Sporting new ‘Cellar Live’ t-shirts, music aficionados Paddy and Ryan who enticed tonight’s performer to our humble corner of the world, were clearly enthusiastic about Bap Kennedy’s appearance at The Cellar Bar as were the many new faces lighting up the back room.
Mr Glasgow, inventor of these wonderful musical extravaganzas beams a smile that would blind the sun as he proudly introduces Bap Kennedy to the G Sessions.
Many a reader were present (hello all) and a few had their own take on tonight’s proceedings which included a support slot from Cellar regular Paddy Nash and his entourage.
The Derry man joined by regulars Diane, Liam and Angela and Celine Murphy, combined violin, piano, guitars, harmonica and shakers with trade mark vocals to unlock the night’s entertainment in style. Opening with new song Wish, a call of youth and love, Nash gives off the impression that if you don’t leave impressed that you maybe shouldn’t leave at all. And with a catalogue of songs that includes Girlfriend, the superbly catchy Brave and the emotionally powerful Martin (which I defy anyone not to appreciate), there is little chance of anyone going home disappointed.
It is a relatively small crowd, even Diane recognises that the noise levels aren’t exactly lifting the roof but it’s that sort of a night when noise and numbers are immaterial in comparison to the music provided. Ex Energy Orchard front-man Kennedy, in contrast to his support, has a much different style to performing as he and fellow guitarist Pete O’Hanlon take a seat throughout their routine.
Heavy undercurrents of blues are mixed with elements of country and early rock n’ roll influences throughout, with Bap on acoustic and Pete on electric.
The crowd thickens little as the night progresses but enthusiasm is high and the appreciative following are happy to find a bit of space to be able to boogie on down with their bad selves. Bap meanwhile is happy to dish out the tunes and the talented marksmanship of O’Hanlon on electric guitar is an absolute joy to listen to.
Opener Long Time A Coming and On A Mighty Ocean Of Alcohol are particularly well employed, the latter being a song written for Shane McGowan whom Bap had the pleasure of playing with the night before on English soil.
All in all it was a comfortable performance played with gusto and a clear sense of passion that is all too often lacking. Unfortunately I had to leave early, so if McGowan popped out from the back for a quick number I’m sorry not to be able to tell you about it.
So while the older crowd may have more resonance with the blues driven performance than us young bucks (“He got better as the night went on,” said one particular punter, “but Paddy Nash was better.”), there’s no denying both the songwriting and musical expertise on show tonight.
The Mid Ulster Mails Niall Kerr Reviews some past gigs @ The Cellar