The Buyer’s Club, Liverpool
29th April 2018

Aghagallon’s own Ciaran Lavery needs no introduction to Irish readers, but on a sunny spring Sunday in Liverpool he is a new prospect.

That said, with Liverpool’s Harvest Sun Promotions running the show he’s in good company. With Scott Matthews, Lord Huron, Shonen Knife and Grant Lee Phillips taking Harvest Sun spots this month they clearly know what they’re doing.

Our history of Ciaran includes early Captain Kennedy shows, an unashamed love of his ‘Sea Legs’ project with Ryan Vail and a joyful ‘Sea Legs’ show in Liverpool and countless solo shows over the years in and around Belfast. We’ve watched him change, swoon, swerve and mature so this is a bit of a treat being so far from home.

For this evenings event, Ciaran is joined by local lads Mike West and Emilio Pinchi, with West taking to the stage at a very respectable 7.45. Not nearly enough time for a pint in the sun, but we gave it our best shot.

West delivers a set dripping in an often-subtle anger that sometimes isn’t so subtle. He hails from a place filled with metal music and a stint in a Metallica-esque cover band. It shows, he sings with a guttural growl, harking back to early eighties acoustic rock, telling tales of broken towns and broken hearts. We didn’t realise the Wirral had it so rough.

It’s a rather joyous set, a perfect set of songs to rile us up for a Monday morning back at the office. If we had one qualm it’s the Mid-Atlantic voice he adopts. He sounds as scouse between songs as you’d imagine, but he seems to flit off on a voyage to the Mid-West someplace. We reckon he’d be better anchored to the North West and let the scouse fly.

Emilio Pinchi is next on and things are ramped up considerably. Given that we’ve seen Emilio’s name on many a list over the last couple of years, we haven’t actually managed to catch him live, and we go to a good few shows.

He’s been touted as the new boy to watch by a lot of local press and picked up on BBC Radio6, not bad for a newcomer. All that given, this show was long overdue, he brings keys, drums, a second guitarist and some tech, it’s a melodic wander through his head and heart, there are snippets of humour and local jokes. The snare drum seems to carry much of his melody, adding an urgency to his stories. With a summer of festivals booked, this year should be as bright as the Mersey sunset.

Ciaran takes to the stage well ahead of schedule, and frankly, we knew from the offset there should have been more time for a pint. Nonetheless, Lavery gets to work pretty quickly on what is his first show under his own flag in Liverpool, his last trip was as Sea Legs at Leaf Cafe, and a remarkable show it was too. Ciaran regales us with tales of Travelodges, parking problems, getting lost and finding joy in motorways, laybys and petrol stations. Apparently, touring is all about simple pleasures.

He launches into a set that includes ‘Wells Tower Song’, ’13’, ‘Blood Red Fist’ and ‘Okkervil River’, a highlight is a stripped down, sweet version of ‘Shame’, delivered with as much passion as a city with piss poor parking allows a man to do.

It was a glorious thing, even if it does generate a parking ticket later. Such is the woe of a travelling troubadour. The set is a near perfect introduction to his work, there are bits of Bob Dylan, snippets of Bruce Springsteen and an inkling of Bon Iver. The harmonies are pitch perfect and there is ne’er a beat out of place, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

A standout moment comes just after a pre-agreed pretend encore when the three stand front and centre and sing ‘Return To Form’. There is very little PA involved, giving the impression of something entirely acoustic, everything is sent through his amp and the three, Ciaran, Thomas, and Dan sound otherworldly.

The show ends with a rousing version of ‘Trains’ that sends everyone off with something of a spring in their step, there was barely a peep throughout the show but those who were there made their presence felt as the curtain fell, while there wasn’t a huge turnout we imagine things will look very different next time around.