Sat. 10th March 2007
A strong crowd of mixed denominations and genders filled the Cellar Bar in Draperstown for this solo acoustic gig to see the Derry bluesy singer/songwriter strut his stuff. Up first however, Ruairi O’Doherty, formerly of Little Hooks fame treated the appreciative audience to the first hearing of what is sure to be a promising solo career.
Playing five songs, one named after each number, the Christy Moore like performer (in song and stature) did little wrong. Any nerves for his first exhibition were non-existent as he rattled through the songs powerfully. Keep an eye on any future dates, Little Hooks may be gone but the music is not.
Paul Casey tool to the stage soon after belting out songs from his two albums Songs In Open Tuning and Slow Water, the latter released in November of last year. Derry born Casey, who has risen to prominence thanks in large part to mentor and idol Chris Rea, displays an excellent slide guitar playing ability and his songs are at times brilliantly beautiful and at others strikingly powerful.
The word unique maybe often over-used, particularly when it comes to singer/songwriters, but in this instance there is no doubting that Casey is a sublimely original talent. Such is the scope of Casey’s vocal and musical abilities that at times you could imagine yourself on a sunny beach and at others in the heart of America’s deep south. Casey will himself admit that he is most at home playing with a full band but on this small and intimate stage he looks equally as comfortable.
She Could Be and Thanks For Letting Me Crash were particular highlights on the night, not least for the stories behind them (the latter involving a house party, copious amounts of alcohol and a cupboard). Different Planet was introduced soon after as a song written just two days after the September 11 attacks. Not only does it rank with Leaders Of The Free World as one of the best views of our modern society but again highlights Casey’s far-reaching scope.
Renditions from Slow Water were also well received but in all honesty sound much more powerful and deliver a hell of a bigger punch on the album. Sounding at times like Stephen Fretwell thrown into the melting pot with Chris Rea and Dave Matthews, Casey’s second album is well worth a listen. Stay, a song co-written with Rea and my particular favourite, the eight minute long Slow Water show just what he can do with the full force of a band and at times a choir.
Not only does Casey have the ability to be unique but is also widely accessible, as highlighted by Storm In A Teacup which would even have your granny kicking her heels up. Lyla, You Said and Help You Swim are equally slow and emotive and harrowing and beautiful. The album also boasts a twenty minute DVD of Paul’s solo performance filmed at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham as part of the Chris Rea farewell tour.
The Mid Ulster Mails Niall Kerr Reviews some past gigs @ The Cellar