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Paul Hourican Aras Chronain, Clondalkin 09.06.07

Paul Hourican – A review of 2 gigs

By Angela Macari-O'Looney

It was Saturday June 9th, and hot, hot, hot! I hopped a number 69 bus to Clondalkin, asking the driver to let me off outside Aras Chronain. When he called me, he pointed to a gate, just past the bus stop. But, as he pulled away, I noticed the gate was locked.
Now what?

I asked a passer by was there another entrance and he directed me around the back, to another way in, which I might add was very obscure. As I walked up the driveway to this small, cosy clubhouse, hidden away, I met a group of young people.

Among them was a guy, carrying a guitar, so I inquired if he was on tonight. The girl, with him explained that they were playing support to Paul Hourican. Caoimhe, led me to the little room, where the gig was due to be on.

A sound check was in progress, a very appealing sound, filling the room and there, on stage, was Paul Hourican. He sang a song from “Intro”, his recent album, and as I listened, I thought this was going to be a great night. I had invited a sister of mine, to join me, later on.

Paul came over and when I told him who I was, he introduced himself and offered me a drink. While he was out at the bar, Coaimhe and her guitarist took to the stage, to run through one of their songs. It was a Scottish ballad, and she sang it with feeling. Her voice was crisp and clean, and easy on the ear. Her guitarist, Mick Smith, has remarkable fluency in his playing, and compliments her singing, with lovely improvisation, that has a maturity, that's uncanny for his tender years.

Paul returned with my drink, and commented on the fact that no one had turned up, as yet. He said he hoped it would start to fill up shortly, but unfortunately, it didn't. My guess is that the world and his wife were at barbeques. There ended up being a handful of people at Aras Chronain, that evening. In my opinion, the entrance that IS accessible is too obscure, for anyone unfamiliar with the venue, on top of which, no posters or advertisements are visible outside the club, listing what's on. Better promotion, would probably have drawn a bigger audience.

I was disappointed, and so was my sister when, at eleven, Caoimhe and her group left. Paul mentioned he was doing another gig, in “The Village”, Wexford St. He invited me to that, and before the night was abandoned, he picked up his guitar, and gave the remaining company present, a rendition of “Happy Anniversary”. This is a wonderful parody, in a similar style to “Fairytale of New York”, by The Pogues. I enjoyed it, but was a little shocked by the blue language, in the second last and last verses. Allowing for poetic license, however, it's good!

The Village- Tuesday, June 12th

I arrived just in time to see Paul come onstage. He asked the audience to move closer to the stage. This time, in the bigger venue, he came into his own. He opened the show with a ballad, unaccompanied. This showed off his vocal range, as he glided effortlessly up to falsetto, then back to tenor. What a voice!

When he sang “One step forward”, people were joining in the chorus. He has a way of making you feel he's serenading you alone. I could fall in love with this guy, well his voice anyway! Paul puts a lot of emphasis on the story his song tells. Lyrics are his forte,
And yet each melody frames the song as a whole, till you have a memorable love song or anthem.

He really is a multi-talented guy, and one sip from the nectar of his creative gift, and you're longing for more.

“The future is not ours to see” starts off soft, moody and builds to a crescendo. This number is done by both Paul and Louise, his backing vocalist. It's sad, romantic and really moving. There's an unexpected change from slow, to a choppy, staccato beat after the second chorus, going back to the original moody refrain, towards the end.

Louise lends an angelic quality to songs sung in unison, with Paul. In their third song, “She's got to be the one”, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and he was enjoying it. He looked hot up there, but despite the perspiration, he was smiling, as a huge applause went up, after this.

“In a funny way”, from a new album, “Let the enemy in”, has a gently flowing chorus, and distinct melody. As he sang this, he reminded me of Paul Simon, with his dark hair, his boyish looks and even in his stature, as he strummed and lamented. He then did a number, “Lost at sea”, and the piano is beautiful in this one, and so rich. Destined to become a hit!

“Haunted by the ghost” (of your precious love), is a more up tempo song. It's lively, and showcases Louise, who in her own right is a talent to watch out for. Her vocals are raw and full of promise. She has a gutsy style that compliments Paul's shyer, sensitive personality.

I had a listen to a c.d over the weekend, so had become familiar with one or two of the songs on it, particularly “Happy Anniversary”, which he sang for me, at Aras Chronain, in an informal setting. So, I was elated when I heard him sing the intro, and knew it would go down well, with this crowd at “The Village”.

It's one of those numbers that really makes for good audience participation, and by the second chorus, you're waiting to join in.

As I sat down to jot down my thoughts after Paul thanked us and finished, I realised
this venue gave me a feeling of deja vu, and couldn't think why. Then it came to me!
It's the place I once worked, as an unemployed school leaver, back in the 80's. Now known as “The Village”, previously “The Wexford Inn”, is it any wonder that I felt at home?

Review written by: Angela Macari-O'Looney -- macari.angela@gmail.com

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