Gavin James | Review
Waterfront, Belfast • Sat 30 September ’17
Tracey Hanby • Photos: Tremaine Gregg
As I headed along the now familiar M1 to Belfast nice & early, I reminisced about the first time I heard of Gavin James. I was singing in a choral group called Gospelesk who were joining Irish band Hypergiants on stage at a Beatles appreciation night in Blanchardstown. Gavin was one of the opening acts that night but everyone was whispering about him. Making him the stand out One to Watch from that night & now my claim to fame that I shared that stage with this successful Irish artist.
Shortly after that performance I followed his rising fame on social media and his pairing with Edison Waters of Collective Management leading to him being signed with Capitol Records in USA. Gavin has quickly become a household name as well as an international star remaining very connected to his grass roots following in Ireland.
Now he is selling out venues across Ireland & abroad so I was very much looking forward to seeing how he has grown as a live artist whilst endearing the audience of a packed Waterfront Auditorium.
Finding ourselves in Belfast with time on our hands, photographer Tremaine led us around the capital capturing all the great street art that was created during Culture Night. We also stumbled across a Vinyl Record Sale in the Oh Yeah Music Centre trying not to be tempted to make any purchases, it was great to see a thriving trade of old & previously loved vintage Vinyl.
On passing by the Harp Bar at 2pm we could hear quality live music from within. As always the curiosity got the better of me resulting in us wandering in off the street to find Moira Calling act Rebekah Finch performing. Talk about a happy coincidence. A lively covers gig ensued to an ever increasing crowd another testament to how talented she is.
After a busy day in the city it was time to head to the Waterfront. My first time in this venue too. You were welcomed in by an array of staff guiding you to the different areas, even the merchandising stand hosted T-shirts, CD’s & signed Vinyl courtesy of Edison, Gavin’s Manager. It was great to see the support acts with merchandising and from what I could see all were selling nicely ahead of the show.
Opening the night was the first of 2 support acts Brian McGovern hailing from Dublin. He gave a stellar performance of his 4 songs which feature on his EP called Wife. Named after a song he wrote about his friend being ditched at the altar. As he acknowledged as a singer songerwriter you might be vulnerable to having a song written about you. Not easy to open for Gavin James in such an awe dropping venue such as the Waterfront with a potential seated capacity of at least 2,500 pairs of eyes staring up at you. Overwhelming I’m sure but also rewarding as the audience engaged & gave great feedback after each song.
Next act was Craig Gallagher, yet another seasoned performer from Dublin and definitely used to these big venues with a great stage presence & witty intros and outros. Singing many of his originals songs with his guitar but also gave a great rendition of Elvis Presley ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’ which had everyone singing along to in great voice truly warming up the audience for Gavin James. He then invited Brian back on stage to join him on stage to find he was missing his guitar. Fear not for Gavin James popped onto the stage with it leaving stage right only to find he couldn’t leave that way resulting in him crashing the stage again to accompanying laughter.
Finally it was time for Gavin James to play all his originals which have already grown into a pretty impressive back catalogue of music. He also played his songs that maybe are better known as remixes with great producers such as Mark McCabe, Kygo & Alan Walker. He did jokingly acknowledge that he found it challenging to play them pretending they are the remix version. He is a very witty talented character who laughed a lot especially when he was playfully heckled by the audience. Sometimes that audience sung even louder than Gavin leaving him no choice but to fall silent & giggle. He gave an incredible rendition of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a wonderful World’ along with a pretty sharp vocal impersonation of Louis. It also morphed in Bob Dylan & a trumpet impersonation too. For most of his performance he was accompanied by a talented keyboard player, Ciaran Mackintosh, which really added to the performance as they both were interacting on stage with each other giving more body to the songs especially when we are so used to the more produced versions of his material. As he heads off on his European tour I cannot recommend catching a future show so make sure you keep an eye out on his website for a return visit to Belfast.
Written by: Tracey Hanby Music Promoter ‘Gigs Ireland’ & Dundalk FM broadcaster ‘100% Irish’ & ‘Gigs Ireland presents The Takeover’
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