Thursday, September 22, 2011

Villagers Live at The Big Top,Limerick 21/09/2011 Review

The newly refurbished Milk Market is a great asset to the city, Its worth checking out at the weekends when its full of stalls with various sellers with such things for sale as jewellery, books & food.
Tonight was a different experience as the tented market was transformed to "The Big Top" - A music venue.  Its as if a tent stage from electric picnic was dropped randomly into Limerick City.
I Headed in early to see the place in gig mode. There was food stalls dotted around the outskirts of the tent including a pig on a spit, gourmet burger stalls, a coffee stand and a bar.
A sizeable stage took up all one side of the tent and the place was set for another excellent venue within the city. There has been a few gigs already here during the year but none took my fancy until the indielimerick favourite Villagers were announced.
I last saw Conor J O'Brien and his merry men play the best venue in Limerick for a gig, a small church (St.Johns Church) back in December. Check out some videos from the night Here
Before that gig he hadn't played Limerick since March 2009 supporting Bellx1 at a sold out show in Dolans (Review Here). They played that night to a crowd who had never heard of them and a crowd that had to be told to shut up talking over their small 7 song set. I thankfully picked up a copy of their limited edition 500 hand numbered "Hollow Kind EP". It truly is one of the best EP's I have ever heard, some of the songs on it were re-recorded for the debut album "Meaning of the Ritual" however I must say I preferred the raw EP versions. The album on a whole is truly an awesome body of work full of stories that will get your imagination racing. The vocals of Conor are haunting throughout and backed by a cast of amazing musicians who have been through the Irish gigging mill many times with many outfits, this record is something special. The albums has contributions from Cathy Davey , which was how I first met Conor at her gigs, as he played backing guitar for her. Conor is such a down to earth guy and extremely modest. Great to see a success story from this guy, His previous band "The Immediate" were making major splashes in the music scene in Ireland after their one and only album "In tower and clouds", I had never heard of the band until the Villagers and sought out the album, after quite some time trying to get hold of a copy I eventually did. Another amazing gem of on a Irish record, I still blast it on from time to time and love the song "There is ghost" , The band seemed to dissolve out of nowhere and Conor started about writing stories and tales as poetry that would eventually form his debut album. I can remember being a fan of his YouTube channel and being blown away by the various homemade songs being put up now and again, The music media finally caught onto this and Conor was signed to the major record label "Jaquauaug". This saw the start of the spiral that would engulf The Villagers over the last year or so. Now after just small beginnings saw Conor go through endless festival performances, Jools Holland Appearances, Mercury Prize Nominations, a No 1 Album and sold out gigs worldwide. Tonight saw the Villagers back to Limerick for their last night touring their debut album.
The first support act of the night was local band Windings, I have witnessed windings a good number of times now and its great to see a Limerick band getting exposure at gigs like this. The lads have some great releases on the Out on a Limb Record label. Its worth heading on over and checking them out here.
Next up were Hello Moon, I wrote a piece about them over here last week. The Dublin four piece were now playing to a sizeable crowd in the tent. The lead singer was stationed behind a drum kit and lashed out into a lovely long set of 12 tracks. Most of the set comprising from their debut album Only Count the Sunny Hours. The singers voice was extremely like Morrissey and they had that smiths sound throughout. The album is well worth checking out, keep an eye on them here.
Set List:
The Calculus Affair
What's Ths Use Of Falling In Love?
Here I Am
He Was A Boy
Flag On The Moon
Measure Of Me
Three More Inches
The main act clambered on stage to a now packed tent. They went straight into the massive sixteen track set. Spirits were high from a band that look like they are done with the road for awhile and are now going to take a rest and concentrate on a follow up album. We heard some new material and the crowd loved the favourites. That day sounded excellent and the band I'm sure could actually play the full set blindfolded. He said it was great to be back in Limerick and that its a fitting end to the last tour date in Ireland for a good while. It was interesting to see the band play an almost adapted set to a festival vibe, very different to the hush tones from December in the church. The crowd loved it all and hopefully we will see them back here very soon. At the end Conor ripped all the strings from his guitar in an action that symbolised the end of touring for a bit and a relief too. They bowed to a huge applause. Next time we will see them he will have new strings and hopefully a brand new album. A super venue and well done to all in Dolans for a great night!
Set List:
The Sun is Hanging
27 Stangers
Newfound Land
Set the Tigers Free
Down,Under the Sea
That Day
The Bell
Becoming a Jackal
Grateful Song
Ship of Promises

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