Mick Flannery at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin on 7th of December 2013
Though his name may not ring too clear a bell with some, Mick Flannery elicits a powerful reaction from his followers. The crowd are abuzz and throughout the Olympia Theatre there are people to be found turning to their friend/date/spouse and giddily reciting the headliner’s name.
Sophie Hunger opens the show with a lovely a cappella tune sung in German, clearly catching a few folks in the audience off-guard. All doubts vanish quickly, as she spins out a set of pitch-perfect chamber-pop, fizzing with off-kilter melody, inventive wordplay and jazzy inflections.
She profusely thanks Dublin for the rapturous reception she is met with, explaining it was quite exciting for her to be on the Olympia stage, barely an hour off the plane from Berlin. Hunger and Alexis Anerilles – trading off duties on guitar, piano, trumpet and glockenspiel – sport a minimal set-up, but are carried by the force of both the songwriting and Hunger’s powerful voice. Here’s hoping it’s not too long until she returns to these shores.
The band take the stage at nine and the silence that descends on the crowd as Mick introduces Safety Rope is near supernatural. Mick and the band, roping in Seamus Fitzsimmons on bass duties, are on flying form and keep the set’s opening focused on his first two albums. As the band shuffles into place for a brilliant rendition of toe-tapper In The Gutter, Mick quips that it was times like this he wished he had stage presence.
After one or two yells come from the audience between songs he encourages more of the same, admitting he has ‘no stories’. Midway through the set Mick sits behind the piano for back-to-back renditions of Goodbye and Boston and there is a scattering of thuds as women swoon throughout the theatre.
The Tom Waits-y What Do You See here has new dynamics not found on the studio recording, escalating and building throughout to its crescendo of clattering drums and distorted guitars. It’s followed by a particularly muscular rendition of debut LP highlight The Tender, a song “about a bartender who doesn’t like his job. If he did it’d be a different song and this’d be a different gig.”
The Independent reported last week that Mick was to enter the studio soon to work on new material, some of which gets an airing this evening. Early on we are shown a new piano ballad that Mick jokingly dubbed “fresh misery”, and toward the set’s close we are treated to a solo performance of a jaunty new track, Get What You Give.
After what may have been the shortest encore break off all time (“We walked over there and back out again; that’s showbusiness folks”), the band close up on Arise Now, Tomorrow’s Paper and a haunting version of California.
The audience mills out of the Olympia, merriment to spare following a performance from one of our country’s finest working songwriters, a glimpse of new material to come, and the added bonus of Sophie Hunger’s first Dublin show. A great night in from the cold.
Mick Flannery Photo Gallery
Photos: Shaun Neary