Orla Gartland at Academy 2 on Saturday 22nd February, 2014
The first song to introduce Orla Gartland was full of innocuous satire. ‘I’m a diddle leprechaun’ typifies Gartlands appearance. Short and slight with ginger hair, she is emblematic of the Irish stereotype. Another assumption can be made of the Irish lately is that an inordinate amount of our unsigned acts have cultivated the capacity to bring tedious pre-planning to fruition in a live setting. Gartland is a viral mastermind, building a sizable and devout fan base for the past while, the same formula that has afforded the likes of Lewis Watson the ability to play the same stage as her tonight. Not so long ago, a certain Hozier played The Unitarian on the back of a lone E.P and his trajectory since has been unparalleled.
The dark and cavernous Academy 2 isn’t quite so bountiful in its resources to artists and fans. But those fans that sported every piece of merchandise for sale with such pride were never going to let the venue constraints govern their night. Draping themselves across anything with height, the audience propped their heads to catch a glimpse of the stage as the downstairs venue filled to capacity.
Opening with Clueless, Gartland was everything but. She knew how to command her crowd, delivering witty and quirky puns to satisfy those eager eyes up front, but remembering to not completely segregate those happy (albeit slightly older) fans to float at the back.
There was an obvious innocence to the night’s performance. The qualms of young love’s naivety was shouted back with such duress and force in Sixteen – a song that carried much weight for a young crowd. This continued with Whispers. Delivered with velvet vocals, it fared best acoustically. Succeeding Empty Man (one of the most impressive in her repertoire), Gartland paused to snap a photo of her audience, a norm for most gigs these days. After all it’s this type of engagement that has helped her path. Those who sport the t-shirts and buy the merchandise, who engage so attentively with her online presence, who queue before doors open and are the last to leave, they are the one who take pride in nights like tonight. These fans have been so imperative to Gartland’s success, and the traction she continues to derive is as a direct result of both their efforts. The man who brought his three kids along, whose collective ages can’t rival his actual age by much, surely agrees. Even when the audience’s constant vows of affection become a little cringey, Gartland manages to imbue the night with confidence and all round good humour.
Gartland’s Tell Me What You Want cover characterised the entire night’s sentiment – the Spice Girls lyrics were delivered with such conviction that it became 1997 all over again for the duration of the song. Roots, the title track from her sole EP, ended the night with a soaring melody and the lyrics ‘Need some fresh faces’. It seems she’ll meet a lot of them as her journey continues and she evolves as an artist.
Orla Gartland Photo Gallery
Photos: Shaun Neary