David C Clements - The Empire, Belfast
The Empire, Belfast
Sunday 30th Setpember
Walking in to The Empire tonight you could hear a pin drop, Hannah McPhillimy has just begun her set and people seem to be enraptured in her performance, you'd think it was the final act of the night. Hannah sets the bar high for the rest of the evening with a 'niche' cover of Al Green's 'Tired Of Being Alone' and bares her soul in her take on the prodigal son parable, 'Homecoming'. With a voice reminiscent of Regina Spektor, she shows, along with her trusty ukelele, that less really is more.
Not too long after that four lads from Derry called Little Bear appear on the stage and kick their set off with 'The Devil Is A Songbird', a brilliant, broody song. A band with variety, they speed things up with 'The Few and Far Between', demonstrating Steven McCool's brilliant vocal chords and how cohesive a unit they really are, their voices all rising as one during the chorus. We're coming to the end of their set and they play a song that Elliott Smith would have been proud of called 'I'd Let You Win', a spine tingling effort that has more than a couple of people singing along at the front. They reach their final song of the evening and it's drummer Mark O'Doherty's time to shine with 'Second In Line', they bring the tempo right back up again and finish on a high. Simply put they are a fantastic live band.
Second to last it's Cara Sebastian, her song 'Bird and Bone' receives a lukewarm reception from the crowd who don't seem to be all that interested anymore. It's as minimalist as you can get and this lends well to her quite frankly stunning voice, but it was hard to discern any sort of melody from the guitar due to the growing noise of the audience. Things change though when she plays her new song 'Darwin', slow and thoughtful it showcases Cara at her best and illustrates the talent that this singer songwriter from London possesses.
At last it's the turn of Belfast's own David C. Clements, described by Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody as “Northern Ireland's Bruce Springsteen”. This has to be something special and sure enough they fill the room with a glorious noise as they get the ball rolling with the tentatively titled 'When We Go We'll Have It All'.
The room is full of life as they move into 'Not Sleeping', an impressive toe tapper of a tune that possesses a monumental build up to the final chorus. We're then treated to 'Poor Boy' a song that only raises the feeling of exhilaration and excitement in the hall and as the crowd reaches fever pitch they give us 'On The Border', a song with real character and emotion. There is the small matter of an encore though, the biggest cheer all night goes up in the hall when the first few notes of 'Hurricane' are heard, and rightly so. This six minute long gem from 'The Longest Day In History' has charm, charisma, soul and brings an enchanting set to a fitting end.
James J Magill