There’s the typical idea of an Irish singer songwriter and then there’s Si Schroeder. Over the years this Dublin-based musician (formerly of early ’90s indie duo Schroeder’s Cat) has built a small following with his mix of electronic-accented folk coupled with his musings about a rapidly changing Irish society. During this time his efforts have seen acclaim from critics for having incorporated elements into a sub-genre that seemed to be exhausted by the late noughties. Now he’s back for a three week residency in Whelan’s, playing songs of his critically acclaimed 2006 album Coping Mechanisms as well as some new songs from this year’s follow up Holding Patterns. He’s not, it seems, a man to be rushed, it seems.
The night has a shaky start however; technical hiccups have pushed him taking the stage by 45 minutes and the room takes time to fill. Both are soon forgotten however as Si, alongside guitarist Mark Jordan and drummer Brian O’Connell begin their first set. The band starts off tight and maintains a steady momentum throughout the night. This confidence particularly shows early on during ‘Clocked’, the recent single from Holding Patterns, with the trio showing genuine pleasure in their task.
Whatever table-side banter that being held early on is quickly muted when Si begins the opening notes of ‘Jump Ship’, his slow-building acoustic number that builds towards a distorted wall of sound that sees Mark furiously strumming as the overdrive fills every corner of the room. It’s to the band’s credit that this mix of music never jars; whether playing acoustic or electric, or even sitting behind a pedal organ they is able to keep our attention. Even as the songs become more electronically orientated (‘Lavendermist’ has a tinge of a With Teeth-era Nine Inch Nails to it) he is able to maintain the connection established with the crowd earlier in the evening. Though his live presence has been somewhat erratic in the past, this is a man nonetheless completely comfortable in his own musical skin and it’s good to have him back.