a Review of Greg Clifford’s Debut Album Launch Gig
by Liam Oragh
So I’ve gotta say that there are not many gigs or events that would drag this lazy reviewer away from a Premiership Football highlights programme when he hasn’t seen the results on a cold Saturday evening at the start of December but I’ve also gotta say that after experiencing Greg Clifford’s debut album launch gig in Whelans in Dublin that I’m definitely glad that I did.
The portents were not great – it was late in starting (the sound engineer must have gone missing with a barmaid and half the cables or something!) and we were forced to wait outside in a concrete atrium full of smokers – we were in bad need of a warming up and fortunately for us MT’s Ciaran Brennan (host of the Music ladder and terrific singer-songwriter) stepped up to fill that role – launching into a quick fire set of some of his memorable tunes.
From the smoothness of ‘Walking Away’ to the confident pleadings of ‘Falling at your Feet’; to a seering cover version of Radiohead’s ‘High and Dry’; before going onto arguably his best and favourite songs – the up-tempo ‘Paying the Price of a Guilty Man’ before seguing into the familiar frantic guitar intro to ‘Don’t Need Nobody’. “That was a slow song compared with this!,” he quipped beforehand. The only thing missing was TFK on snarling backing vocals as he had done spontaneously at Al’s Jam the week beforehand. Ciaran lets his songs do the talking, and talking they did, and he went down really well with the packed and expectant crowd who by now were all set for Greg to light the place up..
And so up popped Greg – out of the comfort of a quiet session, and into the limelight of a full-on gig – he was clearly relishing this – and we knew we were in for something special once his funky guitar started strumming and once we heard him swap between the twin sets of microphones that had been set up to sing through, one of them with a distorted/voice-box effect that added a powerful dynamic and raw grit to his vocal performance.
Once he started into his beautiful Beatles-influenced ballad ‘When you’re Gone’ he had the crowd eating out of his hand and this was only 2 songs in.
The flawless technique of Greg’s hypnotic guitar plucking on ‘Changing Everyday’ will stay with me – and this was when he started invited friends up to accompany him, with Jack Sherry on flute adding some lovely layers and flavours.
Shrugging off some technical gremlins and feedback glitches with the ease of a comedian who incorporates a heckler into his routine, Greg treated us to an excellent new song called ‘Take off your Mask’ which he promised to feature on his follow up album.
But it was when the full band joined him about 6 or 7 songs in that this gig really kicked off and came alive in a way that had the crowd buzzing. Feeding off the audience whom he had clapping along during ‘On the Road’ he then launched into a scintillating version of ‘Wasting Away’ which started with some deceptive classical guitar playing before the full band started making the walls throb in this cosy shadowy venue.
But it was the extended performance of ‘Revolver’ that will have people talking about this gig for some time to come – “Sing along if you know it – make it up if you don’t,” he exhorted at the beginning before tearing the place up with a pulsating performance with some heavily distorted electric guitar. Of course entertainer that he is, Greg decided to glug down a couple of bottles of beer during this song and then use the empty beer bottles for a little extra slide guitar effect. The crowd were rocking and loving it at this stage and so a megaphone was produced which Greg started singing through before coming down into the
audience like a mad pied piper encouraging them to do likewise.
That’s a good cliff-hanger to finish on – makes you wish you’d been there doesn’t it…..
Category: Artist/Band Spotlight