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the Spy Bar, located next to the Powerscourt Town Centre,
has a welcoming warmth to it as you shimmy up to the sign-less door and feel the unspoken spirit of many cool hip speakeasy's rush up your spine.

You've been here before.Seen Gavin Friday make a potted plant of himself acting like drunken uncle Gavin at some anonymous couple's wedding at the Bowie Tribute night last year ..saying to the person beside you "God ..i used to like Bono"

Then, a couple of main sails later you saw Bono himself and offered him a pint of Guinness, moving away with haste .. and yet slow enough to hear his polite decline.

And with it's top heavy menu, that night was also the first time you saw
nialljamesholohan, a delicious new songwriter from the south side of Dublin.. with a harem of beautiful songs and the kind of international appeal that is quite simply rare, across the board

That particular night he shared a siamese version of the queen's "let's dance" with the equally superb Dubliner NEOSUPERVIATAL but tonight is not about Bowie, the grandfathers of Irish rock or even Rachel the surfer girl. The set is all holohan's own and you can't wait.

Stepping to the Spy Bar stage while the dj plays his last, holohan charasmatically plays along with Cake's "I will survive" and awaits the hum of the room to quiet.

Arriving unannounced I find out from an avid fan that the first track is the subtle poem entitled "child of prague reprise" which right away reveals holohan's knack with an audience (the new location of a more intimate room in Spy has encouraged this pick). As well as what I can only describe a lyrical mastery. Lyrically he could go twelve rounds with the best of them. This will become undeniable as he lurches forward through his great compression of music and word, exibiting what has regularly been described as a searing stage presence.

His voice is surely the best I've heard in years. Imagine a Lennon from Old Bawn and you're half way there. Rich and distinctive it rides the lines he set himself to explore the irish experieince specifically and at the same time strives to go beyond it.

This is exemplified and resounds with a simple line on how the child is "driven to swim"

'The most dangerous guy alive' is holohan's unique take on society's present unhealthy obsession with celebrity and indeed with any misguided fool who can find their way on to televison. It is like observation prose set to a crafty pop melody which swerves from violent and angry descriptions of page three models and singer songwriters who are all about looking like their heroes, to a vulnerable candor in the chorus "if you run away
i will seek everyone's applause and if you call my name ..i will crawl back into your jaws"

Flowing on through the idiosynchratic 'Neutral Milk Hotel' inspired "I'm not afraid to say goodbye" holohan has now managed not only to draw the silent attention of those in the room but of those who were sat in Spy Bar's other three rooms (where the live music is beamed through).The room is packed to the doorways with onlookers as he moves on to what, for my money, is his first masterpiece.

"this is a Dublin song called 'pissing in the sink'"....

'pissing in the sink' really does stands out as holohan's first masterpiece and indeed a masterpiece beyond the writer's hand.Spitting out syllables like watermelon seed ..you are raced to the end of night on the town by a performer who has the safety off and is now pummeling you with verse after verse. It is an inspiring performance of a song that will ring around the room for the rest of his set which comprises of the fatalistic hick country relief of 'hooray for decay' and the bid for Morrisey's witty throne you'll ever hear 'sexually attracted to myself'

But when all is said and done ..when he thanks you for being part of a great audience and declines the cries of 'more' in consideration for the performers who have to follow it is his vivid desciptions of a drunk heavy Dame street that stick in the mind and throat

At the very very least 'pissing in the sink' is destined to enter the national conscience in the same way "teenage kicks" "fairy tale of new york" and "one" have.

Like the majority of the songs performed, they remain unrecorded and unreleased but are set to appear on the long cited, longer awaited awaited commercial debut "cattle of fish"

It will be worth the wait ..just you wait and see!!!

gerry bradshaw
wednesday 21st january
for irishunsigned.com

Review written by: gerry bradshaw -- niallholohan@hotmail.com

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