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Let's Get Soaked

Stuart Bailie | 18:03 UK time, Sunday, 4 November 2012

If I could do some time travel in the name of rock and roll, I might opt for Bob Dylan, 1961, Greenwich Village. I would follow him around the Café Wha and the Gaslight, across Washington Square and Gerde's Folk City. I would witness this ambitious boy from the mid-west, learning how to work his songs, to create drama and humour, to move a subculture and to swiftly grow into that immense, maddening talent.

Until the time travel machine is beta tested, I will console myself with yet another Soak gig. I've seen her maybe eight times this year and it's always an event. Each time, Bridie gets more confident in her own skin, she allows those songs to grow more splendid while the audience is increasingly wowed.

This most recent occasion is an all-ages gig in Belfast and she nails it, hilariously. "I normally play for elderly people," she quips. Meaning us folks at the back. However, near the front, there's a circle of her peers, intent on each word, emotionally connected to the words about moving schools and losing dear friends.

There's a brand new tune, apparently without a title, that sketches out the pure shiver of a close relationship. There's an "embryo" song called 'Forget' that also trails the extremes of love. And she closes with a version of Bon Iver's 'I Can't Make you Love Me' that is delivered with sheer authority and heart.

We play a game of 'spot the record company guy'. Maybe five of them here tonight. They have the mannered haircuts, the expensively downbeat jeans and the body posture of music biz ennui. A few of them have sharpened up considerably by the end of the night and well they should. You see, this kind of potential only rarely announces itself. And right now, this is Soak, before the deluge.

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