As the band took to the stage, Andy Monaghan said in his little intro: “Thank you for taking a gamble and coming to see us play a bunch of songs that you don’t know”.
It’s a gamble on both counts tonight in the CCA.
Not only was this the debut of the collaboration between Hannah Read and Frightened Rabbit guitarist Andy Monaghan. The same was true of Cara Rose in support.
She too brought a collection of songs that you’ve never heard before. And as yet she doesn’t have a lot of music out there for you to check out.
Perhaps it’s a gamble on the organisation front too. There’s a healthy crowd but definitely room for some more. And maybe there would be on a night with less competition from other events?
Cara’s songs are quite soulful, almost bluesy, but sound very contemporary. For a large part it was just her solo on piano and vocals.
However in the beginning and at the end she was joined by Ali Robertson. Firstly on guitar and then later on piano as she took centre stage and sang.
She has a great voice. Loads of range. Able to hit high notes and able to pull off the smokiness that these songs need.
There’s just the right amount of sadness and darkness to the songs too.
She’s an artist worth keeping tabs on. And you may well get the chance to as this is not her only appearance this month.
When Hannah and Andy take to the stage there’s not much of an introduction and there’s no chat between songs.
Just eleven songs in a row, an album from start to finish. So there’s no context. There’s no “this song is about…”
The music has to stand or fall alone. And it’s bit like going on a musical journey.
We have Hannah on vocals, guitar and fiddle, Andy on guitar, Peter Kelly on drums and Emer Tumilty on keys.
Their first couple of songs are set against a backdrop of an almost abstract soundscape.
The guitars and keys don’t really play the tune but add atmosphere. The next is driven on by pounding drums.
I could describe all the things that I’m reminded of on hearing these songs but I won’t because it’s all of them and yet none of them. A nice blend of the familiar and the unknown.
One song, which may be called ‘Light’ (If I can decipher the set list) starts with Hannah playing slowly on the fiddle like a slow air and then gradually builds into something quite joyous.
The downside of hearing something completely new like this is that there’s a lot of subtlety that washes over you. These eleven songs will definitely benefit from repeated listening.
Last song ‘Arthur’ is just a gloriously joyous piece of music from the start to the very abrupt ending.
And with that, it’s all over. “Thank you for taking a gamble on us,” said Hannah to close before the band left the stage.
So was it worth it? In a word. Yes.