Sean C Kennedy - Magnum Theatre Review

Posted on Saturday 15th August 2015 21:45 by FreckFest

A new standard was set at the weekend, not only be headliner Sean C Kennedy, but also by the two excellent support acts. Never have we seen such an excellent, professional show by anyone appearing under the Freckfest banner.

Josh Fraser was up first. A name unfamiliar to almost all of the audience, the Largs youngster appeared on Sean’s recommendation and proceeded to woo the early comers with a faultless set of acoustic originals, enhanced by the addition of an anonymous keyboard player. This wasn’t Josh’s only appearance on stage tonight, as he returned with his electric guitar to form part of Sean’s band. But more of that later.

               

The second act caught me totally unaware and knocked me clean off my feet. They were fantastic. King Of Birds sometimes play as a 4 piece, but for this gig they appeared as a duo. The two brothers, Cha and Stirling Gorman were a dandy riot; pointy boots, carefully sculpted facial hair and tweed waistcoats as close-knit as their two-part harmonies. Singing songs of love and regret, their selection of Caledonian country crooners sprung to mind the Everly Brothers, a fact underlined when they played a jaw-dropping version of Walk Right Back. That their own original material was at least the equal of their choice of cover version tells you all you need to know. It’s likely King Of Birds and Josh Fraser will return to the more intimate settings of the HAC at some point. Watch this space.   

                                                                   

And so to the main attraction. We at Freckfest have seen Sean C Kennedy perform live many times before and we are all well aware of his potential. We’re also in the fortunate position to have had an exclusive playback of his upcoming album, so we know too how good his songs sound in a studio setting. What was astonishing on Friday night though was the way that Sean managed to perfectly recreate the sonic textures of his recorded work in the live setting.

There was no amateurish rockist thunk. No misplaced drum rolls. Nary a squeal of stray feedback. Sean and his band were supremely slick. His songs floated out into the ether, light, airy and flying high on a breeze of well-placed melody. All of the album was played, from lead single You Don’t Have To Feel Lonely, to hits-in-waiting It Won’t Go Away and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. Watercolour Dreams (a co-write with Nik Kershaw) sounded fantastic given the full band treatment. Slow Me Down burned like a Memphis soul track straight off of the Stax record label. The Love You Owe stood out, a country rock duet-in-waiting. Sean has Bonnie Raitt in mind for the female part. That’s how high he’s setting his sights. And d’you know what? He just might get there.

                                                                   

Sean was on fine, fine form; talkative, funny and singing his songs with a casual professionalism that shone with a 24 carat sparkle. He’s come on leaps and bounds from even 6 months ago. And he was excellent then. Clearly, a lot of time has been spent rehearsing and drilling his top notch 6-piece band, a band comprised of the finest sessioneers and seasoned live musicians that can be found. They sounded fantastic; a heady brew of subtle keys and considered percussion, shimmering, twanging and riffing electric guitars and a drummer playing just behind the beat, attacking his kit with extreme bursts of lethargy in-between the quiet bits, maybe more easy street than E Street, but a key component of Sean’s success. His band knew when to play it loud and when to restrain themselves. Perhaps it was the white Gretsch Falcon sported by Josh Fraser or the Fender Jazzmaster held slightly too high in the style of Robbie Robertson, but now and again they had me in mind of Buffalo Springfield or The Band, or any number of those old 60s groups that could really play.

                                                                   

Most of the time, the band stood motionless and free of distraction on stage, spread out behind Sean at the front in a V formation so that all eyes were on the singer. Sean carried off the role as leader with aplomb. He was in his rightful place at the front, his future as bright as the star-speckled backdrop behind him. With a bit of luck on his side, Sean may well be Irvine’s greatest-ever musical export.

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