David C Clements with support from Jamie Neish
Monday 21st December 2015 – Empire Music Hall, Belfast
After spending time overseas, it had been over a year since my last local Northern Irish gig. These were one of the things I missed the most about this little spot in the world, the ability to turn some of the smaller musical gatherings into magic.
It was freezing outside and my shoes were saturated after just a four minute walk to the Empire Music Hall. I love this venue, and it was perfect for Old Fang’s debut show playing host to David C Clements and the support act, Jamie Neish. Granted there were some pretty disappointing sound issues throughout the show that took away from the experience slightly, but did not tarnish the music in any unforgiveable way.
I have a particular soft spot for Christmas shows like this, dating back to the Lowly Knights occupation of the John Hewitt Bar some years ago one snowy Christmas time. It’s special when local music lovers come together out of the cold and into the warmth; old friends home for the holidays and catching up between acts. It’s just special.
Jamie Neish, fresh and focused on his solo material following the disbandment of More Than Conquerors stepped out first and discovered the sound issues that would haunt the engineers that night. This prompted a couple false starts. Luckily Neish is so at ease on stage that he was able to take it in his stride and once again delivered a prematurely established and heartfelt performance.
David C Clements is one of the more established local acts, through more of sureness in his talent, rather than relentless activity. It’s been a pretty quiet two years for the songwriter and fans have waited patiently for the announcements of new music; coming in the form of the ‘My Dear Mother EP’ (out now) and his debut album ‘The Longest Day In History’, due to be released early this year. This show gave him the opportunity to showcase some of his hard work and repay some patience, and having supported Ed Sheeran and Of Monster and Men in recent times, that pressure did not stifle him in any way.
Once described by Gary Lightbody as Northern Ireland’s Bruce Springsteen, Clements’ new material shows a shift away from the Americana sounds he previously delved in. ‘My Dear Mother’ and ‘When We Go’ are pace filled with electric-guitar wave goodness, sounding as a four piece band should – enhancing the foot tapping/stomping urge of the audience. Older songs such as ‘On The Border’ were delivered with aplomb, some SixStarHotel remnants and a couple of Christmas numbers were pulled out for the occasion too, but the highlight for me on the night was a cover. Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’ was the perfect fit for the night; the silence of the sold out crowd and the delicate heart-wrenching rendition perfectly battled the elements of December Belfast outside.
David C Clements music brought people together at Christmas time before they hugged for another year, and it’s hard to find something more fulfilling or beautiful than that.