The Skylite Room in Warrenpoint is fast developing reputation as the place to go for good live music. With acts as diverse as Aslan, King Kong Company and Screaming Eagles appearing there over the last few months there’s been something to suit everyone. Saturday night saw Dublin icon, singer-songwriter Paddy Casey visit the venue for the second time in twelve months.
As he sidled unassumingly onto the stage at just after 11pm he received an enthusiastic welcome. It was as though time had stood still; the years have barely changed him, he still has the same mop of curls, the same boyish looks as when he first started releasing music almost twenty years go. With a gentle greeting to the audience he started off his set with There Will be Love, followed by the catchy Addicted to Company.
Before The Lucky One, Casey encouraged the lively crowd to sing and dance to their hearts’ content. Obediently, a grooving group of audience members filled the dancefloor, with support artist for the night Daragh McSloy front and centre. Then Promised Land he jested, was inspired by the lovely Warrenpoint! An old favourite, Whatever Gets You True was dedicated to anyone old enough to remember 1999.
It was at this point I realised that this was one of those gigs where I went along thinking that I quite like the artist and I’d probably know a few of the songs, only to discover that I knew almost every one! The friends in my company agreed that for thirty somethings on a rare night out, this was a nostalgic trip back to the early noughties and that Casey is responsible for a lot more of the enduring tunes from the soundtrack of that era than we had realised.
Exquisite ballads like Everybody Wants and Sweet Suburban Sky are Paddy Casey’s bread and butter but they can still be very affecting, so emotive and fresh is his delivery of these classics. Besides the standards we were treated to a couple of new singles which were very well received; Everything Must Change and Turn This Ship Around which had a rousing audience participation segment.
Casey is a very versatile performer and painfully poignant laments such as Fear are played side-by-side with jaunty, up-tempo numbers like I’m Not Out to Get You. Then Livin’ inspired one particularly smoochy couple to get romantic on the dance floor. An eight-minute-long version of Power of Love followed by Bend Down Low from the EP of the same name paved the way to the finale and the track everyone was waiting for; the much-loved Saints and Sinners. This is one of those songs that is just part of the collective Irish psyche and will get any Irish crowd to their feet from the first note.
For the encore there were a couple of covers and it’s always a delight when an artist covers the last songs you’d expect them to; Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book were so much fun. A highlight of the night for me though was a really ballsy version of No Diggity – not what I’d anticipated from the soft-spoken Dub but an outstanding cover.
Backstage after the show Paddy made me a cup of tea while I asked him about what the future has in store. His forthcoming album he hopes will be released in January. He’s excited he tells me to be pressing an album in vinyl for the first time and about a collaboration with fellow Irish artist Kim Hayden. Curious to know what inspires him to keep making music I asked about his major influences. As a kid he said he was really inspired by Prince, wanting to mimic the legend’s ability to do everything himself; the writing, the singing, the production, playing all the instruments. “I always wanted to make music from scratch” he said. “To be the painter, not to have someone come along afterwards and colour it in for you”.
Being a jobbing musician and gigging pretty much all the time he says that he rarely gets the chance to see other artists play, and when he does he says he just gets jealous, wanting to be up there himself. That prompted me to ask him what song by another artist did he wish he’d written and with little hesitation he said the song made famous by Stevie Wonder, For Once in My Life. Good call!
With a long drive ahead of him home to Kildare, we called it a night. On his way out, Paddy graciously spoke to a few fans who were still hanging around and posed for pictures even though it was approaching 2 am. The affection in which he is held and the longevity of his best-known songs marks Paddy Casey as a true Irish star. He told me that he loves Northern Irish audiences who he says are great fun and really up for it so there should be plenty more chances to catch him live up here soon.