The Lyric Theatre, Belfast
9th June 2019

The big question arising out of tonight’s gig, is why it took 24 years for this pair to record an album together? Kieran Goss, long regarded as one of Irish folk’s brightest stars and songwriters, and his wife Annie Kinsella, a consummate voice in her right and one-time member of much loved Fallen Angels, took over the Lyric Theatre and produced an evening of warmth, craic, emotion, and great songs.

The album, ‘Oh The Starlings’ is itself a thing of quiet beauty, and tonight, the songs were distilled to their pure essence of guitar and voice(s) and delivered beautifully.

In between songs we had explanations, history lessons, marital tiffs and reconciliations, and laughs aplenty. For the most part, the songs were not classical duets, with verses alternating between the singers. Rather it was the harmonising on the chorus, for the most part, that held the crowd in quiet thrall to the couple.

From the opening title track to the closing lullaby in the encore, ‘Time To Go Sleeping’, there was rarely a note out of place. Kieran’s voice lends itself well to a female counter, as it did so well on his gorgeous 1992 album with Frances Black.

Given his talents as a songwriter, a surprise is much of the material is covers or co-writes. But when they are of the quality of ‘Michael’s Orchard’, a song for dreamers composed by Colm Sands, it’s a little quibble. Brendan Murphy chips in with four co-writes, including the superb ‘Hollywood Boulevard’.

Always the affable host, Kieran asked the Crowd if they had a good break? ‘Good, Well I had a brilliant one, and sold a shit load of CDs!” Changing the set list, and asking his wife to take the lead on ‘The Reason Why’ at short notice, led to a little tenseness on stage, however Annie rose to the occasion and delivered, again and again.

Highlight of the night, for me, was a hugely emotional and affecting ‘As Mam lay Dying’. If one wasn‘t touched by this rendition, you have a heart of stone. But the quality all night was stellar.

Sometimes all one needs is a guitar beautifully played, and a plaintive voice, singing songs that touch the heart and the soul. That is what happened at the Lyric Theatre. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait another 24 years before Kieran and Annie make their second record.