What an interesting evening the Acoustic Music Club presented last night. Sometimes things just happen and turn out differently to what might have been expected. What am I talking about? Well it is hard to write about a headline act Connla who, through difficult circumstances, were not at full strength and the support act Faramach who made us all re-evaluate the old saying never judge a book by the cover. Faramach turns out to be Gaelic for Noise Making and this very young school band certainly packed a punch. A lot of the audience were most likely thinking oh no children however from the off these kids rocked the house. Opening with a cover of Amy MacDonald’s This Is The Life through to the closer Home To Donegal their youthful exuberance carried the day over the lack of “professional” stagecraft. Comprising two keyboards, drums, bass, one lead acoustic guitar and two vocalists playing fiddle and, second guitar there was no taking away from the fact that these kids could play and play well. Most striking was the blend of the vocals. Emma has the sweeter voice but she can ramp it up when required. However in Ali the band have one of the most extraordinary young voices I have ever heard. I could not even be sure where this young lass’s range lies. Contralto for sure but leaning heavily towards baritone bass tenor, if such a category exists. It was certainly very dark and rich packing the kind of punch redolent of the likes of Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell and I’m sure, should she want it, that music will continue to be a major factor in her life. A very entertaining well balanced selection of songs, I think all covers, drew a warm response from the packed audience. Now we move on to the expected five piece from Derry and Armagh unfortunately depleted by extended family health problems rather than hearing a band who balance traditional instrumentals alongside lovely songs through vocalist Ciara McCafferty tonight she was not present and Ciaran Carlin had returned to Ireland with her today. So we were “left” with a trio consisting Emer Mallon harp, Conor Mallon, Uilleann pipes and whistles with Paul Starrett on guitar. They wanted to provide the room with some sort of performance and they did so with a raft of fine tunes played with all the class and skill we have come to expect. With deft touches of humour whilst introducing each tune they quickly engaged completely with the room. It was not what they or us really wanted for the evening though and to be absolutely fair they played a shortened set as a result. I would be very surprised indeed were Connla not to be playing a return date at the Acoustic Music Club once restored to full strength again and do check out their very fine album River Waiting until the new date is fixed.
Graeme Scott K107FM, Blues Matters Magazine, VRN1287