NZ Festival 2014: James Cabaret
Sunday, March 9
Irish singer/songwriter Paul Brady has had success with his own music and through covers of his material, his songs have been interpreted by the likes of Cher, Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt. Before he settled into life as a singer/songwriter he had built his reputation as a multi-instrumentalist working with groups such as The Johnstons and Planxty, part of a wave of musicians dedicated to preserving traditional Irish balladry, reels and jigs.
So for Brady’s solo show – his first visit to Wellington – we were lucky to see both sides of this talented musician. Dipping back through his range of solo albums we were treated to his hits and near-hits such as Steel Claw and Crazy Dreams. We also heard his versions of songs that have become known through their more famous cover versions, such as Paradise Is Here (Tina Turner) and his 1995 song, Marriage Made in Hollywood, recently interpreted by Bonnie Raitt.
As he moved from keyboard to guitars, on to bouzouki and mandolin, Brady took us back to his work with The Johnstons and Andy Irvine and the tunes were punctuated with humourous, sometimes self-effacing banter and short history lessons, so much of the music informed by Ireland’s political unrest and financial difficulties.
Brady’s guitar work was often exhilarating – many audience members joined him in stomping along to the mandolin and bouzouki tunes too. And it was a real treat to see a seasoned performer still at the top of his game, the songs rivalling some of the best work by the likes of Robbie Robertson and John Hiatt, his voice so powerful as he stood back from the lone microphone, offering the songs in a spirit as close as possible to the folk movement.
It was all so effortless too, he had arrived on stage strumming the guitar and from there it was back and forth between the decades, from pop songs to traditional fare. A wonderful set from a dynamic musician.
This review appeared today in The Dominion Post – I’ve reposted it here on Off The Tracks due to requests from people wanting to view it online