Live music review: Choice Music Prize
Vicar Street, Dublin
By Eoghan O’Sullivan
Forget the maxim ‘Less is more’ — judging by the Choice Music Prize event at Vicar Street, at which all ten of the acts nominated for Irish album of the year performed two songs each, more is more.
Ships, later announced as winners of the prize for their Precession album have swelled from two to five for the night, the irresistible ‘All Will Be’ sounding mammoth as a result.
The Cork band Talos have six members whose glacial vibes are punctuated by Eoin French’s soaring falsetto. They’re getting used to the bigger stages, and with festival season around the corner — and a trip to the name-making SXSW next week — Talos look set to be one of the bands of the summer.
‘Your Love is an Island’ is anthemic, a slow build ceding to a monstrous bass and crescendo.
There are three solo performers on the night. Fionn Regan chooses not to play the highlight of his meandering album, the title track ‘The Meeting of the Waters’, and his ten-minute slot plods along as a result.
Four-time nominee James Vincent McMorrow is just back from a solo tour of Germany and exudes confidence, managing to silence the chatty room.
During ‘National’, a wry crooner about listening to The National (“You said your favourite song was the one about death”), you could hear a pin drop.
The second Cork nominee, Marlene Enright, is joined by Gemma Sugrue, their voices mixing joyfully on ‘We Were in Trouble’.
We’re also treated to the song of the year as voted by some members of the public — ‘That Good Thing’, by
Tullamore’s banjo-toting, hair-dance four-piece Chasing Abbey.
It’s a diverse night that leaves you wanting to hear more from most of the disparate acts. The fact that neither of the big winners were guitar-based also gave it the feel of a seminal night for Irish music.
Overall, the scene is in rude health. And Ships, a duo comprising veterans Sorca McGrath and Simon Cullen, who made their album in their bedroom and self-released it after a fundraising campaign, deserve their place at the top.