Ailbhe Reddy at St. Pancras Old Church, London

“This is a song called ‘Failure’” says Ailbhe Reddy halfway through her set as part of London’s Folk & Roots Festival. “It’s about success.” An apt theme on a night that could have ended disastrously, but instead became one of triumph for the Dubliner.

Opening her set alone on the church pulpit, proceedings get off to a flawless start with Reddy’s vocals, combined with the church acoustics, shining during ‘Never Loved’ from this year’s EP ‘Attach To Memory’.

She’s joined by Keith O’Reilly on keys for ‘Selfish’ and then by Katie Lynn on violin (a pun on which she has played for many a year), for ‘Seasonal’. “This is it, no more re-arranging, I know it’s overwhelming,” quips Reddy as the rest of her band take their spot.

Churches make for beautiful gig venues and their acoustics are second to none, most of the time. However, add a full band to a venue more suited to stripped-back acoustic sets and issues can arise.

‘Coffee’, a song about falling in love with a barista “because that’s the nature of caffeine addictions” survives the poor mix, getting a particularly appreciative response from the parishioners in attendance.

‘Distrust’, ‘Keepsake’ and ‘Relent’ unfortunately do not. Reddy’s vocals are too low in the mix and the power of her lyrics are lost, with just her crowd interaction keeping things from turning sour. “I recognise my Dad’s cough there. How’s it going? Good to see you again!”

Fortunately, the sound desk have got their affairs in order by the time new song ‘Failing’ begins, a pop-tastic song about success, with a bassline so smooth, you almost feel guilty hearing it in a church.

Speaking of which, a not-so-censored rendition of ‘Fingertips’ is the night’s highlight, with Reddy’s mother, whose birthday it is, being the most vocal in calling for the unedited version to be played.

As the set draws to a close with ‘Disconnect’, the church’s acoustics play a significant role once again. It’s a positive one this time, however, as it echoes the crowd’s calls for “one more song”, which, according to keyboardist Keith, is a request Ailbhe was all-too-ready to grant.

A quick rendition of another new song ‘Delicate Kid’ and Reddy disappears once again stage right to reflect on a successful UK tour. Failure for Ailbhe Reddy couldn’t be a more-distant prospect.


Featured Image Source: Charlotte Lachaussee

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