A few weeks ago I headed down to the Black Box in Belfast to watch Conway Savage. Now, who in the name of Elvis is Conway bloody Savage I hear you all cry. Well, his day job is serving as Nick Cave’s pianist in the Bad Seeds and he has a few solo records out there too. This was his first tour of Ireland and I was covering the show for Hot Press. I was there with my lovely editor Roisin (who was also co-booking the tour ) and it was a fun night.
The gig was an odd one though. I adore a love sick ballad as much as anyone, but the pricklyness (yes, I know that’s not a word) of both the performer and punters made for an pretty uneasy feeling. Afterwards we hung out with Conway for a bit and while he seemed nice enough, he was also a man who is far too used to getting his own way. At one point I got a round in at the bar and he demanded a double whiskey. I bought him a single and told him “it’d fuckin’ do him.” I think he got the hint after that as he seemed lovely from there on out.
Anywho, his music is definitely worth a listen or three (though nowhere near as good as Old Nick’s back catalogue) and here is the review from the current issue of Hot Press.Enjoy.
Conway Savage, Mark Corcoran at the Black Box, Belfast
There is a definite air of expectation in Belfast tonight. It might be early, but we’ve already got punters arriving down in droves to catch what promises to be a pretty special night. But before we get to the inimitable Mr Savage, Dundalk’s Mark Corcoran is up first and seems keen to cater to the crowd. Peddling a clutch of love-sick sea shanties, Corcoran has a bewitching voice. Tunes like ‘I Went Out Walking’ and ‘the Mermaid Sings’ are definite highlights and we’d like to hear more from the soft-spoken guitar-slinger in the future.
Shortly after Corcoran croons his last tune, tweed-clad ivory-tinkler Conway Savage skips (yes, skips) his way onstage in double-quick time. From the start of his set it’s as clear as the inside of an empty whiskey bottle that the erstwhile Bad Seed has some great songs up his sleeve. Culled largely from his latest record Quickie For Ducky Conway is an engaging, if slightly erratic performer. As he bashes on his old Yamaha keyboard he stamps his foot to keep time while scanning the crowd to make sure we all pay attention as he sings songs of love and madness (‘Too Blind To See,’ ‘Same Old Shitty Little Rules’). At one point an unsuspecting magazine reader gets it in the neck from the Australian (“Good book, love?” he asks) but for the most part he seems genuinely happy to receive his applause and often spins around after each song like a puppy doing tricks.
There are times when he loses his audience though and that was apparent on the dirge-like ‘The Cross’ but those moments were few and far between in a set that was packed with hidden treasures. After a few minutes offstage Conway comes back for an encore and closes his gig with ‘Don’t Plan On Leaving Town.’ It seems to sum up his performance in three minutes-beautiful, witty, loveable, but utterly, utterly stark raving mad and we wouldn’t want him any other way.