Live Review: Ciaran Lavery

CIARAN LAVERY – NICE N SLEAZY’S – 16/10

Ciaran Lavery opens his set singing a capella, accompanied only by the steady drumming of his hand on his guitar.  His voice is both powerful and fragile, room-filling yet breathy and soft.

 When he begins to play his talent for guitar is immediately obvious, exerting impressive control over its sound, rising quickly to a crescendo then dropping to a whisper in an instant.  He segues from his opening song into a cover of The Weeknd’s ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ – under normal circumstances I am vehemently opposed to white men with guitars covering R&B bangers, having heard too many soulless versions of Destiny’s Child classics of an afternoon on Buchanan Street, but here it feels genuine and honest in a way that has me rapt.  That’s Lavery’s appeal amongst the wide crowd of acoustic guitar singer-songwriters: the feeling of truthfulness in his music, largely tranquil, calm folk full of beautifully light guitar and a surprising catchiness.  

As a stage presence, Lavery is quietly charismatic and chatty, asking how far people have travelled to get to this gig, then if anyone has simply travelled long way from where they were born – someone shouts “Nigeria!”, another “New Zealand!”, then announces he will tweet that people have travelled from there just for this gig.  Sleazy’s is a venue usually hosting noisier gigs but it turns out to be excellent for this quieter fare, people sitting cross legged on the floor or leaning on the bar; there’s a cosiness about it despite the sticky nightclub floor.  Closing with ‘Left for America’ which has the breezy, wanderlust-filled vibes of early Bob Dylan, he thanks the audience, venue, and sound-man before inviting us all for a chat at the bar.

 There’s a real before-they-were-famous vibe at this gig – Lavery’s songwriting talent is clearly something special, and his most played song on Spotify has almost reached 12 million plays.  I feel privileged to have caught this small, peaceful affair – he may very well be headed for the big time.

[Clare Patterson –@clurrpatterson]

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