Live Review: Gemma Hayes @ The Pavilion, May 1st 2010

Posted: 02/11/2010 in Uncategorized

***As published on Culch.ie on May 7th 2010***

Gemma Hayes was cast into the spotlight when her 2002 debut album, Night On My Side, clinched a coveted Mercury Prize nomination. Since then she has steadily impressed with her unique musical style to establish herself as one of Ireland’s brightest talents, with subsequent album releases The Roads Don’t Love You and The Hollow Of The Morning proving commercially successful, and twice earning nods as Ireland’s best female artist at the Meteors. Hayes’ music has also recently been brought to a wider audience via the realm of angsty American TV dramas, with songs recently featured in hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and One Tree Hill.

The intimate confines of The Pavilion Theatre proved to be the perfect setting for this stripped-back acoustic gig, as the Tipperary lady delighted the audience with a perfect mix of the old, the new, and some quirky covers.

Ann Scott kicked off the evening’s proceedings, with a short set which can be summed up in one word – lacklustre.

On to the main event. Hayes takes to the stage, greets the audience coyly, and opens the show with a poignant tribute to the late Liam Clancy – a stunning a capella rendition of Ae Fond Kiss, which would give even the harshest of Hayes’ critics shivers. Scott returns to the stage to take on a far more suitable role as backing vocalist, and it’s straight into the showcasing of a brand new track  – Shock To The System. The song is textbook Gemma Hayes – but definitely a positive sign for what her forthcoming album will bring.

Fan favourites such as Ran For Miles and Back Of My Hand delight the audience, as does a fantastic cover of the Kate Bush classic Cloudbusting. Recent release Oliver – preceded by a rather amusing back-story – also garners a great reception; and another new song in the form of Tokyo again signals that the album she’s been hiding away in France recording is going to be worth the wait.

Hayes’ delivery throughout the set is near flawless, her stunning voice set completely free with only her own guitar as accompaniment. She is effortlessly charming – and although her banter with the audience between songs at times verges on being overly sarcastic, her accounts of the stories behind each tune are often funny and always endearing.

An encore performance of Happy Sad is particularly vibrant, before Hayes picks up her electric guitar for the first and only time during the set to close out the evening with a stunning rendition of Chasing Dragons.

The Pavilion gig marked the end of Hayes’ nationwide acoustic tour – for now, it’s back to the Blackbox to work on her forthcoming album, which – judging by tonight’s performance – is something to very much look forward to.

A free download of Gemma performing ‘Cloudbusting’ live is available at GemmaHayes.com

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