Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Duncan Maitland at Stags Head Raw

A new live music club night opened its doors for the very first time upstairs in The Stags Head on Sunday. "Raw" is a welcome addition to the Dublin music scene. The Venue is intimate. The sound is good and the atmosphere is laid back. Upcoming acts include indie favourites Ham Sandwich, The Shoos and Dermot Lambert of Dublin electro pop act Blink, And with many more quality acts being confirmed, it looks as if Raw could quickly become a staple of the Dublin circuit.

The night kicks off with with Niall Brennan. The former lead singer of cult late 90's alt country act The Prescriptions. The band received rave reviews for several EP's; before folding, following the recording of their unreleased debut album.  Brennan's voice is distinctively broad and gravely. He delivers a composed performance including Prescriptions material and more recent compositions. The haunting balled "Alaska" and the jazz standard style "Flight of the Innocents" are among the highlights of the set, from this songwriter's songwriter.

Barry O'Brien from powerpop act Slumberjet delivers a solo acoustic set of uptempo melodic songs from Slumberjet's critically acclaimed 2010 self titled debut album. The influence of Elvis Costello, think "Watching The Detectives" and Jason Faulkner is audible from the off, especially on songs such as"The Letter".   O'Brien's rhythm playing is so hard that it puts a mild natural distortion effect to his guitar in places. Giving it just the right amount of umph.  

O'Brien's vocals are smooth with a great range leading into falsetto territory. At times they are reminiscent of Elvis Costello with a Beach Boys twist. On the basis of this performance we look forwards to seeing O'Brien in full Slumberjet mode in the future.

Duncan Maitland finished the night off with a high quality performance of songs from his critically acclaimed debut album "Lullabies for the 20th Century". Maitland is joined on stage by one of Ireland's premier bassmen Geoff Dorman. The addition of Dorman gives Maitland's performance more of a group feel. 

An excellent rendition of David Bowie's "Kooks" dedicated to Maitland's new born son "Daniel" was an early singalong highlight. While "Horror Stories" and "Somebody Told Me About the Ending" highlighted Maitland's own considerable songwriting skills.

Having previously worked with acts such as XTC and Pugwash, Maitland is best known as the former principle songwriter in Irish band Picturehouse. He delivers a jaunty rendition of the hit single"Heavenly Day" which he penned whilst in the band.

Other highlights of the set include a segway from new song "Love Chain" into a mini version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". and the excellent genre hopping "Insect Under the Stone" which sees Maitland mix it up in Bobby Darin territory with a psychedelic twist. Overall a top class performance from one of Ireland's most criminally overlooked artists.

No comments: