Over the past year The American Bar’s new lease of life in Sailortown has increased the regular opportunities Belfast offers, to see and hear quality, live music in a close-up, intimate setting.
If you are in an audience of fifty it’s likely you’re in an audience of fans. Friday evening proved that point, as John Spillane, balladeer of blazing cherry trees, rugby clubs, moonlit love and pubs here, pubs there, pubs anywhere and even pubs in nowhere, took to, not so much the stage, as the high-stool. From that stool, John did what Spillane fans know Spillane does best, and we were treated to a ‘best’ of John’s music [and jokes] repertoire of the past 35 years.
The one-man Hit Factory has rolled out of Passage West, Cork and is rocking up to a town near you, promoting a newly released compilation CD: Acoustic Series Volume 1, All The Ways You Wander. It’s not a re-packaging of re-issues: this is an album of new recordings – simple, acoustic versions of songs going back from now to early writings of 1982. The live show-list follows chronological order, or at least sets off with every intention of doing so. The top of the show included favourites such as “My Love Will Not Sing For Me”, from 1997’s debut solo album, The Wells Of The World.
Friday’s charmed audience were especially enthusiastic and appreciative when the first notes of songs from 2002’s hit-packed Will We Be Brilliant Or What? started: “The Dance Of The Cherry Trees”, “All The Ways You Wander”, and the title track itself, “Will We Be Brilliant Or What?”
The 2002 Brilliant Or What? album contained a version of “Princes Street” and it’s a re-recording of that song which starts off the November 2017 Acoustic Series Volume 1.
Another special series that kicked off with Friday night’s gig, is promoter Nigel Martyn’s notable new Troubadours season at The American Bar. Who better than lyric-poet John Spillane to have been the first guest? Next up is Alan Burke on Friday 17th, Wally Page on Friday 24th, Andy White on 8th December, Saoirse Casey on 15th December, and Paddy Nash on 5th January.
That jokes repertoire? Sure no harm, as long as they’re good ones. What made the hearse horse hoarse?
The coffin of course.
Review by David Boyd.