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Fionn Regan
Live review...
Fionn Regan
A specially constructed marquee - the Spiegeltent - is erected for the Belfast festival and this is where Regan and his band perform tonight. A magnificent structure, it's small, intimate and not without its charm and should be the perfect setting for a performer like Regan.

In a set made up from his debut album 'End Of History' and upcoming LP 'Shadow of an Empire' he shows he isn't getting complacent with his music and the new tracks show an artist intent on progressing. He starts with a few reimaginings of old tracks such as 'Underwood Typewriter' and 'Abacus' which lose some of their magic with the full band treatment. They're tracks that sound perfect on record with just Regan and his guitar as accompaniment, but with the band they don't quite sparkle the same.

Fionn's band are clearly talented musicians - he counts bass, electric guitar, drums and organ in his live show now - but I find Regan to be in his element when it's just him and his acoustic guitar. Maybe that is the folk purist in me, but the songs are more poignant this way as his performance of 'Put A Penny In The Slot' shows. With his unique voice and tales of unrequited love, it is here were the music really soars. 'Cowshed' and 'Bunker and Basement' also stay true to the original versions and are some of the more captivating songs on offer.

There is evidence that the full band does have its place in Regan's music as he comes out for a rendition of 'Hey Rabbit' on his own, but towards the end is joined by his band mates and it turns into something of an opus.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the gig is how well mannered the crowd is. A chatty crowd is the bane of many a singer songwriters existence but everyone is impeccably observant for the duration of the gig.

I've seen Fionn Regan a few times and something that is always evident is that he is quite an aloof character. There's no stage banter or crowd interaction with the exception of introducing the songs, and this makes it difficult to warm to him as much as we'd probably like too. A great songwriter is also usually a great storyteller on the stage, but in the case of Fionn Regan this doesn't appear to be the case.

The new tracks sound great, with the acoustic tracks containing the same charm as the first LP, and other tracks seeing Regan strap on an electric guitar and delving into Americana territory. It's not quite Dylan goes Electric but it's not a million miles away from it either.

A pretty solid gig but maybe a bit more stage presence is needed to take his live show to the next level.

Paul Mullin

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Gig Details
Venue: Spiegeltent
Location: Belfast
Date: 20/10/2009

Related Links
+ Fionn Regan (myspace)