For someone who was the recent winner of a major music industry award, Speech Debelle has had a tough ride, with the knives seemingly out from the moment she picked up the cheque. Many of the crowd who arrive into the basement of the Academy on Abbey Street to see her make her Irish debut probably aren’t as critical, but surely didn’t expect her to be such a exceptionally sweet, warm and funny character. It’s virtually an unplugged set with her music backing being supplied by drums, an acoustic guitar and a double bass, but the simple arrangements of the songs suit her voice and style of performing. She raps in her own accent, almost in a style as if she’s telling a close friend a story of something that just happened to her. Throughout her set she chats to the crowd, joking and making the guys in the front row blush when she charms them with her bewitching soft London accent.
After a few songs, she starts to relax and settle into the laid back vibe that she’s brought to the venue, claiming that she and her band have been drinking Guinness since they landed in Dublin. She recalls in wonder watching a man earlier in the day down a pint of the black stuff in one go and not disturbing the head of the pint. Welcome to Ireland Speech.
The crowd seem genuinely happy to share in the recent spotlight which has been thrust upon her. She jokes about how none of her band would wear skinny jeans and all the NME reading kids aren’t happy with her recent award winning album. After a much demanded encore of ‘Speech Therapy’, she doesn’t leave the stage – instead happily chatting to and posing with the fans. Based on her performance on this night, she is bound to be back again soon but it seems unlikely she’ll have the luxury or being able to perform such an intimate venue with such a relaxed and joyous atmosphere, whatever her critics would wish.
Photos – James Goulden. Click to enlarge.