Friday 25th July saw three great acts get together in one of Belfast most notorious bars for an authentic Irish traditional feel, Maddens Bar. The gig was kicked off with a short set by the brilliant voice of Leanne Williams, playing through a few crowd favourites during her acoustic set, which included songs such as excellent renditions of ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and ‘Free Falling’. From the moment Leanne began her set, those of us lucky to be there were confronted by her clear natural ability to enhance the sound of simplistic chord changes with an effortless voice, making her set a fun sounding, welcoming period of time that well and truly allowed the crowd to be warmed up and ready for the next two acts.
Up next was an act that I can only describe as mind blowing, DBM, a familiar face around maddens bar blew the crowd away with his masterful fingerstyle guitar playing, reminding this writer of artists such as Andy McKee and Estas Tonne. Where many other acts may fall short of the mark when using nothing else but a guitar, DBM was able to hold the attention of every single person there with stunning compositions of crowd favourites such as Pharrell’s ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’.
During this incredible set I took the time to drag my eyes off DBM and see how the crowd around me where reacting. The best way to describe the expressions I seen slapped on the faces around me were ones that looked like Michael Jackson had risen from the dead and rode into the room on a giant guitar wielding panda while singing ‘Dirty Diana’, yes…that’s how shocked, stunned and amazed the crowd were. I fail to find much more words I could use to describe the brilliance of this acoustic artist, so I’m just going to write to you the reader that you MUST see this performer live, to pass up an opportunity to see such an amazing talent would be a huge mistake, as local talent doesn’t come much better than this.
Finally, after the crowd had recovered from DBM’s brilliant and memorable set, came time for headliners ‘No Oil Paintings’ to take to the stage. From the very beginning I could tell this band had a loyal fan base already built up, as it seemed more like a pack of friends playing to each other than a band playing to strangers. On seeing this I took the opportunity to ask a few of the audience what they thought of the band and perhaps what I should expect, it being my first time seeing them, in response I got answers such as “if you want music with heart then these are the guys” and that “No Oil Paintings ARE finger skating”.
From start to finish the band delivered brilliant cover songs among a few of their own original tracks, showcasing the bands clear individual talent as each member took turn to sing a song whilst brilliantly playing along to fast paced foot stomping bluegrass or slowed down soulful gut punchers, and showing also how excellent they’re collectively with some expert harmonising of vocals on tracks such as ‘Old Triangle’.
One of the most refreshing and underlying points of brilliance about the set was the ever more rare sound of a banjo, played by Sean Doone. It was the cherry on top of the icing on which lay on a big talented bluegrass and country cake called No Oil Paintings, a very exciting band upcoming here in our own wee part of the world that I suggest you the reader look out for when contemplating who to go see next. Niall Donnelly, GiggingNI.com