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Cedric Has A Name, Best Boy Grip, Ciaran Lavery - Catalyst Arts, Belfast

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ATL | 12:59 UK time, Friday, 15 June 2012


Cedric Has A Name, Best Boy Grip, Ciaran Lavery
Catalyst Arts, Belfast
Thursday 14th June 2012

In space, they say, no-one can hear you scream. However, in Catalyst Arts, space plays a very important role, colliding with notes and lyrics to become almost a performer in its own right. The room is wide open, all whitewashed walls and neon light, and into this void steps Ciaran Lavery, perhaps best known as frontman of country rockers Captain Kennedy. Armed only with an acoustic guitar and a soaring voice, he fills the room magnificently, his cracked and bruised tones echoing around the room, making the most beautiful of reverberations. Throwing in a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy cover for good measure, Lavery shows that he’s more than ready to take on all comers, regardless of the situation.



However, whilst the ambience of the room greatly enhanced Lavery’s performance, the sheer amount of echo threatens to overwhelm the carefully nuanced lyrics of Derry’s Best Boy Grip. With an onslaught of words being sang over a complex melody, the meaning and context is swallowed up by the room, leaving the now busy crowd somewhat baffled. However, by the second song, he’s settled into it, and what follows is nothing short of breath-taking.

Best Boy Grip’s music has a theatricality at the heart of it, and he plays up to this, introducing each song with a charming preamble, his easy going conversational tone leading into the astute lyrical worldview he presents in his songs. Over a myriad of chord changes and beautiful arrangements, his songs are an immaculately crafted bullet, aimed straight at your heart. Easily one of the most promising performers to have emerged from the country in the last few years, the future promises to be very exciting for this talented performer.

With the room pleasantly full on this wet summer night, Cedric Has a Name (aka. Chris Steenson) takes to the stage, with a backdrop of the avant-garde film Koyaanisqatsi projected onto the wall behind him. A much more unassuming performer than Lavery of Best Boy Grip, Steenson hides in the darkness, clutching his Fender Telecaster for support.

With a self-deprecating sense of humour, he acknowledges the towering task of following such accomplished performers before taking us on a whimsical and charming journey through his own work, including his new EP (which is ostensibly the reason we’re all here tonight).

Steenson doesn’t have the wounded voice of Lavery, or the good natured storytelling skills of Best Boy Grip, but he does have a way with a lyric and a melody, and reveals himself to be a talented singer songwriter, much in the mould of Eliott Smith or Graham Coxon. His voice isn’t the most expressive instrument in its own right, but within the context of his song, his world weary sigh becomes an important part of the overall picture, ennui and sincerity fighting for space in his every word. A final attempt to play the piano results in more than a few Les Dawson-esque bum notes, but acts as a suitably charming closer to a night full of atmosphere and talent. In space, no one can year you scream, but in this space, you could certainly hear the applause.

Steven Rainey



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