Cian Nugent at Whelan’s – Review and Photos

cian-nugent-whelans-50Cian Nugent opened for Daniel Bachman at Whelan’s on Wednesday 3rd of July.

The young guitarist emerged from the relaxed, chatting crowd to take to the small upstairs stage. Dressed all in white against the red background, he tuned up while eager, candlelit faces looked up from the audience.

His opening number was ‘First Time Away’ was gentle and soothing to open before moving into a repeated finger-picking pattern then alternating with longer, slightly countryish twanging notes that were mellow with just the faintest hint of melancholy. The crowd were totally hushed throughout the number.

He talked briefly about getting in trouble with TG4 earlier in the day for not returning their van! He went on to sing a song called ‘Hire Purchase’ whose higher opening notes were almost electric and it had a really indie-folk sound. Quicker, higher finger-picked notes contrasted beautifully with deeper, lower strums. He relayed the story of his first time meeting main act Daniel, he drunkenly gave him a lift in a pickup truck!

He carried on the night with ‘The Grass Above My Head’. This one was a real highlight of the set showing off his incredible skills as he created his own steady bassline rhythm on the low notes while finger picking the melody. This song had a slightly darker tone to it but also had striking soulful almost Spanish-guitar moments. It transformed towards the end as the pace picked up and the tone became more upbeat and it was almost danceable-a definite toe-tapper.

Watching him play was phenomenal because as the song wound towards the end with slower final notes drifting out you could see his body relaxing into the music as though he was releasing his own powerful inner soundtrack.

His final song was a long ballad- a cover of Black Flag’s ‘My War’. The opening notes were singular, staccato, spaced out. He rested his head on the guitar as he began to release more and more notes together betweem pauses before the song took off. It felt like an adventure story unfolding on a dark and unknown road, volume building to a sudden stop before it soared back in again. The sound transformed and changed constantly, mellow one minute and almost threatening the next, indie hints then country tones. By the end the song felt almost totally different to the one he began playing and it was a gorgeous acoustic journey.

Cian Nugent’s set was a superb way to spend the early evening and he made it a performance with the way he played-as though the guitar was a part of him, an extension of his body. He has a gift for exploiting contrast-sudden sharp notes standing out from melodic combinations. Magical.

Review by Kat Clinch

Photos by Tudor Marian


Lucy Ivan

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