Malojian live in Belfast
Friday 26th January 2018
The Duncairn Centre situated just off the Antrim Road in North Belfast is fast gaining a reputation as a beautiful venue featuring a variety of great acts. Upstairs, the music venue is reminiscent of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, and tonight, the audience was treated to a magical feast of music.
First up is Steph Cameron. First time on a tour outside her native Canada, but already creating a buzz in the Americana scene. With a writing style that hints at John Prine and a voice all her own, Steph easily wins the capacity crowd over with an almost full hour set of self-penned songs. Many of the songs are about her home in Saskatoon but all are universal in their theme. Her current album in particular ‘Daybreak Over Jackson Street’ highlights her need to advocate for the everyman and calls out the politicians and authority figures for their neglect and greed.
There’s gangsters on the street I know. They’re dressed the part from head to toe. You should see the way their badges glow at daybreak down on Jackson street.
Social Justice is a key element in much of her material but the message is delivered with a verve and an energy that fills the room. Her guitar playing is a revelation and later praised and compared to his own in his usual unassuming manner by Malojian’s Stevie Scullion. It’s unusual for a support act to get called back for an encore but that’s what happens with Steph tonight… and richly deserved it is!
Four albums in and the most surprising fact about Malojian is that they are not a much bigger act. Lurgan man Stevie Scullion as Malojian has produced some of the most glorious music this island has heard in a long time.
Tonight he is accompanied by a band of four; Una McCann on keyboard and accordion, Rachel Boyd on violin, Laura McFadden on cello, and Andrew Murray on guitar. It’s not your expected instrumentation for a band but Malojian is no ordinary band. The music, for the most part, is quiet, hushed and beautiful. At times you can hear a guitar pick drop. Songs such as opener ‘Whittle Me Down’ and ‘The Purity Of Your Smile’ are gorgeous and rapturously received by an ever-appreciative crowd.
There is humour aplenty too. Stevie sings of ninjas and saving “the congregation from the paramilitary fool” and tells tales in his laid-back, self-depreciating style of ghosts on tour and drinking petrol bombs… You had to be there for that one.
Mid-paced songs such as ‘Lean On Me’ and the pop sounds of ‘Ambulance Song’ have the audience singing along. The delicious ‘Old Timer’ has you questioning why no one ever thought of rhyming “old timer” with “kinder” before such is Scullion’s way with words.
Covers of Neil Young’s ‘Out On The Weekend’ and Nilsson’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ blend seamlessly into the set. The gig is accompanied with visuals from the Northern Ireland Film Archive, displaying images of a bygone age; holidays on the coast, tinted football matches, displayed on a side wall and perfectly matching the mood of the evening.
There is an intimate feel to tonight, like watching an old friend, albeit a terrifically talented old friend play in your front room. There are reminiscences of almost forgotten words of advice, from someone wiser, from long ago, with a heavenly accompanying violin.
Remember all the good times. When I was a small child you would call to me.
Now is the time to go and see Malojian, while they still play these smaller beautiful venues before the much-deserved call to the big time. When that comes, remember who told you so!