LIVE: The 4 of Us – Empire Hall, Belfast

1798830_641761359193274_683915089_nIt was a night of nostalgia at the Empire Music Hall in Belfast as Newry band The 4 of Us, featuring brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy, celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the release of their debut album, Songs For The Tempted, with a set lasting over well over 2 hours and welcoming back original band members John McKinney and Paul Murphy for guest appearances.

It was The 2 of Us beginning the show to a full house at this iconic venue with Brendan and Declan Murphy opening the show with “Sensual Thing” and “Sunlight”. With a new album due for release later this year they showcased new songs, “73” and “Good Bad News”. The good news is that they have lost none of the ability to write songs that stay true to the original The 4 of Us sound and that having heard a first listen of the new material there genuinely doesn’t appear to be any bad news.

Reminiscing about performing at family gatherings at a young age they launched into the 1946 song “Sixteen Tons”, first recorded by American country singer Merle Travis.

The audience was made up of mainly late 30’s and 40’s and tracks from “Songs for The Tempted” were very well received. The original line up delivered a number of tracks from the album, including “Fool for Temptation”, “Jolene”, “One Strong Hammer” and “Love you Christine” to name but a few, with an enthusiasm that felt like they had just released a new album rather than an album that was first released in 1989. If proof was needed that good songs stand the test of time then this section of the set proved it beyond doubt.

Declan Murphy took centre stage from Brendan for a rendition of “Lightening Paul” and there was a genuine chorus of approval from the 500 strong crowd on the night as Declan gave it everything.

Tracks from Man Alive and Classified Personal followed before the song everyone was waiting to hear and the song that definitely put The 4 of Us on the musical map of Ireland for eternity. “Mary” was the song that launched the band into the music world and it was delivered like a song that actually still meant to the band. There wasn’t an audience member who didn’t put their heart and soul into a sing along of those famous words “Oh Mary, why don’t you have some sense, please do something to restore my confidence”.

With that the band departed only to return for a rousing encore which included a cover of Girls Aloud song “Sound of the Underground”, Washington Down and a tribute to Lou Reed in the form of “Busload of Faith”, a song that the band always played many years before his death to close their live shows. My only criticism of the encore (and of the entire night) was that a second rendition of “Lightening Paul” was maybe not necessary but saying that in the end it took nothing away from what was a triumphant celebration of an album that will go down in Irish music history as a classic.

I must confess that although I loved the album back in 1989 and still do this was the first time I had seen the band live, but I’m sure it will not be the last. Michael Ferguson, GiggingNI.com