Review: Sorcha Richardson at Whelan’s UpstairsTweet
Sorcha Richardson at Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin
Review by Niall Swan
A sold-out crowd at Whelan’s Upstairs saw the homecoming of New York based singer/songwriter Sorcha Richardson on Wednesday night. The Dublin born 21-year-old was playing her first headline slot in her home town since emigrating to New York to pursue her studies. It was an incredible turnout for a young woman whose popularity has sky-rocketed in Ireland in recent months with guest slots on Spin 103.8 and Phantom 105.2 to name but a few. Sorcha could scarcely believe the number of people present as she told an anecdote about playing a show in New York to a few barmen and two “drunken auld fellas”.
At last week’s Stag’s Head Raw gig, Sorcha had played support to Slow Skies but this week roles were reversed as the musical project of Karen Sheridan was given the task of warming up the expectant crowd. Sheridan’s soft, silky songs set the tone for an evening of stunning folk pop. Slow Skies blend vocals reminiscent of Ellie Goulding and melodies which wouldn’t sound out-of-place in a Duke Special record, to create an ambient atmosphere in the sweltering heat of the Upstairs venue in Whelan’s.
After a set that was short but most definitely sweet, it was Sorcha’s turn to take to the stage. Accompanied by Eoin Gorman (keyboard/backing vocals) and the splendid Chloe Giacometti (acoustic guitar/backing vocals), Sorcha opened her set with December Cigarettes, a song in which she manages to simultaneously pluck not only at her guitar strings but at the heart-strings of every member of the audience too. You could forgive Sorcha for being a little nervous in front of such a large crowd but if she was, it certainly didn’t show as she belted out easy on the ear tunes such as Early Morning Rising, High Hopes and Birds of Summer.
Any sparse chatter amongst members of the crowd had long died out at this stage as Richardson’s vocals reached out to every corner of the room. One of the most endearing aspects of Sorcha’s music is her self-harmonising vocals. Obviously this isn’t easy in a live setting but the backing vocals from Chloe Giacometti provide solid harmonies throughout the set, especially during Alone, the first track from Sorcha’s recently released EP Sleep Will Set Me Free. Two Empty Bottles proves to be the song that breaks the silence which had descended on the audience as it’s more upbeat sound gives them an excuse to dance before Sorcha bursts into what is undoubtedly her most recognisable tune to date, the wonderfully picturesque I Heart NYC.
Penultimate track of the night, Higher, allows Sorcha to display her her vocal range which admittedly isn’t the strongest but is impressive all the same. Whilst, Slow Skies’ Karen Sheridan has a beautiful voice, it lacks the original and unique qualities to be found in Sorcha’s. At this point, Sorcha thanks Chloe and Eoin for their involvement and proclaims that they’ve “done their jobs now”. She introduces Midnight Whistle as the last song of the set. A song about her fight against cancer which Sorcha herself admitted was more something she had to endure, rather than something she had to fight. As if that statement wasn’t brave enough, to get up in front of a crowd of people and sing that song as beautifully as she did took real guts. As Sorcha played the last keystroke of the night, the crowd erupted into a rapturous applause that seemed to be never-ending and nobody in that room can say that she didn’t deserve it.