Guinness Amplify in DeBarra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty, Saturday 4th October
Gather a small crowd of dedicated music-lovers, pluck some of the biggest names to have emerged from the Irish and UK music scene in recent years, and stir them together in the tiniest of pubs and venues across the country.
This has been the recipe for Guinness Amplify, the replacement to (the oft criticised) Arthur’s Day. The programme of events has seen a different region taken over for a weekend, most recently Munster, with pubs hosting gigs by many Irish acts and some international names.
Last Saturday we popped along to the feature gig in DeBarra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty to see Walking on Cars, George Ezra and Bastille.
First up stage are Kerry natives Walking On Cars. This year has been a massive one for the band, and has seen them gain significant airplay and attention. Their non-offensive soft rock seems to please everyone, but they lack energy in a live setting. Their last two songs Hand In Hand and Catch Me If You Can are a step up, but not exactly worth travelling to Clonakilty for.
Taking to the stage with little more than his oversized jazz guitar, George Ezra has the crowd won over before he even strums a string – “My name is George Ezra and I’m going to play a few songs for you” – cue screaming.
There’s such a charm to his average-guy personality that with little to no effort he has the crowd enthralled. Opening with Blame It On Me, his booming vocals vibrate through every inch of the tiny pub’s wooden structure.
Songs like Cassy-O show off the rich tone to his lower register, while Leaving It Up To You is marked by pitch-perfect falsetto. Budapest is of course a crowd favourite.
While a lot of his album was inspired by his time inter-railing, he tells how he never actually made it to Budapest prior to writing the song “It’s tricky trying to explain to Hungarian journalists how the song isn’t actually about Budapest… But I’ve been there since. It’s nice”. He wraps up his set and leaves everyone with a warm fuzzy feeling (and a faint desire to go travelling).
Finally, top of the bill for tonight are British indie-pop foursome Bastille. Kicking things off with the syncopated beat of album title-track Bad Blood, the crowd are already bouncing off the walls.
Frontman Dan Smith has more energy than he has room as he jumps about on the cramped stage. While they are prone to mixed reviews in a larger setting, in an intimate environment such as this there is no doubt about Bastille’s capacity for a powerful live performance.
The venue’s potential is realised during slow tracks, with Overjoyed and Oblivion haunting the 200-capacity bar. Newer track The Draw is a beautifully personal song that introduces electric guitar and heavy drums to their usually electronic-driven sound.
Smith makes his usual crowd expedition during Flaws, making the rounds of the pub and getting mobbed in the process. Of the Night and Pompeii are the perfect closing tracks, exhuming the very last of the crowd’s energy reserves.
Guinness Amplify is making its final stop in Dublin this week, with a seriously packed lineup, most notably Rudimental and Jess Glynne on Thursday at a soon-to-be announced location.