Reviews 2011

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Kieran Halpin

Mick Harrington 10 June 2011

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What makes a good gig great? Well, those lucky enough to see Kieran Halpin at the Woodman last Friday should have had that experience. Kieran is really the ultimate professional. His easy, relaxed manner belies years of experience and a well-planned set. Mixing ‘greatest hits’ with more recent material, Kieran maintains interest throughout, clearly indicating an impressive back catalogue, hardly surprising after more than 30 years on the road. But like all top performers he keeps moving, with new material and he takes on established songs making his act exciting and unpredictable. Many of his songs are very personal – about or for his two daughters, ‘The bigger picture’ and ‘Singing boots’ for example, others of lost friends such as the poignant tribute to the much-missed John Wright ‘So long John’. Although this included a straightforward chorus, there appeared to be few in the crowd who joined in, moved I suspect by the sentiment of the song and the memories of John at the club. Others songs are more political or based on specific events – ‘Berlin calling’ and the more recent ‘Bankers’ for example. However, although Kieran ‘s material is virtually all self-penned, his version of Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘Raglan Road’ is arguably the definitive version, though in my more nostalgic mode, I admit Luke Kelly would be a close contender for this accolade.

If you close your eyes during Kieran gig, you would be convinced there were several instruments accompanying him - his aggressive attack on his well-worn guitar a lesson for many aspirants, though they would need to invest in plenty of spare strings!

All too soon the brilliant evening came to an end, not before an encore of course. Excellent support was provided by Velvet Green and Bryn Phillips who also acted as M.C. for the night. Good beer as usual and a topical heckle from Paul (details on request) completed a great evening.