Declan O’Rourke at The Pavilion Theatre – Review
Much more than your standard gig, last night was an audience with Declan O’Rourke. An intimate setting in a boutique theatre on the sea front in south Dublin. The unusually warm late September eve, beckoning twilight upon the eager appreciators of Mr. O’Rourke’s art. This national treasure stands before us, shirt sleeves rolled up proudly displaying the expansive set list written lovingly in green marker by his young son.
We embark on a journey of tales spanning the decade since the release of “Since Kaybram”. “No Place To Hide” from the debut, the earnest almost folklore story of sad, green eyed beauty. “Time Machine” is a folksy lesson on friends in life from “Mag Pai Zai” in 2011.
Instantly engaging with the audience, Declan is confident in his own musical skin. Witty banter bounces merrily throughout the performance. Taking to the piano, he reveals his love for it, and his fear of it. No need for the fear though as we are treated to “Langley’s Requiem”. Capturing the tragic story of two reclusive New York brothers who became infamous as hoarders. One brother went blind, the other cared for him until their deaths when they died of malnutrition under a lethal avalanche of their own junk. Sad, sombre yet laden with a hopeful melody, this a musical melodrama.
He gifts us with “Galelio”, revealing that he will be playing it to eighty thousand people in Croke Park tomorrow. “Garth Brooks eat your heart out”, he quips as he fills the air with that delicate opening chord. It is a moment in time. This pure renaissance, romantic ballad is dedicated to and inspired by his parents who recently celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary. I can only say that it was inhaled and absorbed by every fibre of the audience.
“Yellow Moon” takes the tempo up a few notches, a cute little ditty with a country and western twang. “Sarah” from “Since Kaybram” is welcomed into the room, a familiar favourite along with the charming “Whatever Else Happens”. Ah, the promises of enduring love. “Then the moment came for a soft farewell / I kissed you and you shed a few /I kept a tissue of your tears / For a souvenir but I will take care of them for you.”
There’s an integrity and underlying social conscience throughout Declan’s music. He unveils a new song about the decline of the bee population due to pesticides being used by corporations selling mutated seeds to poor farmers. It’s called “Money for Honey”. How does he manage to make melodious magic from such scary material?
Heading towards the end of the evening a falsetto to bass mini opera takes place with “Big Love”. A faux french accent encourages the audience to repeat and return the vocal volley of “Let’s do this thing / let’s take a swing/ let’s make big love.” Laughter, wit and whimsy bring the night to a close with immense enjoyment. The man with the soul of a poet thanks his fans graciously and leaves. Gareth Brooks eat your heart out.
Review by Ciara Sheahan