Eleanor McEvoy is no stranger to Belfast, but this is her first time playing the Cathedral Quarter’s Black Box venue. She always draws a good crowd in the city and despite the warm, sunny weather and the fact it’s Mother’s Day, tonight is no exception.
Opening with the non-conformist ‘I Want To Look Like Me’ from 2010’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blonde’ album, Eleanor sets the tone for an evening that’s full of protest songs as well as passionate and heartstring-tugging tunes.
‘Deliver Me’ is a stinging attack on the hypocrisy of the Catholic church, PF Sloan’s ‘Edge Of Destruction’ is given a new lease of life and revived relevance in the post-truth era of Donald Trump, while the fiery ‘Wrong So Wrong’ is a passionate tale of lust which features some blinding violin playing.
Highlighting her skills as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Eleanor accompanies herself tonight on guitar, piano, and violin, performing rearranged versions of some her best-known work as featured on 2016’s ‘Naked Music’. It’s a technique that allows the listener to focus on the lyrics as well as marvel at the talented musician on the stage.
‘Sophie’, a song that has been picked by music therapy organisations, is delivered in a heartfelt manner and a bluesy stripped back version of ‘Memphis Tennessee’ is also included in tonight’s set, played as a tribute to the late Chuck Berry.
There are glimpses of newer material inspired by the Irish poet Thomas Moore followed by the promise of a new album featuring his material and judging by audience reaction it may not only be a successful creative move, but also a fan favourite.
An audible gasp from the audience greets Eleanor’s best-known song ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’. It might be almost a quarter of century old, but it’s lost none of its appeal to her fans.
An impromptu encore treats the audience to a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’, which sees Eleanor not only go unplugged but also perform the song in the middle of the audience to their great delight.
Tonight’s show was a professional master class in performance, songwriting, and empathy. Eleanor McEvoy knows her audience well and after the show has time for everyone as they wait patiently to get their merchandise signed and share stories of what her music means to each and every one of them.
Twenty-five years on from her musical breakthrough, the fire of Eleanor McEvoy’s creativity still burns as bright as ever and we look forward to hearing more from her in 2017.