REVIEW: Robyn G Shiels – All the Little Lights Nights

atlln_rgs“All the Little Lights Nights” is the brainchild of Brown Lemonade, a company set up by four friends with the ethos of promoting Northern Ireland Music, Food and Community through a variety of events.

The first “All the Little Lights Nights” was hosted at The Fat Gherkin Deli in Moira, a quirky venue stuffed full of character and seating just 60 people. It’s safe to say that Robyn G Shiels has never played to a backdrop stage of antique doors and a chandelier style standard lamp but that’s what he got tonight and he carried it off perfectly.

Robyn G Shiels is a renowned singer songwriter in the Northern Ireland music industry and has picked up many accolades, most notably the 2014 NI Music Prize Album of the Year for his album “Blood of the Innocents”. Tonight’s gig, the last in a short 4 date tour that took in Donegal, Ballymena, London and “Rock City” Moira as Robyn has christened it, allowed him to showcase both material from this album and new material that cements his reputation as an artist who crafts songs that reveal, in part, a soul that is somewhat dark and complex but draws you in and won’t let you leave until you have heard every last piece of it.

He opened the set with “Open Road”, a track from his upcoming EP and it set the tone for the evening, one that commanded its own silence from a packed house and was met with a round of applause that felt like it was one of his most well-known tracks.

He played a number of tracks from the award winning album “Blood of the Innocents” including “This Deathly Charm” and probably his most notable song “Hello Death” which featured in the movie “Cherrybomb” starring Rupert Grint and James Nesbitt.


Robyn G Shiels at The Fat Gherkin in Moira as part of the All the Little Lights Nights with Brown Lemonade.
Robyn G Shiels at The Fat Gherkin in Moira as part of the All the Little Lights Nights with Brown Lemonade.

The song “Two Nights in June” had a story behind it which Robyn G Shiels was happy to relay to me and I quote “It’s the one that Seamus Heaney remarked on its simplicity through good structure and honesty in lyric”. Who was I to argue whether Ireland’s greatest poet actually said these exact words but they sum up the work of Robyn G Shiels so there must be a fair amount of truth in it.

Robyn G broke with his own tradition tonight and played not just one but two covers. The first was a cover of Rose Tattoos “Assault and Battery” but the second was one that produced something unbelievable at a Robyn G Shiels show, an admission on his part I might add. Some of the audience got up to dance to the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire”. I could see the look of disbelief on his face but I suppose he had to realise ultimately they were dancing to someone else’s song, and not one of his. It was one of those odd things that sometimes happen at gigs that just add to the beauty of live music and performance.

Some fifty six minutes after the first chords it was all over with “Underneath the Night of Stars”, a sort of encore and then he was gone, off to sell a table full of music material to a new audience of people, many witnessing Robyn G Shiels for the first time, but probably not for the last.