Rosborough at Whelans, Dublin, 27th January 2018
Rosborough played the final date of his Irish tour and his first Dublin headliner in Whelans’ upstairs venue. Having just returned from a trip to Groningen to perform at EuroSonic, it’s been a busy few weeks for the singer-songwriter.
Rosborough walks onto the stage with a shy smile on his face, dressed in a plain white top and dark jeans. After greeting his audience, he opens his set with three delicate, acoustic numbers on guitar. The lack of accompanying instruments emphasises the poignancy of the lyrics (“Over the years, my scars have started to show”), he hums in his opening song.
The stripped back numbers work well as a pallet cleanser for the louder songs that he promises are to come. The audience are attentive and respectful, hanging onto every word that the Derry man utters.
The transition from acoustic set up to electric is smooth; Rosborough welcomes a drummer onto the stage as he swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric. The lack of other musicians on stage is notable. A laptop running backing tracks is situated beside the drummer, providing bass, keys and backing vocals.
Often, with backing tracks, the sound quality is heavily reliant on the quality of speakers in the room and the sound engineer. It can be difficult to achieve a full sound live that is consistent with the recorded versions of the songs. However, Rosborough does this with ease; the songs are lush and rich in texture, never once lacking in any frequencies that a live band would provide.
Before he performs Made of Gold, the singer-songwriter explains that he wrote the song about his home-town of Derry, and his struggle to decide whether to stay there or to leave to pursue his music career. It’s an anecdote that a lot of people can relate to, and we’re certainly glad he chose the latter option. The chorus of the song is euphoric, Rosborough’s vocal soaring above the guitar and synth lines. His voice is strong yet tentative at the same time, reminiscent of Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys. He has the ability to make his listeners believe every word that he sings.
Rosborough provides a back-story before most songs, most of which are comical. Tommy is a song that he wrote about a man that he stumbled across online who believed in conspiracy theories, such as that the moon is actually a space station. Another Lesson Learned was inspired by a party he was at where all attendees had a fight and fell out with each-other.
In The Moment is a sure crowd pleaser. The rhythm is infectious, rendering it impossible not to sway along to the beat. Rosborough is a fervent performer, his piercing stare keeps any potential chit-chatters in the audience at bay. The music is riff-driven and energetic.
The end of the set is sounded by a humble ‘thank you’ from Rosborough, and rapturous applause from the audience follows. The audience begin to exit the room in good spirits, exchanging words of high praise about the gig with each-other. If the songs on Rosborough’s forthcoming album sound as good recorded as they do live, we’re in for a real treat.