REVIEW: Hudson Taylor – Limelight, Belfast

 Jack Morris 01Hudson Taylor delighted the eager young fans at Mandella Hall showing off a wide range of their musical talents and vocal projections, assisted by Jack Morris and Southern.

Jack Morris opened the night with his songs of misogynous drink and drug fuelled night out, or waking up, in numerous towns and cities. While he has a distinct tone in his voice that seems to vindicate the tales within his songs, there is little that stands him apart from the vast and growing choice of acoustic singer/songwriters. Vocally comparable to Rod Stewart mixed with Tom Waits, he played played his mellow folk style songs to a somewhat bewildered crowd. This is no fault of his own, before him stood a young audience that he couldn’t fully connect with. This became abundantly clear during his rendition of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. Despite this, Jack Morris did receive a warm applause when returning on stage for Hudson Taylor’s encore to sing their new song ‘Don’t Know Why’.

Southern 03Southern arrived next on the stage, and with them came an entirely different atmosphere to the Mandella Hall. The sibling guitar playing singers, Thom and Lucy Southern with Eoghan Clifford on drums and Daryl Pruess on bass, made an instant impact with their eclectic rock styles, ranging from vocal and musical similarities to The Vines, Von Blondies, The White Stripes and even JJ72, these talented four brought a refreshing mix to the night.

Southern 04Although they may draw influence or similarities to a number of different acts and bands, they create their own feel that resonates within each song. Coming out of the relaxed vibe created by Jack Morris, Southern reveled in the energy being thrown at them from the crowd, especially as it was a homecaring set for them. Thom worked well with the audience, interacting between songs, however with some dead air on stage during slight tune-ups, there is always room for improvement. Never-the-less, Southern truly built up the audience in anticipation for the arrival of Hudson Taylor.

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When Hudson Taylor finally arrived on stage they were met with incessant cheers and screams. Almost shell shocked yet exhilarated from the deafening roars from the audience throughout the set, the two Dublin born brothers played from their EP collection and latest debut album, ‘Singing for Strangers’. Displaying a variety of talents both musically and vocally, the highlight and most memorable moment was the acoustic singing of ‘Wildfires‘. Differing from the conventional accoustic renditions that many bands would perform by, Hudson Taylor opted for no electricity at all, and sang without microphones. While the audience busied themselves with remaining quiet, Alfie and Harry went about to project their voices softly yet clearly over the striking of their guitars throguhout the hall for everyone to enjoy and become mesmerised. This feeling continued throughout the set as the audience took over the roles of Alfie and Harry, singing perfectly in tune to each song, from ‘Weapons‘ to ‘Chasing Rubies‘. From start to encore and to finish, Hudson Taylor remained a tight hold on the audience, never ceasing to stop interacting with the audience, or encouraging participation from them. The two brothers make the night seem personal and engaging, something special, as would be expected upon the homecoming journey of their UK and Ireland tour.

Despite how Hudson Taylor sound on their latest album, while performing live they produce a wholly different experience altogether that, if you are lucky, can see once again or for the first time when the two brothers return to Belfast to play at the Ulster Hall in May 2015. Joe Smyth, GiggingNI.com