Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fionn Regan live at Dolans 06/03/2010 REVIEW

I last witnessed Fionn two years ago on a freezing cold November night. The gig was on upstairs, which became way too packed and I was dying with the flu, but despite this I went away from that gig extremely satisfied and in a great mood. If an act can do that to you when you’re feeling utterly miserable, they must have something special. Review here Fionn's debut album "The End of History" is one of those albums that you find yourself returning to at least once a month. You can’t help but fall in love with the songs and stories that he weaves. It’s been a long, anxious wait for his second album for fans - four years to be precise. However, in this time Fionn didn’t just rest on his laurels and twiddle his thumbs, he has been recording feverishly since the debut. If anything this follow up record is actually his third. The original successor to the debut was recorded by Ethan Johns and subsequently turned down by the record company. This is reminiscent of when Ryan Adams had trouble releasing his 2004 album "Love is Hell", in the end releasing the album on his own independently. Funnily enough, the record company at the centre of both these entanglements was "lost Highway". Also Ryan had worked with Ethan John several times. Fionn's story is quite similar. He went off to produce a new second album by himself using the labels Heavenly Records (UK) and Universal Records (IE). The result is "Shadow of An Empire", which strikes a stark contrast with the mellow acoustic feel of his debut. The new direction taken by Regan conjures comparisons with ‘Dylan going Electric’ if you like, but there is nobody yelling Judas at this songwriter. This album sees Regan’s meandering storytelling reinforced with the power of a full band. Indeed, the move from solo song-smith to the company of band members seems to have had an impact on the songs themselves, which move from classic acoustic moments to powerful, intensified bursts of electricity. Quite simply, it’s just an amazing album from start to finish which still holds the troubadour’s charm of storytelling and his unique viewpoint on life. Much like the contrast in albums, tonight sees a contrast in gigs as two years on we see Fionn take stage in the warehouse with a full band - the only thing staying the same is the Congregation who have gathered patiently.
The support act, “Danny & The Champions of the World” take to the stage. The five-piece play a lovely foot stomping set of six songs mainly taken from their new release “Streets of our Time”. Throughout the set, the familiarity of the singers voice had me searching for a comparison and then it hits me - A gravely Jon Bon Jovi – had he gone down the folk rock route. Their sound reminds me of Okkervil River mashed with Arcade Fire and a dash of the Gaslight Anthem. I picked up a copy of their latest offering and its well worth checking these guys out for yourself here: As they finish their set they tell us they will see us once more in the guise of Fionn’s backing band! Danny & The Champions of the World Set List : Henry the Van Restless Feet Lose These Rags Red Tree Song These Days Follow the River
On comes Mr.Regan to rousing applause. The perennially quirky singer is oozing an air of kookiness that comes with the territory, sporting a winter hat not out of place outside a ski lodge aloft his now trademark bowl haircut. He is also fashioning what looks like an extravagant pearl necklace. The first song is one from his debut album. However, all these songs are getting a big band make-over as the previous acoustic “Hey Rabbit” is now met with sweeping drums, keyboards and tambourine. This happens throughout the night as all the debut albums songs get mini make-overs. The new album sounds absolutely brilliant live. The first from the new offering being showcased was that of “Coathook”, this was my instant favourite from “The Shadow of an Empire”. It boldly hits you hard and really shows how Mr-Regan can be excellently diverse. The big band progression has worked so well and the potential of this album has truly been realised on stage. Fionn interweaves both albums in the set, five songs in and he opts to play solo for “Put a Penny In the Slot” before being joined by the band once again and blasting into “Violent Demenour” - another massive song from the new album with an infectious chorus that will have you singing it in your head for days. Another five songs later they retire back stage before returning for a two song encore. The set list billed “Shadow of an Empire” as the first of the two but a member of the crowd requests the delightful “Little Nancy” as she herself has one of her own at home. The band leaves fionn to play an almost tear jerking version of “Be Good or be gone”. He turned off the amps to play the last few lines acoustically with the whole crowd joining in. There was not a hair lying down on anyone’s neck I reckon. He is surely one of the best home grown talents that Ireland has ever had. Thank you for such a great night. Fionn Regan's Set List Hey Rabbit House Detective Coat Hook Catacombs Lines Written In Winter The Underwood Typewriter Put A Penny In The Slot Violent Demeanour Hunters Map Protection Racket Genocide Matinee Lord Help My Poor Soul Encore: Little Nancy Be Good Or Be Gone

1 comment:

Tuxedo Shirt said...

I missed this one.. i missed this gig. he looks cool anyway that day!