Róisín O @ Whelans, Dublin, 21st September 2012

Review: Niall Swan

When someone grows up in a family with a rich musical history, one couldn’t begrudge them using those connections to get ahead in the music business. However, despite lead singer Róisín O’Reilly being the sister of Coronas lead singer Danny O’Reilly and the daughter of Mary Black, Róisín O have done it all their own way. Friday night was the result of numerous years of hard graft for the band which culminated last Friday with the release of debut album ‘The Secret Life Of Blue’. Support on the night came from Eric McGrath who had to perform solo after some difficulties arose with his band. McGrath’s style drew instant comparisons to Jason Mraz. The most notable song of his short set was Ripples Into Waves. He’s certainly one to watch in 2013.

Opening up with Synchronicity the gig gets off to a slow but special start. This song, which the band have done an ‘as Gaeilge’ version of, is stunning in its simplicity. It slowly builds to a crescendo with Róisín belting out “I am home!” She’s not lying, the confidence is flowing as the band moves through the gears and it quickly becomes evident that this girl was born to be on that stage as she showcases her ability to hit the high notes during Climb High.

Halfway through the set, some of the other members of the band get to showcase their vocal talents. Tea Song, written by bassist Brian Murphy, features dual vocals from O’Reilly and Murphy himself. It’s a powerful performance which is reminiscent of some of Ham Sandwich’s quieter tunes.  The upbeat You Owe Me A Drink also draws a good reaction from the audience who are now enthralled by events on stage to such a point that any sparse chatter is met with instant dirty looks.

As is the case with many bands who are showcasing their debut album, the main problem facing Róisín O tonight is having enough material to make up a worthwhile set list. In order to do this they, much to the delight of the crowd, draft in the help of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. A classically catchy clap-along song which has everyone up on their feet dancing. Closing out the set is firm crowd favourite and most recent single How Long. Featuring both Scott Jackson and Dave Hingerty on drums, it’s by far the performance of the night especially its indescribably epic outro.

Of course that wasn’t all. It never is, is it? Róisín returned to the stage with just Brian Murphy in tow to belt out a beautiful version of title track The Secret Life Of Blue which is met with complete silence from the awe-struck audience. Next up is Here We Go, which is a fitting end to the gig as Róisín O are clearly a band that are going places and Friday night in Whelan’s was just the beginning of a long and exciting journey ahead of them.