The final gig of the regular nights of Other Voices in the church and there was certainly a feeling amongst the 55 crew that the end was within sight. They still had to take stage, lighting and sound rig out of the church and there are eight Irish bands recording in McCarthy’s the next day, but the main event was nearly done.
Five artists took to the Church last night. 18 played in that small space in total over four days. The first artist on night four is one of the strongest. Marina & The Diamonds proves why she has magnetised pop over the course of the last two years. Exuding an absolute superstar quality, she was the only performer this series to acknowledge and play to the camera. This is a TV show after all. ‘I Am Not A Robot’, ‘Obsessions’ and solo piano versions of ‘Shampain’ and ‘Numb’ are notably different from those on The Family Jewels album. Her stripped back set removes the electronic elements of her songs and is a perfect vehicle for her voice.
O Emperor play vintage-sounding music which belies their youth. It’s not often you get a bunch of Cork guys immersed in ’70s soft rock and with the clothes to back it up with guitarist in particular rocking a wispy tache, a flowery-looking shirt and some check pants. It was interesting to see the dynamic of the band’s debut Hither, Thither in a live setting. Paul Savage and Philip Christie share vocals duties while in terms of instrumentation, slide guitar and piano melodies dominate.
It was all short sets on day 4 so it’s on with The Minutes. The Dublin three-piece arrived in Dingle after a long journey from touring in Germany. The Minutes are straight-up no messing classic garage rock. The best kind. Just rock ‘n’ roll tunes, no pretense. The band, who also win the award for most sweat expired all week are also the first band to break the fourth wall and physically get off stage during their last song in the set. Watch out for their long overdue debut album in February.
Other Voices’ floor manager Paddy McPoland took the time in between setting up to tell the audience that there was a newly-wed couple in the front row, who had just happened to be staying in Dingle for the honeymoon and found themselves in the church. It was one of those nice things that happens at Other Voices, much like the tried and tested method of keeping the audience sweet between performances by passing around a big box of chocolates amongst the pews.
From busker to television in less than a year, Ryan Sheridan has had a superb 2010 and his fast-paced acoustic singer-songwriter music is well-received on the night. Monaghan-born Sheridan is flanked by a cájon player (a box which you hit percussively) and his face-gurning rhythmic hits on the instrument and an array of cymbals surrounding him was the highlight of the set.
And so our final act in the church, the latest addition to Other Voices having only been confirmed less than a week before, Steve Mason. The ex-Beta Band member has been through various guises over the last 10 years since with Black Affair, King Biscuit Time before settling on his own name. It’s a sign that Mason has accepted himself as an individual and artist, and that his documented battle with depression is at bay. Despite that, his acoustic set of songs from his latest album Boys Outside had a personal and cathartic feel in which songs like ‘Boys Outside’, ‘Am I Just A Man and heartbreaking ‘I Let Her In’ all featuring darkness of the mind as their dominant theme. That didn’t stop the self-confessed “whingey Scot” covering Madonna’s ‘Borderline’ however.