Hot Press Live Review: Damien Dempsey At The Empire,Belfast

20 02 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the Damien Dempsey gig from last Christmas that ran in Hot Press.


The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

It may be as miserable as Morrissey in a McDonald’s outside on the streets of Belfast tonight, but you’d never know it inside the cosy confines of the Empire Music Hall as the great unwashed gathered here this evening are positively cockahoop at the prospect of Damien Dempsey gracing the stage. In fact, for the thirty minutes before the singer/songwriter performs his first song there are raucous chants of “DAMO! DAMO!” ringing out around the hall and when he finally does appear, the venue is a veritable sea of excitement and adoration.


“How ya Belfast, ready for a sing-song?” he asks in his thick Donaghmede accent (which sounds positively exotic round these parts) and that’s exactly what he provides for the guts of the next two hours. Opening with ‘Sing All Your Cares Away,’ the Empire feels like a football terrace as the crowd croon along to every single word. We may only be one tune in, but tonight already feels like it’s something special and we’ve got goose bumps on top of our goose bumps. “Doctors recommend singing to help with depression-just call me Dr Damo. I’ll examine you all later,” he jokes before launching into the sublime title track from his sixth record Almighty Love.


Despite the album only coming out a matter of weeks ago, the audience know every last syllable and nuance of the new stuff and it’s a testament to Dempsey’s talent for crafting powerful melodies. ‘Chris And Stevie,’ a song which the singer penned for his friends who committed suicide, is a particular highlight and it’s a beautiful lament which sounds all the more potent when his voice cracks slightly with emotion during the chorus and the reggae-infused ‘Your Pretty Smile’ (his “one happy tune”) is a touching love song delivered with honesty and sincerity.


While some might say playing the politically-charged ‘Colony’ may have been a gamble in a city which will continue to feel the effects of “those glorious days of rule” for decades to come, for this writer it was Dempsey’s performance of the night and it sounded all the more mesmerizing due to its setting (the venue was a church in its previous life). On the other hand, his version of ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ fell a little flat to these ears, but with the likes of ‘Community’ et all in his canon and a band of truly talented musicians backing him, it was only a small blip in what was a life-affirming gig. Our next appointment with Dr Damo can’t come soon enough.


Therapy? Gifted Live

23 10 2012

Following on from yesterday’s post mentioning Therapy?s headline slot at Gifted Live in Belfast, here’s some footage the boys shot of the gig.

If you look closely you can spot yours truly at the left hand side of your screen standing on the raised bit by the twinkly lights, having a wee drink and a head bob.

News From The North Week 111 (Hot Press)

22 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press. Yes, there’s a back-log of these.Sozzles!


Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you get your grubby little hands on this latest issue, NI’s favourite sons Therapy? will have just finished unleashing their very own day of rockening at the Tall Ships in Dublin. Now, if you read that last sentence and are currently lamenting your decision not to visit Ireland’s capital to see the trio unleash hell itself in the form of barbed riffs and songs about James Joyce doing dirty things with Andy Cairns’ sister, then fret no more faithful readers, as it has literally just been announced at the time of writing that the boys will be playing a headline show in Belfast at the Empire Music Hall on October 4.


Topping the bill at the always ace Gifted Live extravaganzas, the gig will be the first time Therapy? have played in the venue since their near mythic date in 2000 and this full-on set should see airings of some of their new material from current LP A Brief Crack Of Light,so it’s shaping up to be a bit special. Also on the bill are Fighting With Wire, the Original Rudeboys, Silhouette, Jason Clarke and Robert Vincent and there will be special recorded appearances from Mojo Fury and more. Admission is a mere £10 and for more info check out See you down the front.


Next up, well thought of Bangor indie types Kowalski have bagged themselves the support slot on the Cast of Cheers’ upcoming Irish tour. Kicking off in Whelan’s, Dublin on Sep 19, the rest of the dates include Roisin Dubh, Galway (Sep 20) Dolan’s, Limerick (Sep 21), the Forum, Waterford (Sep 22), the Pavilion, Cork (Sep 23) and the Limelight, Belfast (Sep 24). The band will also be joining Two Door Cinema Club for seven dates on their European tour this November and for a full run down check out


The organisers behind the immense Belfast Culture Night have revealed some details on this year’s shin-dig (which takes place on Sep 21). The mighty Kasper Rosa, Eatenbybears and Parachutes Over Paris all play a sure to incendiary show at the Black Box in the city and to keep updated on the event visit


Finally this fortnight, news has just broken that the Answer have inked a deal with Napalm Records. Yes folks, the legendary home of all things loud and lairy now have Cormac and the boys in their stable and in a group statement they said:


“We’re very excited to be given this opportunity and can’t wait to get started. 2013 belongs to THE ANSWER…you heard it here first!”