Nicole Maguire Live at The Pavillion Bar, by Cian Corbett
The delicately candle-lit Pavillion Bar in Cork City seemed like the ideal venue for Nicole Maguire’s gentle set of home grown love songs and life lessons. The Conna native first came on the scene as one of the bright graduates from Colaiste Stiofan Naofa’s Music Management and Sound Course, which is responsible for churning out stars such as Mick Flannery and Sineád Lohan. Since graduating in 2005 she has released a debut album Beautiful Dreams, toured with Nanci Griffith and has made several trips to Nashville attending writing workshops and that all important word in music, networking.
The crowd have been suitably warmed up by Cork Singer/songwriter Clare O’ Mahony, fresh from her Canadian Tour. Her international touring experience is reflected in her ease with the crowd and has honed her craft of writing lilting love-songs. She offers brief introductions to each song but the crystal clear lyrics and expressive tones almost render them unnecessary. Clare’s set is short and sweet and was a favourable advertisement for her album “Secret World”.
Nicole and Anth take to the stage just after half past ten and the crowd are instantly disarmed by Nicole’s self deprecating humour by commenting on her flowing white shirt
“Tonight will be very informal, I’m even wearing my pyjamas!”
Their first song of the night is “Falling for the truth”, Nicole’s honest take on dishonest relationships. It’s a thoughtful start to the night with Nicole taking lead vocals and plucking chords accompanied by Anth Kaley filling in the spaces on piano.
Nicole and Anth are joined onstage by the rest of the session band for the next song “Standing Here Alone”, co-written by drummer Brian Dunlea (formally of 90’s indie band The Young Offenders). This number has a defiant country shuffle and country picking guitar style. The chorus is lifted by 3-part backing harmonies, proving the calibre of backing musicians chosen for tonight.
The highlight of the night comes with the song “Long Drive Home”, written a month previously on one of Nicole’s Nashville pilgrimages. Like its US inspired predecessors, it displays a sensitive reflection on a relationship against a backdrop of a long lonely road. Again the shuffle of the snare drum, steady country bass and slide guitar complete the western picture.
The country influence is unmistakably evident in Nicole’s recent writing but having seen her previous performances in The Lobby Bar and The Cruiscín Lán, this reviewer could not help hoping her old classics would surface somewhere in tonight’s set. Songs which are unashamedly in the style of an Irish singer/songwriter like “Someone’s Rose” or “Just a Sin” are left out of the running order in favour of newer compositions maybe displaying the writers pride in her latest offerings.
While I did feel a little cheated by their omission, in the end, it’s probably not a bad thing leaving your audience yearning to hear previous writing compelling this reviewer to put those lost songs in the “Classic Nicole Maguire” archives.
For more information on Nicole Maguire see here