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flag England - Full Moon 54 - 03/09/01

Tom McRae
Whelan's, Dublin 23.02.2001

In a generation where music journalism is defined by the writer's ability to invent new and wacky nomenclature to cover a style of music only assumed by a handful of musicians, it is easy to then understand why Tom McRae has been tarred with the folky singer-songwriter brush.

With the great success of Elliott Smith and of the Nick Drake re-issues, it seems interest in the solo artist's merry-go-round-of-fortune has come swung in favour again. There is no need to be scared though, thankfully there is a virtual feast of genuine talent around including people like McRae himself and Ireland's David Kitt. McRae has travelled accompanied only by a cellist, and what McRae lacks in onstage accomplices he makes up in wit and intimacy with his audience. 'I don't know why I'm talking to you (the audience), normally when I play, I shut the fuck up!'

His sturdy frame looms over the silenced audience for the night as he lays down the melodies used as a platform to spit angry lyrics at anyone in his path: 'If songs could kill this one goes out to you'. The lyrical longevity and songmanship displayed far outway the constraints of his lack of musical accomplices.

New song Street Light and recent single You cut her hair show a hallowed and creepy sensitivity while he dons the agit-rock hat on Bubble Ray Boy before capping off a finne professional performance with Language of Fools the strongest tune in his bag.

Tonight will not go down in memory as a great or forgettable performance. It was, however, ample to instill enough curiosity to want to track his steps. He'll folk your way soon.

Copyright © 2001 Colm Downes e-mail address

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