FRIDAY 27TH MARCH
Word by – The Hypnotyst
As we arrive the atmosphere is distinctly subdued, more like a business meeting than a concert venue. The support act The Tree Sleepers warm the crowd up very well with their blend of gypsy, folk and punk. They are West Cork regulars and get the crowd enthused.
Vann Music take to the stage and kick into their set. They have an impressive array of musical equipment on stage: a few Fender guitars (Telecasters and Stratocasters), bass, Korg synths, laptops, MIDI controllers of various types; and of course live drums. The crowd are widely dispersed and the band are trying to pull them together with their music. Vann Music seem to engage the audience in an unusual way, through the power of their hypnotic music. The music stays at a steady tempo through out the concert, which gives this listener the feeling that we are listening to a hypnotic meditation. Most of their music has a very “samey” feeling to it, but in this lies it’s full impact and power. Their sound is very reminiscent of early U2 from the 80s, in addition to U2 from the 90s, when they were going through their electronic music phase. Vann Music are very adept at combining these 2 styles together, to produce their own blend of synthy indie. The usual “ebb and flow” of musical emotions and musical intensity one comes to expect when watching a gig, are abandoned in favor of this hypnotic feeling the band produce. We are treated to a new song which has not been performed before and their Number 1 hit “Boy”. This song is my personal favorite of the band’s, and reflects the peak of their song writing.
The two guitarists in the band are constantly switching between synths and guitars, which adds to the musical diversity of the show, as the lead singer and drummer stick to their positions, anchoring the audience into their way performing music. During the set, the singer informs us that this is the biggest crowd we have played to in Cork. Claiming that there were only four people in the audience the first time. We can see that they have grown from strength to strength. They have come very far since their inception and will no doubt have much further to go, and much more to offer the world in terms of music. As the final song of the night we are treated to an excellent cover of the almighty David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” This was the climax point of the whole gig, which left the audience with something to hum on the way home. This reviewer felt at peace when leaving the venue, knowing that there are many more great things to come for Vann Music.
The band have also just been confirmed for the Castlepalooza Festival, which should be an excellent summer concert. I, for one, cannot wait.
Crowley’s Music Centre Cork is a relatively new venue that has taken its place above The Oliver Plunkett Bar Cork City. It is a music shop by day and a venue by night giving it a unique quality and making it throughly musical. It is the perfect space for acoustic sessions as well as full band performances. Wednesday nights proformance drew a nice crowd. The gig starts with support from Anto Yao, small acoustic set, with his quirky acoustic hip hop flavours. Then we have Diarmuid O’Leary with his very intimate story-songs, also acoustic guitar and one man.
Kev M and band take to the stage, Excellent atmosphere, intimately lit, 7 acoustic guitars arranged in a perfect pattern on stage, it looked like Kev M’s version of a jazz big band, but without the jazz, and more of electro folk. All of course tied perfectly together with his amazing vocal abilities. Most of the time soaring above the music and the band, reaching every single listeners ears with the same intensity, causing spine chilling moments! We get the real sense that this man has something to say, and he is beckoning you to listen to his stories, ranging from life to death, and love to hate. Encompassing the full range of human emotions, In this writers opinion the whole point of creating musical art in the first place!
People are now full attention, and the band are ready to entertain. The first song is “Pretty Love” which only has the man himself Kev M playing acoustic as a solo song. This is typical of his style, telling a story and enticing the listener to Kev M’s internal world, through his sublime falsetto vocals. He warmly connects with the audience between songs, cracking jokes and telling anecdotes, and sometimes giving us insight into what made him create certain songs. The next song is his most famous to date the very haunting “Your Version.” This is when the full bands joins in, creating a never heard before fuller arrangement of this “opposite of love” song. This was highly entertaining, it involved lovely haunting violin melodies, delayed double stopping, electric guitar lead ebow, and gentle conga rhythms accompanying the song; quite an unusual arrangement, but very effective. By now the gig is in full swing with the audience barely even breathing as the atmosphere is so electric with Kev M’s reverberating powerful vocals, and his band in full support. “Slip Away” is in a similar vein, with the fantastic 3 part harmonies provided by Dee, and Aaron, then the song takes on an Irish traditional music feel, as the whole band kicks in. “I’m Sorry” sounds like one man’s lament, reminiscent of Renaissance composers, singing about losing a lover or a similar melancholic feeling. This song grew in intensity, creating a journey like feel. This writer gets this feeling most of the time when listening to this extra ordinary artist Kev M.
The next song is the most upbeat in the set, with a very happy, uplifting feel. This is the point where the audience are treated to some new, unreleased material, which will be featured on Kevins new album. These are reminiscent of the Doors trippier style of music. Having a very “jam style” feel to them. They sounded wonderfully refreshing, a definite change in a new direction for this man, and a great one it is! Jack O Rourke is featured on one of the songs, lending his piano skill and powerful harmonies to the big band experience. The interplay between Kevin and Jack’s harmonies caught the attention of the whole venue, with the audience listening to every note intently. The musicians were on fire at this point, enthralling the audience with the inspirational music of this intriguing man. Mixing gentle music with an extremely powerful message, and intent, as the gig ones to an end, we know we have just witnessed one of the finest gigs of this year, by one of the finest musicians Ireland has to offer.