Gavin James – Irish charm in abundance

Last night Irish singer-songwriter Gavin James finally made it to Rotondes. His November show had been rescheduled but since then his reputation has only continued to grow with the release of his debut album “Bitter Pill”.

Over the last couple of years James has supported some of the biggest acts around, from opening for Ed Sheeran at Croke Park, to being the main support for Sam Smith’s arena tour of America. He even became the first artist to sell out the 1600 capacity Olympia in Dublin before an album release. So I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised at how busy Rotondes was last night.

The support was from another Irish singer-songwriter Craig Gallagher, who it turns out has just hit the top of the Irish charts himself and it was easy to understand why. His affable persona instantly endeared him to the crowd whilst his voice had a depth and character, which silenced the casual talkers from the first note. He even managed to get the audience singing along which is no mean feat for a support act.

As James took to the stage there was a roar from the crowd, it was apparent he had already won the crowds adulation but for those who were still not sure, it didn’t take long for his Irish whit and charisma to bring them round.

James’ songs may tackle tough subject matters but his light touch and sense of humour meant it at no point got too heavy. As he said his songs are quite depressing so he gets a good laugh in-between just to lighten the mood.

His vocals are warm and soulful and his emotionally charged lyrics such as on “22” draw you into his anguish and pain. There is no lyric or note wasted here and his conviction on delivery only made it that bit more powerful.

He even gave us a taste of his debut album (which is not yet out here), with the title track “Bitter Pill” which looked to continue down the route of the soulful anguish. Then he jumped off the stage and into the middle of the crowd to play a cover of Ray Charles “You Don’t Know Me”, no mic, no amps just him and his guitar, serenading the crowd. It’s moments like that which make going to live music so special.

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For the encore he brought Craig Gallagher back on to the stage to sing Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”. Once more leading the very willing crowd into another sing along. At that moment with both of them on stage I thought we could be looking at the two next big musical exports from a country with such a rich musical history.

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From what I had heard of James’s EP I wasn’t expecting too much from this gig but I feel that last night was the classic example of why people should go to as much live music as possible. Even those shows you think might not be for you can surprise you and leave you thoroughly entertained and wanting more. I’d be taken aback if one person walked out that gig last night having not been converted. I’m sure next time he’s back it’ll be to an even bigger audience than that of last night.

30/01/16 – Rotondes

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