes on a different meaning in his farewell gig as it discusses his determination, his optimism and ambition to move forward and find success in his career. This creates a bittersweet atmosphere as he is taking such a great leap forward, following his word, but it’s time to say goodbye. It is clearly an emotional time for both Conor and his friends and family. The gig ended on an unconventional “sing-along” encore of a Hozier song, emphasising the joy Conor gets from performing his music and the nature of the farewell show.
Though he bid us farewell, Belfast will certainly keep it’s eyes and ears peeled for this young man on a mission. I doubt it’s the last that we’ll see of him.