So, picture the scene, I’m in a taxi on the way back to Dublin city from Killiney in south County Dublin last Friday evening. But on top of having to take the 30 minute car journey across the county to the city, I had to continue on to Drumcondra (through the Taylor Swift traffic) to drop off a overnight bag, literally on a doorstep, before heading back into town to The Sugar Club on Leeson Street. Why the effort? Ryan Cahill was launching his new EP.
The EP, Ghosts, is a wonderful collection of beautifully crafted songs where Cahill investigates the complexities of love and the different relationships that we all have in our lives. Every song feels like a potential radio hit as Cahill’s voice demonstrates a warmth and a sincerity with every lyric that gives the songs a genuine feel that can’t be faked.
The Sugar Club served as a perfect setting for this show with the intimate atmosphere of the venue the perfect metaphor for the night that we were about to experience. Across the night there was lovely sense of pride amongst Cahill’s friends and family who had gathered to support him, and from the opening number, Thunder & Lightning, it was clear that they were in for something special.
On stage, Ryan Cahill is a charming presence. Standing at 6’4″, he immediately demands attention as he performs and there is an effortless charisma to how he interacts with the audience and his fellow musicians. A warm and funny storyteller between songs, Cahill uses this time to give the audience a better sense of the man behind the music. Then we come to the voice. There is a rawness and a sincerity to every lyric that Cahill sings, and it is a voice that instantly feels like it would be completely at home on a bigger stage than this.
Through years of intensive gigging across Dublin, Cahill has developed strong friendships with some of the most talented rising stars in Irish music and this allowed him to gather together a fantastic band to support him on the night, with Ger Monaghan (lead guitar), Amy Naessens (keys and backing vocals), Niamh Keane (strings and backing vocals), Seán McComish (bass), and Darren Bradley (drums) adding a weight to the songs. There was also an obvious camaraderie between the different performers and the level of musicianship on show was utterly compelling.
There was also plenty of variety across the night, with Cahill alternating between playing with the full band, playing solo, performing a small selection of songs as a trio with Keane and Naessens, and also a magical cover of After Rain by Dermot Kennedy with Padraig MacMahon. This kind of variation helped to showcase the aforementioned vocals of Cahill while also demonstrating his versatility as a performer and keeping the show fresh and interesting.
Special word as well for the two support acts on the night. First up was the outstanding Dan Elliott. Regular readers of the blog will be well aware of the quality of songwriter and performer that Elliott is, and this was again showcased clearly during the gorgeous thirty minute set to open proceedings.
Next up on the night was a set by the aforementioned Dublin singer/songwriter, Amy Naessens. Another regularly featured artist on this blog and performer at the Zodiac Sessions, Naessens, with occasional help from the excellent Keane, again demonstrated what a talented songwriter and vocalist she is with a wonderful set to get everyone ready for the main event.
The Sugar Club on Friday night was another prime example of the immense talent that exists on the Irish music scene at the moment and on this evidence Ryan Cahill could well be about to announce himself as one of the leading lights. Cahill himself seemed truly overwhelmed at the fact that people would want to spend their night with him. There was plenty of evidence here to suggest that it won’t be the last time that they get the chance.