Last Thursday I strolled into Whelans on Wexford Street not knowing exactly what to expect. The evening was billed as ‘Winter Longing- An Evening with Mongoose and Friends’ and promised to “explore unrequited love and yearning in the depths of Irish winter” and “Satisfy your winter longings at this night of music and poetry!”. What the packed venue was treated to was quite possibly the ideal way to spend a cold November night. It was an opportunity to slip comfortably into Winter and explore the emotions that this sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful season often evokes.
In an unusual manner, the headliners opened the show playing some of the beautifully crafted songs from their self titled debut album. It’s hard to describe how amazing perfectly arranged harmonies sound when performed this well. Mongoose sound like they have been singing together their entire lives. Their harmonies blend so well they become one singular ocean of sound, it really is jaw dropping stuff. It comes as no surprise that they’ve been selected for the Other Voices music trail this year.
Next up was a stripped back set from the Young Folk, really lovely modern folk songs performed on Acoustic Guitar and Melodica featuring great harmonies(something of a reoccurring theme throughout the night).
Canadian born Dimitra Xidous, the first of the poets on the night, performed some very interesting and sexually charged poems, my favorite of which was Keeping Bees, which is also the title of her book of poetry available here.
Niamh Regan, the first solo act of the night, is a singer songwriter who plays captivating reflective pieces with some very interesting guitar work. I couldn’t find much recorded work online, so I’m interested to see what she does next.
Next up was Griff, better known for his work fronting New Secret Weapon. Griff’s solo work is very different to the band, but still similar in influence and performance. Fans of Jeff Buckley’s work will definitely like this material. Griff will be releasing a solo EP early next year so watch this space.
After a short interval to wrap our minds around the first half of the evening, The Eskies hit the stage for what they described as “Probably the least noise we’ve ever made on stage”. The band, well known for their energetic and raucous live shows, treated us to a rare glimpse of their quieter side on this occasion. They even gave us a sneak peek at a brand new song, their take on the archetypal story of crossing paths with the devil in the style of an old sea shanty!
The second poet of the night was the wonderful Eoghan O’Ceannabháin, brother of Muireann from Mongoose and a musician in his own right in the band Skippers Alley. Eoghan’s poems explored the disconnect of the digital devices that simultaneously connect and distance us. His words are powerful and thought provoking. He is initially nervous but his words speak for themselves. One topical poem about the situation in France and Syria receives a standing ovation with clapping that refuses to die down. If you have a chance to see this man perform, do it.
Mongoose returned to the stage to finish off the night with some more tracks including the gorgeous ‘Can I see you tonight’ and their fantastic new single ‘Slow Burning Feeling’. As the evening came to a close their was a distinct air of satisfaction among everyone in attendance. Apparently it’s been suggested that they should make it a yearly occurrence. For all those who missed out on this gig, I sincerely hope they do.
The band will performing at the Christmas Craic’er gig in aid of Focus Ireland on December 20th along with some other fantastic musicians, details here.