The sun cast a golden glow on the sea on the final evening of the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures. After navigating the cacophony of food smells at the world food village, State shuffled, one of a flock of sheep fed mercilessly through the strange pinball machine system that festival security employed to block easy access to the gig, making one concert-goer rue the day they’d gorged on noodles and spring rolls instead of arriving at least an hour early.
But it was all worthwhile when, viewed from between the shoulders of a descendant of Big Foot and a rotund, angry Goth, a self deprecating Hannigan appeared on the Kingston Hotel’s outdoor stage. Initially, pub chatter and low sound prevented any banter from being heard. But after acknowledging the crowd in a shy but friendly manner, the songstress shed any reticence the moment she had her acoustic guitar in hand. She wielded it like an extension of herself and boy, did she intend to make it sing.
The soaring sound of her pure, silky voice hovered as those amicably holding pints and chatting hushed and took notice of the unassuming, blue-frocked light on stage. Hers is the music of a dreamer offering a glimpse of her dreams and when sound levels were improved, the content of Hannigan’s dreams shone like the crisp, touching things they were. Her happy bopping rendition of -My Pirate Disco’ popped as tracks like -Pistachio’ and -Lille’ beguiled and -Keep it All’ placed the crowd deftly into the palm of her hand. All of this was enhanced by a whimsical quirkiness, a common thread through her songs.
Like Bjork or Cathy Davey, the type of magnetism that surrounds Hannigan gives the distinct impression that you’re witnessing something very special. And, if a couple sell out gigs and the buzz surrounding her performance at The Ruby Sessions this week is anything to go by, this realisation isn’t a unique one. Positive murmurings deservedly trail her after every performance and its only getting louder as her album release date draws closer.
As the audience made its maddeningly slow exit, leaving behind empty naggin bottles and dubious looking cigarette butts, Hannigan was discussed with as much reverent enthusiasm as the early poor sound was cursed. State, spirits buoyed by the excellence of the free gig, felt inspired to stick around and dance the night away before joining a troupe of dreadlocked street drummers for some public drumming.
Having parted creative company with Damien Rice, Hannigan’s solo Sea Saw is out on September 12th followed by a few dates after her August 30th Electric Picnic appearance – two in Whelan’s (both on Sept. 20th) and The Button Factory (Sept 18th). If Dun Laoghaire’s performance is anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed.
My Pirate Disco: