Brian Deady seemed to be a name on everyone’s lips in Cork pre-2010. A local radio darling, his smooth-as-silk vocal caught a lot of people off guard; pristine with unrivalled clarity. He’s abandoned previous naff attempts at radio airplay (Over Like MacGyver, anyone?) for a more polished sound, and it stands to him.
He is a barrelling, brooding force on stage at Whelan’s, opening with the title track from his new album Black Diamond delivered with a surprising intensity. The brass rises with him, before he asks“Dublin, what’s the craic?” The switch of sound from Deep South to, eh, South Mall, is nothing short of astonishing. (Some rude Dubliners on the balcony attempt to mimic his accent, forgetting that there is life beyond the pale.)
His band make a tight unit, with Deady presenting himself as an able frontman – no member of the audience could feel neglected as he seeks to meet their gaze. On slow sets like Say When, he’s more introspective – his vocals pouring out, as if they’re being pulled straight off the wax.
Occasionally, he struggles in the higher register and more often than not, the high points are usually when he strips back the instrumentation. He tells a story of falling back in love with the acoustic guitar on a recent trip to Spain, before launching in to One More Chance off mic, creeping to the edge of the stage to impose himself on the audience. It’s a beautiful performance, during which attendees engage in surprisingly good phone etiquette (bar one rogue Instagram videographer at the start.)
Religion is recurring theme sung about wryly, which Deady and co nod to by indulging in a jovial cover of Spirit In The Sky. Clap Both My Hands sounds as contemporary and fun as it did three years ago, but its the chorus of Eloise that provides the knockout of the night.
Deady’s new brand of rollicking Americana – a blues-soul hybrid with a stunning vocal to boot – deserves more attention. He plans on “kicking the hole” off the festivals next year though. With any luck, he’ll be lapping it up soon.