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I chanced to click on something about RO TIERNEY a while back, while searching on ‘My space’ for another band. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to have a listen to his stuff on-line. Whatever it was about that sweet, innocent look on his face in the photo he has up there, I tuned in and was instantly transcended by the beautiful music coming from my computer.
What a voice!
Something very unique and unforgettable about my sudden and accidental discovery forced me to vow I’d be at his next big gig with bells on! And I was! Those amazing jazzy twists and turns in each and every line, gorgeously moving up into falsetto and adding all the right spices to tantalise my musical palate, this man has something to make you laugh, cry or just want to sing along in all of his songs. He is so unassuming and laid back, with a lovely happy-go-lucky aura about him that you just want to click your fingers to the rhythm and be swept up in the mood!
In ‘Crawdaddy’ on a rainy miserable evening as I sat waiting with a small bunch of people in the bar, nothing could dampen my spirits. This was one gig I’d been really looking forward to. My guest texted me to say she wasn’t going to brave the weather, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Alone, I followed the small queue into the venue and as everybody made a b-line for seats, it looked like I was going to be left standing, along with looking like a lemon!
However thanks to the friendly bouncer, I acquired a high stool from the bar and settled myself, knowing that the evening’s entertainment was going to be well worth the effort.
And it was!
WEST OF EDEN was the first band on. Singer ‘Cindy O’Keefe and singer/songwriter ‘Kenn Davis’ created a sweet and extremely enjoyable sound. Beginning with ‘THIS IS THE WAY TO GET ALONG’, Cindy had a good strong and clear voice and backed by amazing sweet harmony sung by Kenn, they reminded me a little of one of my favourite artistes, ‘KT Tunstall’.
Lots of choppy acoustic guitar in the second song and a sweet melody held my interest. I really got into this gorgeous alternative/pop duo and as they continued with a slow ¾ time ballad, her vocal range was shown off to great advantage. Such a perfect appetiser for a delicious music filled night. My friend didn’t know what she was missing!
They continued their set with a very exotic sounding number, and then a country/folk style song called ‘ALLY’S SONG’. This had a sensual, soulful melody with lots of jazzy chords to enrich the sound. Next was ‘DÉJÀ VU’ involving plucky guitar chords and a cha-cha style beat, with jazzy twists and variations. This girl’s voice is unique and appealing and with the wonderful accompaniment and perfect close harmonies injected by Kenn they really gel, complimenting each other’s voices and as they entrance the audience with a variety of riffs and rhythms, including very South American sexy styles, you can feel how they enjoy themselves and seem to marvel at the positive response they get!
They finished with a song called ‘EVERYDAY THING’ from their new E.P.
This wonderful and memorable pair really got to me and I myself felt a sense of ‘déjà vu’ as I listened, that I’d heard them somewhere before! Possibly because they’ve been around for quite a while, evolving from other bands and hailing from Tallaght, where I lived myself a few years ago, they re-shuffled and re-invented themselves and it looks like they finally found their sound, turning the chrysalis of their act into a beautiful, awe-inspiring Butterfly!
As a little break was going on, people went off to the bar and a general buzz of activity took place. A lot of chatter went on and then a young, casually dressed guy stood at the mike, acoustic guitar in hand and joined by a drummer and bassist began to sing a slow, sweet sounding song. Soon it began to build up and an up-beat and more lively rhythm took over. With his calm cool air and clear velvet voice, it was evidently RO TIERNEY!
With no big fanfare or fancy introductions and without that cute hat from his photo on ‘My Space’ it had taken me until now to recognise him. But the music, the voice and the magic was UNMISTAKABLE!
‘LUCKY STREET’ was the first number, with a sweet verse and a slice of ‘The Beatles’ song ROCKY RACOON creeping in just before the last chorus.
Ro introduced himself and urged the audience to move closer to the stage. Everybody seemed to be shy or something and I got the feeling he wanted to get a bit of an atmosphere into the place.
‘TICS & POLITICS’ was number two. The bass guitarist played a choppy intro on his fretless bass with its gorgeous tone. People began to move out of their seats and towards the front, till things began to feel like they were livening up.
All of Ro’s songs, especially this one depend very much on a particularly distinctive slinky beat and the sound of that very unusual looking but vital bass guitar (I think it’s a Tachomine).
I feel very drawn to this song, with lovely harmony and a very catchy refrain sung by Andrew and Robbie, along with lots of special effects on drums, lending a touch of mystery to the scene.
Ro cracked a joke about the next number ‘The VOICE’. With a seductive intro, gutsy beat and wonderful lyrics it won me over when I first heard it on-line. But live, it was even better as it went into the sentimental but winning chorus. It is well written and very uplifting and as I stood among the absorbed crowd at Crawdaddy looking up at this prodigy of a man, with a vital message in his song, sung with such emotion and conviction, I felt privileged to be a part of this wonderful gig. The lovely words in the chorus ‘so let’s go out into the rain and join in Mother Nature’s pain’ moved me as I’m sure it must have everyone present and he now had his atmosphere. He got a phenomenal reaction from all present with this really unique and special song!
‘TUMBLEWEED’ –Like all songs on this programme, this has a choppy jazz ring to it! The beautiful guitar riffs Robbie Mulvany plays along with Ro’s own extremely sweet chords the whole number is very effective, with use of cymbal and snare by Andrew to add mystery and atmosphere.
The chorus is sung using gliding, sliding notes as he reaches falsetto. The lyrics are romantic and the whole song ebbs and flows to match the mood of the verses as he sings them. He hits a really high note in the middle as he describes the building up of a moment in the words of the song; when he gets the girl (so to speak), then he describes himself as just tumbleweed passing by. It’s fun, but very sweet and suggestive and sexy!
‘SLEEPING ON YOUR SIDE’ is sad with a really sweet, lonely melody line and a very emotional theme about the break-up of a relationship. It really is beautiful and there are sweetly sung backing vocals done with a kind of distortion effect, as the words ‘I’ll keep it warm for you’ are chanted in a haunting style.
With a samba beat and a real exotic feel to it, ‘RONGO’ is absolutely brilliant. Delicious lyrics, a very holiday feeling running through it and wonderful chords it’s a number you want to swing your hips to. There’s a fabulous unexpected key-change and a sweet sensual lead solo, fancy percussion and lots of ingredients giving that extra bit of zing!
Ro performed a very short plucky song on his own between this and the next number. It almost sounded like an intro. But it seems it’s a whole song. Just so short and sweet! I think this one is ‘HIGH & SOLO’. It was probably one of the only songs I haven’t heard before. It’s a Jazz Ballad about the misery of winter in Ireland and with a description that every Irish person could relate to ‘It’s raining outside as the wind whispers the cold. Night fills the room where the sun never shines. So I light up a cone to bring my brain cells for a ride.’ What a poetic and perfect way to bring a winter’s tale to life!
‘PLEASE SING FOR THE CHILDREN’ – Lots of mysterious-sounding minor chords start this number off. Then the chorus emerges with cheerful sweet major chords, lovely lyrics and key changes and the most uplifting melody you could ever hear! Dramatic stops and starts and extremely noticeable extras were infused from the rhythm section. With all that goes into the making of a CLASSIC this song has magic that had every member of the audience under its spell!
‘SIX FEET UNDER’ - Another song I hadn’t heard before this gig, this had a gruesome scary tale in the lyrics which was entertaining. It reminded me of ‘The Adams family’ with a creepy theme and although it had amusing lyrics, it involved some seriously high jazzy notes! It had this very soft sweet middle eight but gradually went back to the creepy chorus for the finish.
‘BLOOD RED MANIFESTO’ is a dramatic number with a lot of bashing, thrashing rhythm but moves into a melancholic and sweet chorus. Ro’s vocals here are so exceptional and powerful as he slides effortlessly up and down the register with poignant lyrics containing a message with a cutting edge! Changes of tempo, interesting chords and such depth of emotion made this one very memorable song.
‘HANDSTAND’ had a fast beat and a melody you just had to clap and stomp to. With a sweet and soothing melody and a BIG DRAMATIC music break to wake you up, it gave each member of the band a chance to shine. However, as in all Ro’s songs it slowed down then increased pace once again and had all that makes a musical composition exciting.
‘BEWARE’ - Ro started this song alone with his acoustic and it gradually built up. He introduced the two other guys, Robbie Mulvany on fretless acoustic bass and Andrew Quinn on drums.
‘STICKS AND STONES’ – This number which was Ro’s first single, was second last. It is cheeky, choppy and catchy and has an irresistibly slinky beat. With that unmistakeable style unique to Ro Tierney’s song writing technique, it has a gorgeous melody line, and he performed it with style too. As he fluently glided up and down from falsetto, you just felt him enjoying it. He got a really big reaction from the crowd and with that sexy refrain ‘with a soul of sticks and sto oh ones’ it is seductive and sweet!
The final song of the evening, ‘OVERGROWN BOY’ was a perfect way to end a seamless and memorable performance. Very different to the rest of the program. This number had a faster tempo and with those choppy chords once again and lovely riffs filtering through from the magical fretless bass guitar, not forgetting that very likeable guy on drums doing his bit, they rounded of the night beautifully.
With cascading chord combinations, sweet salsa, samba and reggae-style rhythms and delectable key changes throughout the music of Ro Tierney, his heady cocktail full to the brim with originality soothes you and you feel a lovely high as you walk away. With a little dash of old and new styles alike, his music will appeal to all ages. I sincerely hope that if he achieves the success he’s hoping for abroad, he won’t forget to return to Dublin to treat us to his extraordinary and pleasing music.
|Review written by: Angela Macari-O’Looney --|