Review: Gemma Hayes, at The Olympia Theatre 9th of December 2012.
There was something fitting about Hayes’ dewy sounds on what had to be one of the coldest nights of the year so far. Support came from an impressive but subdued Joe Chester, setting us up for a night of easy listening. From the outset Hayes’ warm personality enhanced the laid-back Sunday evening vibe that was present in the venue. Waiting For You opened the show to a ripple of appreciation from the audience, beginning a set of familiar songs from her studio albums. Hayes relies solely on her music, band and voice throughout the performance, opting not to dress the stage. The results don’t provide much in the way of a visual spectacle. In fact at times the performance felt almost clinical.
That being said there’s no denying Hayes talent. Her sweet voice was carried throughout the theatre beautifully. She surprised the crowd with a few covers including a moving rendition of Chris Issac’s Wicked Game. It was a delightful version of a smooth and sensual song and Hayes’ voice seemed tailor-made to sing it. Another interesting addition to the set was an acoustic version of punk classic, Ever Fallen in love, by The Buzzcocks. Hayes’ version was incredible. She enunciated every syllable with breathy tones and proved herself to be quite skilful with her guitar during this number in particular.
Of course, the covers, while welcome additions to a set that needed shaking up, were not the highlights of the evening. Four songs into the set she launched into Back of My Hand. One of the singersongwriter’s most famous songs to date. It received a warm reception from the audience and Hayes truly gave it her all. Other highlights on the night included the delectable 4.35am , which created a buzz about the theatre and Chasing Dragons a somewhat sinister song which brought the main set to a wonderful conclusion. Hayes expressed appreciation of her audience sincerely, stating the importance of playing in Ireland.
The encore was without question the most impressive part of the entire show. Hayes led the encore with Let a Good Thing Go. She seemed in high spirits and this was reflected by the audience. She was joined by The Discovery Gospel Choir for an exceptionally moving version of No Man Can Hinder Me. This instilled some much-needed life into the show. The show ended with another cover; a very apt one. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was sung by Hayes, Joe Chester and the choir. It was incredibly touching and the audience singing along generated a sense of togetherness. What a fantastic way to end a show which had otherwise been pleasant but muted for the most part.
Gemma Hayes Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost