CQAF: Aoife O’Donovan – Belfast Barge, Belfast

285793_100605993460357_2062254883_nThe 2nd of May saw Belfast hold host to more amazing music, as Massachusetts born Aoife O’Donovan took to the stage on the Belfast Barge to showcase songs from her extremely impressive debut solo album ‘Fossils’. The gig however was kicked off by the brilliantly talented Hannah McPhillimy, tasked with warming the sold out crowd up with a set of her own.

The stage had a simple basic setting, the entire night was surrounded by a feeling of chilled vibes, anticipation and good moods, as not only did the crowd know two excellent artists were about to play, but the night was a BYOB gig…and who doesn’t love a bring your own drink gig? The second Hannah McPhillimy began her set it was clear that she was bursting with raw talent; her voice was complimented beautifully by the keyboard and ukulele she played with flawless accuracy. Her set was filled with real heartfelt songs such as ‘Take Care’, ‘Kindness’ and a crowd favourite cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Days like This’. Hannah’s voice was filled with a painful honesty that filled the room and exposed her clear love for music, as her set was filled with smiles and pure enjoyment.

Aoife O’Donovan then took to the stage after we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Hannah McPhillimy after her brilliant set. From the outset Aoife’s voice grabbed every single person’s attention and held onto it until the very end of the night. Her set was constantly filled with emotion, showcasing her story telling lyrics that painted pictures of big city lights, American country sides and fun road trips, a form of pure nostalgia filled her set. She showed her immense talent on the guitar with some beautifully rhythmic finger picking accompanied by her unique voice that seemed to have no limit on what notes it could strive too. Aoife constantly interacted with the audience, making everyone there really feel part of the show, especially when the night came to an end and Aoife requested that the packed out crowd joined her in singing the final song to fill the belly of the barge with a good old fashion sing along; to which the Belfast crowd, never one to shy away from such an opportunity to sing our hearts out, were more than happy to comply.

Overall the night was filled with more perfect music, music that warms the hearts and souls of anyone that may be listening. The night was another great example of the immensely talented world that hides from view in the Belfast scene, the world that lives upon a stage and influences any that may stumble across it when randomly walking into a bar one night, it was further evidence of just how brilliant the acts are that the Northern Ireland music scene has to offer us, be it home grown or flown in from the other side of the world, all I can request to you the reader is that, if you do not already, embrace this hidden world and discover just how amazing our little piece of the globe really is. Niall Donnelly, GiggingNI.com