Last night must have been a rough one, as Dingle is empty on this Sunday afternoon. Not a soul to pass on the walk up the Main Street, but Curran’s front door does its best to stay closed when State enters. It’s a very small room but one Maud in Cahoots have packed out with curious locals.
Stationed behind the shop counter, sisters Maud and Zoe Reardon and their guitarist set about instigating a session in broad daylight. Maud captures the room’s attention with her voice and holds it with her banter; whiskey in hand, engaging easily with the room like a barmaid rather than a visiting musician.
She’s in remarkably fine voice, reaching far fetched notes without acrobatics and retaining an earthy soul throughout, while the three instruments – cello, violin and acoustic guitar – combine to pleasing effect. The guitar provides a backbone while the sisters carry the melody; and stripped of their larger chamber pop sound, they embellish the bones of their songs with their naturally entwining strings.
A rendition of ‘Road to Nowhere’ perhaps overestimates the abiding love Dingle may have for Talking Heads, but it is executed nicely. Maud’s vocal again stands out, filling the room and Curramn’s is happy to listen before being compelled to sing along on the chorus.
The Brewing Company around the corner is a rather more cold and cavernous room that dwarfs Bouts and their odes to 90s slacker rock. Regrets about staying out until 5am are voiced but they appear to be in good form otherwise. Guitarist Colin Boylan broke his foot jumping off a table at a previous gig but only the protective boot would inform you as such. The energy is high, and each song comes with a guaranteed smile and a swirl of screeching guitars.
The banter feels easy and one senses a camaraderie that may keep Bouts going beyond the day when they inevitably outgrow their love for Teenage Fanclub, Pavement and the like. For now, the excitable racket of ‘Pliable Me’ and ‘Moonraker’ and a pint of Crean’s make it all worthwhile.
Over to the Blue Zone pizzeria where Slow Skies are setting up. It’s a strange atmosphere, with people packed in around paying diners and potential customers leaving in a huff over the lack of space, but Karen Sheridan and company go down a storm, and even give into one nasal American’s demands for another song.
To start with, Sheridan’s voice sounds too affected and saccharine but she finds her mark by the time ‘On the Shore’ comes around. Second song ‘Ice Cream’ makes her sound overly fragile and her band mates seem afraid of overawing her sickly sweet timbre but not for very long. The guitar and drums are allowed to be a bit more forceful and even menacing as the set reaches it end, straining slightly farther from the band’s minimal xx-esque stylings than they do on record, and that man’s approval is well earned.
It’s a gentle, patient set: two words that could not be used to describe Nanu Nanu’s performance at An Droichead Beag. Already wary of the dayglo outfits and exposed midriffs, the crowd’s elder contingent is frightened off shortly after ‘Skin’, but the duo show an impressive commitment to their cause. ‘Alien pop’ may have been a hard sell at an event that reveres traditional singer-songwriters above all else but they are not cautious, constantly jumping around and always with a smile on their faces, easily visible under all the black light.
Laura Sheeran weaves like a snake and barks her commands like the alien empress she purports to be, while a fantastical brigade of synths rushes from the speakers. They may tread a thin line between the admirable theatricality and comical farce but they have the tunes to back them up, as ‘Seahorse’ and ‘Pocket of Gold’ can attest.
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