Maverick Sabre at The Village - Maverick Sabre Live at The Village: November 12th 2011
Words: Vanessa Monaghan

A Saturday night sold out show in Dublin with one of the breakthrough artists of the year ? Thanks very much, I’ll have a bit of that! Maverick Sabre has become a staple of daytime radio this year and his debut album is set to become one of the most anticipated releases of 2012.

The hip hop vibes of Rob Kelly filled the stairwell as I entered the venue. Onstage Terawritz and DJ Mo Kelly backed up the Irish rapper and he’s quite good. Half Mast Flag is a well produced track and has quite an infectious bounce to it. Sometimes it’s hard to figure how this kind of set will go down, live raps over record, but Kelly has it down and going on this could easily be played alongside Game. (I’m not surprised to hear later that Kelly will open for the L.A. rapper in The Olympia). The venue is filling up just as he plays his new single ‘Game Over’. The lyricsmith explains the track has just been playlisted on Kiss FM in the UK and it has ‘major hit’ written all over it. Going on this performance Kelly deserves to be a familiar name to more than just the Irish hip hop circuit.

Next up are Waterford crew (see I knows de lingo) Sons Phonetic, five MC s and a DJ. The quintet take turns on lead with the others backing up. They definitely show potential but have a tough job following Rob Kelly. Stand out performer on the stage was Sam Miles. He showed great stage presence and a little bit of swagger. Five dudes on a little stage was always going to be a tight squeeze and this is where Sons Phonetic fell down a little. They just need a little more coordination. On occasion the lead MC wasn’t centre stage when they were on the mic and the members seemed to be vying for position. Music wise, their beat heavy style is bang on the money and after these two acts, I’m yet again wondering why Irish hip hop hasn’t got a higher profile.

There was quite a sizeable gap before Maverick Sabre came onstage to a now jam packed venue. His set starts with ‘Look What I’ve Done’ a midtempo soul song that makes the crowd go mental when the tempo is uped about half way through.

Maverick speaks to the crowd in his weird Wexford/English accent and it’s obvious they love him. While he may have worked his way from hip hop, it’s obvious his brand of soul is where his home is. A good proportion of the audience seem to be longtime fans, singing all to tracks like ‘Memories’, which opens with a beautiful seductively infectious bass line. On backing vocals tonight is Chantelle Nandi whose amazing voice and vocal range beautifully compliment Mav’s raspy tones.

The track that brought Mr Sabre to most people’s attention on Jools Holland, ‘I Used To Have It All’ gets an airing. There are a few acoustic tracks in the set which I wasn’t expecting. Playing the guitar himself, it shows him to be a competent musician and ‘Lonely Side of Life’ shows the audience appreciate this, as the song ends with just the audience doing a singalong.

Mav then says something about something fainting in the front row, which was a first for him before launching into a cover of ‘Wonderwall’. He explains that growing up he listened to a lot of different styles of music and loved Oasis. The crowd go mad for this, with Mav only having to sing the first couple of words of each line, the audience doing all the work here.

Fan favourite ‘Sometimes’ has the masses singing along again and features a rather lovely slow bass groove. There’s no way New Ross couldn’t get a mention tonight and Mav thanks everyone from New Ross and Wexford who travelled to see him tonight. Current single ‘I Need’ literally blows away everything that had come before it with a huge wide sound and the bass rumble that goes straight through you, reminding you that you’re most definitely at a gig.

After a relatively short set, Mav leaves the stage, only to have backing singer Chantelle to come back to the stage first to get the crowd wound up again. A little predictable but this what Mav says he considers a hometown gig. ‘Let Me Go’ continues the huge sound and it seems like this is more of what Mr Sabre’s next gigs will be like following the release of his album. The set finishes with a solo version of ‘Jungle’, which he had recorded with Professor Green. Awesome track, amazing live.

In front of a sold out gig some of the acoustic tracks failed to capture the entire audience. The full on tracks are great and on a Saturday night, this is what the audience wanted. If this is what his set is like after two singles, after the album release Maverick Sabre should be unstoppable.